North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years – SI Special

Jul 29th, 2011
9 Comments
North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special
1990 – 2010
TWENTY YEARS OF FOURTH FLOOR
From its inception in 1990, Fourth Floor has been a hairdressing studio that has done things differently. It’s based in Clerkenwell, an area of London then considered somewhat outre, atop a 1930s industrial building; access is via a vintage goods lift. It is light, airy, and serene; the antithesis of the excitable ambience more common to such establishments. It has actively shunned publicity; its reputation for understated excellence was spread by its diverse clientele – artists, lawyers, designers, journalists. Its fixtures and fittings – Tom Dixon furniture, an Aboriginal burial pole, a Brad Lochore painting – and its eclectic soundtrack – Tindersticks, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Boards Of Canada –
combined to create, in the words of one regular, “a strange mix of functionality and quiet quirkiness.” It was a place that forswore gimmickry and the ephemeral in favour of efficacy and the immutable. To celebrate Fourth Floor’s twentieth anniversary, owner Richard Stepney has collaborated with the design agency North to produce a 154-page limited edition cloth-bound book that encapsulates the Fourth Floor aesthetic. Curator and writer Andrew Renton analyses just what it is that makes Fourth Floor so different, so appealing; fellow clients Jon Snow and Nigel Slater provide, respectively, a psychogeographic guide to London WC1 (Fourth Floor’s locale), and a selection of recipes based on the–
ingredients in the Fourth Floor product line. Photo essays photographed by North document the creation of Fourth Floor’s twentieth anniversary flag, designed by bespoke tailor Timothy Everest, and the Italian factories and cities where Fourth Floor’s meticulously-crafted shampoos and conditioners were researched and developed. Like Fourth Floor itself, the book combines clarity with scrupulous attention to detail to create something unique and highly covetable. In an age of relentless homogenisation, Fourth Floor remains a one-off. Twenty years on, the book is a gift to its fiercely loyal clientele, a testament to its continuing singularity, and a beautifully wrought object in its own right.

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

Design
North
Typography
Bureau Grotesque FiveOne
Bureau Grotesque ThreeSeven
DTL Vanden Keere SD Regular
DTL Vanden Keere SD Medium
DTL Vanden Keere D Caps Bold
Elementa Bold

Photography
Pages 5–6: Tara Darby
Page 7: Jan Baldwin
Pages 42–49: Barney Stepney (North)
Pages 55–57: Peter Liversidge
Pages 48–52: Jeremy Coysten (North)
Pages 75–156 Jeremy Coysten (North)

Printed and bound in the UK by
The Colourhouse
www.thecolourhouse.com
+44(0)20 8305 8305

Paper
Pages 1–88: Oikos 100 gr/m2 50% recycled content FSC Certified
Pages 89–100: Sirio Colour Limone 80 gr/m2 FSC Certified
Pages 101–156: Symbol Freelife Gloss 115 gr/m2 25% Recycled content FSC Certified

All papers are:
– 100% recyclable
– Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF)
– PH Neutral
– Long Life
– Heavy Metal Absence CE94/62

Supplied by Fedrigoni UK Ltd.
www.fedrigoni.co.uk

Cover material
Cover 1: Natuur Linen 2040
Cover 2: Half Linen Light
Cover 3: Natuur Linen 1085
Cover 4: Natuur Linen 1137

Supplied by Winter & Co. Ltd.
www.winter-company.com

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special
North × Fourth Floor: 20 Years   SI Special

During these Summer months things tend to get a little slower around here – studios go on holiday which generally means less updates; but you now what? Sometimes having less updates makes you appreciate the work even more especially if that work was designed by none other than North, a studio revered and respected for producing exceptional, thought-provoking design.

Now North have been perceived to carry an air of mystery and intrigue about them – they’re one of the hardest working studios in design, yet they generally prefer to stay under the publicity radar. With that said, I’m absolutely honored to be able to publish an Exclusive/Offical North feature for the very first time online. As Stephen (from North) explains:

“We’ve created a book to celebrate 20 years of the legendary Clerkenwell hairdressers Fourth Floor. It’s been beautifully produced by The Colourhouse with some lovely Fedrigoni papers and we wanted to repay the generosity of the printer and the paper supplier by giving the project a bit of exposure.”

In addition to these photographs of the book, the folks at North were kind enough to send in additional images that reference the other work they have been producing for Fourth Floor over the past 20 years. A sincere thank you goes out to Jeremy, Sean and Stephen for sharing all these images and for making this feature possible. :)

If you’re unfamiliar with the work of North I definitely suggest taking a look at this gargantuan feature that was posted back in January.

If you’re new to SI, don’t forget to Subscribe, FFFFOUND! & follow SI on Twitter for your weekly dose of visual crack. ;)


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9 Comments

  1. Great stuff! Lovely book covers.

    Added to Bench.li

  2. David Corti

    Thank you kind sirs :)

  3. North can always twist the simplest elements into the most elegant designs. I’m always amazed by their lack of website and the consistency of their projects when you actually get a chance to see them. Great feature as usual.

  4. I think North is possibly my favorite studio of all time I’m a huge fan and its great to see some bits within this post that I haven’t seen before. I quite like the way they still don’t have a website, keeping that air of mystery alive. There was talk of them doing a book a while back to celebrate their 10th anniversary but that never came about. Worth having a look at the IDN feature they had a few years back if you can get your hands on a copy.

  5. Great post Si, a lovely way to go into the weekend. Very inspiring!

  6. David Corti

    @Dominic – A website is definitely in the works, I don’t know when it will be completed though! I can imagine the reason they’ve managed to go this long without a proper website (besides the quality of their work) is because they’ve done all their social networking offline, then there’s word of mouth from satisfied clients as well :)

  7. @David, I like they way you mention social networking offline, I forget offline social networking is still in existence, a very good point.

  8. Quietly getting on with consistently excellent work. I have been lucky enough to acquire some of their output over the years. I would love to see more.

    A website would be nice for fellow designers to drool over, but they obviously don’t seem to need one from a business point of view. I am sure a book of their work would be mighty popular too, if it ever happens.

  9. lovely, i really like this

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