Swedish gallery Modernity's temporary occupation of a Georgian mansion brings the best 20th-century Scandinavian design to W1
A regular on the design-fair circuit from TEFAF New York to PAD Paris, Swedish design gallery Modernity has taken up temporary residence in London. Until a long-term tenant is found for 14 Cavendish Square, this prime piece of Georgian architecture is where it will call home.
Although scheduled for development into ultra-modern office space, Modernity has stopped short of giving the Palladian building a full-blown makeover. Architectural practice William Smalley was engaged to strip it back to a raw state, where original features such as ornate cornicing, stone floors and elegant shuttered windows meet stripped-back paintwork, deliberately exposed cables and patches of exposed brickwork. All that patina makes the gallery a much more characterful option than the standard white cube (or white booth, at a fair).
We have long wanted to have a base in London, a location which has been a vibrant market for many years. The mansion not only serves the ability to showcase our pieces, but to create inspiring environments built around a mixture of furniture, lighting, ceramics, textiles and art
The gallery shows best-in-class design from Sweden, Denmark and Finland, including furniture, textiles, lighting, ceramics and glass. Its eight rooms cover 500 sqm over three floors, and these perfectly proportioned spaces play host to roomsets that are given plenty of room to breathe. These include instantly recognisable classics, such as an Arne Jacobsen Egg chair and an early pair of Alvar Aalto’s Armchair Number 31, as well as glass from Orrefors and sculptural ceramics from Gustavsberg.
The later 20th century is also well represented: a shirt-like textile wall hanging, created in the 1980s by Viveka Nygren, is mounted on the staircase wall, while a 1990s aluminium armchair by Mats Theselius is paired with a 1950s floor lamp designed by Finnish lighting designer Paavo Tynell.
“We have long wanted to have a base in London, a location which has been a vibrant market for many years,” says Isaac Pineus, co-owner of Modernity. “The mansion not only serves the ability to showcase our pieces, but to create inspiring environments built around a mixture of furniture, lighting, ceramics, textiles and art.”
Clad in Portland stone on its grand classical facade, number 14 is one of a matching pair, the two adjacent houses having been built in 1770 by George Foster Tufnell MP, with a thoroughfare leading to a mews dividing the two. Its companion building is still mercifully in tact, too, and is currently the HQ of healthcare charity the King’s Fund.
The gallery is open by appointment: email firstname.lastname@example.org