Fam­ily af­fair

The Dyson dy­nasty has brought ad­vanced en­gi­neer­ing and rig­or­ous rugs to its new May­fair of­fice

Wallpaper - - Contents - pho­tog­ra­phy: Si­mone BOSSI writer: jonathan Bell

The Dysons sweep into May­fair

A mod­est Ge­or­gian prop­erty, in a ter­race of sim­i­lar struc­tures in Lon­don’s May­fair, con­ceals much be­hind its el­e­gant brick fa­cade. For this is the pri­vate of­fice of the Dyson fam­ily, Britain’s most suc­cess­ful mod­ern in­dus­trial dy­nasty. In­tended as the nerve cen­tre for all fam­ily busi­ness, it com­bines do­mes­tic scale in­te­ri­ors with sleek mod­ernist fin­ishes, con­tem­po­rary craft skills and the lat­est in in­dus­trial de­sign.

Sir James Dyson over­sees a multi-bil­lion pound busi­ness empire, with a vast R&D cen­tre (de­signed by Wilkin­son Eyre) in Malmes­bury, Wilt­shire, and around 4,500 UK em­ploy­ees, mostly engi­neers. Man­u­fac­tur­ing is taken care of by 5,000 more in fac­to­ries in Asia. Dyson de­signs and man­u­fac­tures vac­uum clean­ers, hair dry­ers, fans and light­ing, and a much-vaunted foray into per­sonal mo­bil­ity is cur­rently tak­ing shape. The busi­ness has al­ways in­volved the rest of his fam­ily, all of whom have their own cre­ative con­cerns. This in­cludes his wife, Lady Deirdre Dyson, an ac­claimed artist and car­pet de­signer, and their son Jake, who is the com­pany’s R&D di­rec­tor and chief light­ing en­gi­neer.

The cre­ation of the new of­fice, which ac­tu­ally en­com­passes two ad­join­ing houses, was partly driven by Deirdre. ‘Dyson is very much a fam­ily busi­ness. We needed a cen­tral meet­ing place for the fam­ily, and also some­where for in­ter­na­tional meet­ings to save peo­ple head­ing down to Malmes­bury,’ she says. Work­ing with the Lon­don-based stu­dio of ar­chi­tect Alexan­der Martin, she has com­pleted 14 brand new unique car­pet de­signs for the space, li­ais­ing closely»

‘I tried to make the car­pets tie in to the in­te­rior pal­ette and link a lit­tle bit of the colour’

with Martin’s de­sign team to en­sure each in­di­vid­ual car­pet picks up on colours and de­tails in the ar­chi­tec­ture, as well as cre­at­ing re­lated groups of de­signs on each in­di­vid­ual floor.

For the ar­chi­tects, the main chal­lenge was bal­anc­ing the old and the new with­out giv­ing ei­ther a dom­i­nant role. ‘It was a tricky plan­ning process,’ ad­mits Martin. The house had been sub­di­vided and ‘messed around with’; many orig­i­nal de­tails were miss­ing or had been dam­aged dur­ing the years it was par­ti­tioned into var­i­ous of­fices. Some el­e­ments had to be com­pletely re­built, such as the stair­case; Martin cre­ated a pre­cise re­pro­duc­tion (com­plete with turned-oak balus­ters and set for­ward in the hall­way so as to con­ceal a new lift be­hind it) that ser­vices all floors. The top two floors are given over to of­fice space, with low­ered ceil­ings and mod­ern, rather than clas­si­cal, de­tail­ing. The stair­case cul­mi­nates be­neath a vast glass rooflight, with a smaller stair­case lead­ing up to the neatly con­cealed roof ter­race and its bird’s-eye view of hith­erto un­seen May­fair, a land­scape of aeri­als and chim­neys.

The main board­room is lo­cated in the ex­pan­sive lower ground floor, which runs be­neath the ad­join­ing house and opens up to a small court­yard, with a pre­cisely engi­neered steel and con­crete stair­case lead­ing up to the ter­race above. ‘We al­ways try to get in as much con­tem­po­rary stuff as pos­si­ble,’ says Martin, point­ing out the be­spoke cab­i­nets for ven­ti­la­tion, AV and drinks stor­age that oc­cupy each board­room space. These were made by join­ery spe­cial­ist Howard Bros and help­fully avoid the need for dis­rupt­ing the pro­por­tions or mould­ings in the walls and ceil­ings.

The other dom­i­nant fea­ture is those be­spoke car­pets. ‘It gives a do­mes­tic touch, as well as some lux­ury,’ says Deirdre, who has worked her magic on every room, us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of tufted car­pets made in the UK, and loom-wo­ven rugs made in tra­di­tional work­shops in Nepal. ‘I tried to make them tie in to Alexan­der’s in­te­rior pal­ette,’ she says, ‘and link a lit­tle bit of the colour.’ This task was made all the more dif­fi­cult as she had to de­sign the floor cov­er­ings with­out sight of the fin­ished rooms. Unit­ing the en­tire struc­ture is a be­spoke stair run­ner, with a sub­tle graded col­oration that flows from dark to light. Graded hues also de­fine the free­stand­ing and fit­ted cov­er­ings, which use both wool and silk, with»

left and op­po­site, Deirdre Dyson cre­ated 14 unique car­pet De­signs for Dyson’s lon­don of­fice, in­clud­ing Those for The fam­ily of­fice (where cy­clone Mo­tifs fea­ture on The fire­place), re­cep­tion area and Main Board­roomBelow, a pre­cisely engi­neered Steel and con­crete Stair­case leads from a Small court­yard To a Ter­race above

above left, dyson’s ‘cu beam’ hang­ing light in the main board­room above right, the ter­race wall out­side the gar­den room is clad in wood and cop­per slats, which is re­flected in the room’s new cop­per-striped rug

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