Cultured Magazine

June/July 2015

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This spring, Lee Broom ventured across several continents to scout for exhibition space for a temporary installation when he stumbled upon a row of empty shops on the lively Via Alfredo Cappellini, in the center of Milan. Being an interior designer worked in his favor, as he transformed the existing block and combined the stores into a large, two-level plan. Broom's stylish collection of furniture, lighting and accessories was presented together for the first time at "The Department Store," which debuted during this year's Salone Internazionale del Mobile this April in Milan. Envisioned as a series of 12 mini-collections, pedestals, vitrines and counters were installed to correspond with departments including lingerie, shoes, haberdashery and perfume while over 20 products were incorporated as part of the displays. "I think it's subconsciously in me to create a bit of drama while bringing the pieces to life," says Broom, about the retail theme highlighting his early work in theater and fashion. The 39-year-old trained at the atelier of British fashion icon Vivienne Westwood, before obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in women's wear at Central Saint Martins in London. He also kept busy creating interiors for clubs and bars while still in school. "When I launched Lee Broom in 2007, I wanted to present a product collection as I had been creating bespoke products for interiors," he says. Broom's career took off around the time his Crystal Bulb light debuted in Milan in 2012. Offered at an affordable price, the bulb light became a huge success with Broom continuing to experiment—taking industrial elements and juxtaposing them with decorative details. Growth continued with new headquarters and a retail shop opening in 2013 in Shoreditch in London's East End, followed by a factory outside of London that now handles distribution, an electrical workshop, dry assembly, prototypes and made-to-order pieces. A giant clock anchored by two naked mannequins welcomes visitors. "I've always been into Man Ray, Horst and 1930s Surrealist black-and-white photography," says Broom. The collection emphasizes natural materials along with a primary color palette. "Everything is blown out in gray, so that the product stands out," he says about the cinematic approach to display. Visitors are led through the store, which is installed with theatrical vignettes. The Crescent light, a new twist on an art deco globe, consists of a sphere cut in half revealing a brushed brass fascia, while a glass case is meticulously arranged with gloves, fans and baubles. "I learn their craft and then push their boundaries. It's a real collaboration," says Broom. A number of products are made with traditional methods including the Split mirror, an oak frame with a hand-beveled oak laminate reveal. The Chapel light, a black spun domed light with geometric stained glass, was produced by a local artisan in East London who studied at the Glasgow School of Art and specializes in the restoration of church windows. The 1980s were conjured up with the Drunken side table, a red lacquered sphere wedged between a top and slanting striped base made of acrylic and polished stainless steel. "As soon as you add color and stripes, it becomes a little Memphis-y," he says, referring to the 1980s Italian design movement. The Carpetry collection on the lower level includes an undulating carpet-like chaise with a corresponding wall light. While the patterns in the carpet appear Persian, they are actually images of Tudor roses, the queen's coronation crown and scepter with a border of roses and daisies. Broom tinkered with the British motifs, including substituting his own initials for the queen's. "I decided to claim it and make it completely British," he says. Broom's ties to the monarch continue. In April, The Queens Award to Industry was bestowed upon a select group of companies who promoted their brand beyond the British Isles, including Broom and "The Department Store." 110 CULTURED PORTRAIT BY LUKE HAYES, COURTESY OF LEE BROOM Retail Therapy Designer Lee Broom tapped into his early years in fashion—and then turned up the drama—to create an experiential showcase for his work in Milan. BY MELISSA FELDMAN Designer Lee Broom debuted the Shadow table lamp and Crescent light at "The Department Store" in Milan.

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