Fellow Londoners will be aware that the area around Kings Cross has undergone a huge regeneration in recent years. I had been to Coal Drops Yard for the occasional concert, exhibition, or meal. Always surprised by a development that could change my feeling towards this area of London, I naturally had in mind to explore it further. I’d lived not too far away in Islington at one stage of my life, but found the area too urban, too dirty and claustrophobic for my tastes. This new public gathering point is modern, interesting, open, clean, and – always a winner for me – there is even a waterway to linger beside. Learning that a hub for interior design was to form part of Coal Drops Yard was the final impetus to set aside an afternoon to explore.
Design wizard, Thomas Heatherwick, has woven spaces for an expanding network of creatives and technologists through and around the preserved structures of the area’s industrial past. There are the gas holders, the canal and railway structures, the Victorian coal storage sheds, all still in place.
The Coal Office is Tom Dixon’s new home: a live studio if you like, combining a shop, workshop, office, restaurant and roof terrace in one space. The futuristic lighting, haberdashery, furniture and accessories collection is displayed in a shop under the industrial arches, while the Trade Counter provides a draw to architects and interior designers wishing to hold longer conversations on design and browse surface finish options showcased by a number of design friends who have joined. I learned of the work of Made a Mano, producers of tactile modern ceramics made from lava stone, and I caught up with colleagues at The Rug Company, taking the opportunity to learn about their latest handwoven textural designs.
This urban, industrial setting makes a revitalising change from the chic, established design hubs of West London.