Interiors Scoop

Claud Dennis main image

There is plenty more to mid-century dealers than they are given credit for. They not only have a vast amount of knowledge, quite a few of them have a very good eye. Just head over to our Modern Marketplace and drop in on Retrouvius, a company famed for reclaim and interior projects. Or Vintage Unit – a favourite with pubs and shops. Metro Retro supplies Bond films and Scorsese films and Twentieth Century Marks is often the first port of call for any stylist with a Sci Fi theme.  When they are not oiling up a sideboard, rewiring or polishing a metal lamp many of them can be found collaborating on fabulous interior projects like this one from vintage lighting specialist SKINFLINT below.

Claud Dennis end counter

The clever people behind Skinflint not only supply vintage lighting. They are also a lighting design consultancy and were chosen recently by award winning London-based interior designers, Avocado Sweets, to help create the ambient lighting for new independent coffee shop, Claud W. Dennis based in Southgate, London.

As the array of mainstream, high street coffee shops increases with chains opening up on every street corner it is always exciting to see a true independent coffee shop opening it’s doors. Claud W. Dennis is no exception, and has already had it’s name in the Sunday Times for it’s uniqueness and eclectic mix of new and old, taken from it’s origins dating back to the first half of the century. Claud W. Dennis pays homage to, and gets it’s name from, the building’s previous owner, who was famous in the area for being a distinguished local property man. Within the cafe you can see Avocado Sweets design has revived many of the building’s original features that were found in the loft including an original stain glass front window and advertising signs. These have been successfully integrated with modern technology to desirable effect.

benjamin lights

Avocado Sweets specified the lights that were required working to the brief given by their client and Skinflint supplied them. On this occasion the lights were purchased from existing stock so were shipped on a next day delivery hence turn around time was fast. However the whole process from sourcing and salvage of the lights and shades to them being shop ready takes months of painstaking time and dedication.

Revo lights

“Sourcing shades is an ongoing journey for us. Over the years we have built up a large number of contacts that assist us with sourcing new stock both in the UK and abroad. We sometimes have the chance to photograph the lights in their original settings and have found ourselves being shown through derelict hospitals with demolition experts, scrambling round old aircraft at breakers yards and photographing vast halls, which once hummed with the buzz of industry. We are also occasionally approached by people who have found an interesting or unusual light in their attic and wish to sell it, which we are always happy to discuss and that can lead to interesting stories emerging.” says Sophie at Skinflint.

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From Skinflint finding and purchasing the salvaged lights to getting them on their website can take months depending on the state of the lights when salvaged and the work that has to be done to get them back to fully working condition. Every one of their products goes through a process to transform it from the worn and dilapidated state it arrives in to being ready for sale once again. These processes include stripping down and rewiring, applying a finish and sealing the light to prevent further degradation.

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At independent coffee shop, Claud W. Dennis the results are impressive with use of 1950’s ‘Benjamin’ shades above the bespoke iPod bar, salvaged from an engineer’s workshop in Holyhead. They have a tilted angle, which would once have lit up car production lines.

“Lighting throughout the design celebrates some of the greatest in British engineering.”  Avocado Sweets

Claud Dennis ipod bar
car production line

Above the counters are iconic 1960’s REVO factory shades salvaged from a factory in Leicester, which illuminate the delicious array of cakes on offer.

REVO became a household name in the 1930’s, they were well known for making street lights when electric street lighting was first introduced. Their engineers were famed for their creativity and actually developed and designed specific lighting dependent on the town it was destined for. As a result, although there are many classic REVO styles in existence, from prismatic and enamels to machinist lights and bulkheads, there are also some real individual and rare REVO treats still to be found. By the 1950’s and 60’s they had become one of the main suppliers of street lighting in the UK with many of their lights still being in use to this very day.

Claud Dennis counter

An imposing salvaged railway station pendant hangs in the rear seating area. This single 1930’s German railway station light once illuminated the main hall of a station in the former West Germany.

The overall outcome is a triumph and shows the degree to which reclaimed materials and objects can create a warmth and distinctive feel whilst maintaining their historic value and also being environmentally friendly.

Giant German station light

Maybe it is time more people looked at salvaging, recycling, and up cycling used items that would otherwise be discarded as waste.

If you head to our Modern Marketplace you will see designers who do just that, creating beautiful pieces of furniture out of tired pieces that would otherwise be sent to the tip. Breathing life into midcentury items and making them treasures once again. There is a real beauty about possessing a piece with a history rather than a new mass produced item with no story, life or soul. They can also be amazing collectors items and be enjoyed by generations to come.

Claud Dennis station light

Visit our Midcentury East at Erno Goldfinger’s Haggerston to take a look at some of the vintage treats our dealer’s have in store for you whilst soaking in the atmosphere of this masterpiece of brutalist design, Goldfinger’s only secondary school.

Find Skinflint in BUY MIDCENTURY on The Modern Marketplace

Written by: Tanya Pateman, Modern Shows®/9th September 2015. Please Note: This feature and all the written content within it belongs to Modern Shows®. If you would like to reproduce any part of the piece or syndicate the feature in full, please contact lucy@modernshows.com and for images, see below.

Images: © Skinflint © photographer Andrew Beasley for Avocado Sweets

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