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Lee Broom's Public House

The English designer brings a proper British pub to Milan

by Richard Prime in Design on 30 April 2012

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Lee Broom's name features consistently on the lips of those-in-the-know at London's Design Festival. This year, the young designer, who we covered in 2010, took his solo show to Milan and created his own corner of English charm in which to show his new work plus a little of the old.

Of course, being a Cockney, Broom dismantled an old London pub and ambitiously recreated it in Lambrate's rapidly rising design zone. According to the designer; "The project was a bit of a big one involving a vast quantity of shipping crates," in comparison to simply bringing a few pieces along to show standalone. Plus it was the first time the Milanese design crowds had been exposed (as they might put it) to a proper 'boozer' and perhaps one which might be called the first real proper design pub!

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Yet the strife in dismantling and assembling such a gargantuan installation paid off spectacularly. The Pub drew together Broom's distinctly English inspirations and formed a seamless link between the designer, his aesthetic viewpoint, his inspirations and the outcome of his work be it under his own name, or collaborating with others.

The Heritage Boy work from 2009 and its overtones of London's classic iconography and English craft attributes was placed in context, with the (still very fresh) middling blue tones counteracting with the deep mahoganies of the pub's reclaimed wood panelling. The panelling itself, with its gentle marquetry, also gave a nice compliment to the cut glass lights of the 2011 One Light Only project, which saw Broom investigate the classic style of Art Deco jewelry. While the space was lit with Broom's new lighting.

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This year, Broom explored further the notion of English craft and the glowing embers of tradition, utilizing cut glass techniques to create his Cut Crystal Bulbs—a simple revisit to the old, banned, tungsten lightbulb in a naked, unclad format. Dangling from a braided gold cord and gold housing, the cut glass pattern diffuses light around a space spreading a classy haven of joy; a group of the fixtures is enough to make one's heart race.

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While we were there, Broom showed us a continuation of the cut glass influence and a project completed with Ballantine whisky. The project was to give Broom free reign to translate the classic decanter into something more modern which was still imbued by the brand's heritage. "It was a nice project, that let me kind of close the circle on the cut glass work. I've done the lights now, which remove the technique from where you'd normally see if and then bought it back to its beginnings with this decanter set," explains Broom, who has worked with the company before to create a special bar stool for its 12 year old line. " Obviously we're used to drinking from the cut-style tumbler but this time we're mixing, sealing and chilling the liquor in beautiful cut glass units which combine together to form one piece," he continues.

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Broom's intention is that the base acts as the glass to seal in flavors and aroma, the middle also acts as a glass or cube/stone holder while the top can be used for water or other carriers to enhance flavor.

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While most other designers descended on the horrendously overrated Bar Basso, Lee Broom did the British thing, holding fort and standing as cultural bastion of the empire in his own pub. Ma'am would be pleased on all counts.

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