International art dealers, Phillips, focus on the defining aesthetic movements of the last century and set themselves apart as the most dynamic and forward-thinking auction house in the world. With locations in New York, Geneva, and Hong Kong, Phillips wanted a headquarters building from which they could harness the energy and possibilities of the London art scene and which would allow them to conduct auctions, as well as hold private sales and curate selling exhibitions.
Howick Place, an old warehouse in Victoria, and former sorting office for the Royal Mail, had the large interior spaces that Phillips required. Their brief was to create free-flowing galleries along with a generous auction space that was welcoming and open to all. Phillips are proud of their reputation for showing any piece of art, no matter how large or complex, and our gallery layout allowed for a variety of different configurations to suit a huge range of work.
The industrial qualities of the existing building are celebrated in our retrofit, and allowed to contrast with the pristine white walls that make up each gallery. Oak floors are left unfinished to take on the patina of age, and the overall impression – in contrast to many of the slicker, more formal support spaces of the traditional London art dealer – is of a forgotten warehouse in which an art fair is taking place.
Phillips also required a temporary exhibition venue in London, whilst work on Howick Place was underway. Working with this fine existing building in Bloomsbury, we designed a series of raw interlinked galleries that weave together a series of basement rooms with varying floor levels and ceiling heights. The shell of the building is left unfinished and contrasts with the perfect white gallery walls and simple directional lighting. This space is defined by a pleasing clash between the rough concrete basement space and the floaty whiteness of the traditional modern art gallery: a perfect setting for the vast range of art that Phillips exhibit.