First-phase renovation!

If you’ve been down here recently, you may have seen the ground floor has changed, a little.

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But hey! We’re ahead of ourselves here.

If you’ve ever been round Brick Lane in the East End of London, you’ve probably seen Neil Jolliffe’s work before. He’s responsible for many of the finer recycled and reclaimed interiors around the Truman Brewery and delightful boutiques in the environs.

Neil’s a very interesting designer. His practice is based around reclaimed and reused materials. “I get a total buzz from taking what someone thinks is junk and making something useful and beautiful out of it” says Neil, pulling a packing crate out of a bin. That crate was a last minute haul – he’s been collecting utility parts for some months, from storage crates, chairs, heritage wood and lively trims.

Neil understands what we’re doing at the MadLab – that this is a community project, that it’s about the sharing and development rather than the bottom line. And we can’t thank him enough – we wouldn’t have been able to afford an award-winning designer like him if he hadn’t shared the ethos and reduced his fees to come and work here. And work he did!

His approach has been to break up the ground floor, turning it into a highly-flexible multi use space.

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He’s built a number of mobile partitions which can be used to section the floor into different areas, yet allowed visibility and access through them. They’re made from pallettes. Natalie chipped in and painted them a shiny white, while Neil got on with some of the other furniture he planned.

IMG_0085.JPG“Don’t like those chairs”, said Neil. But he reimagined them as multi use mobile seating, with storage, shelving and castors.

Added to this is a nice coffee table, made of an unidentifiable yet sturdy plastic drip tray. “I’ve been collecting this stuff for months”, Neil told us. “Interesting materials, leftovers, things I can transform into something new”. The only new material he’s used has been some large boards to create a number of flexible tables, which we’ve pained jaunty colours, and a dedicated soldering station to the rear of the space.

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Neil’s coming back later in the year to finish off more dedicated seating and more utility furniture – there’s already a test bookcase we’ll be adding to, as well as to create a light installation with HACMan. He left us with our final task of cleaning our ‘heritage’ floor up – so there’s a gentle battleship grey sheen to the floor you may have been enjoying.

There’s more photos of the renovation process on flickr and we’ll be uploading a few short videos soon nuff. As every, huge thanks to everyone who helped out – the guys at HACMan, Jeb, as well as everyone who’s chipped in over the last few months to repaint, sand, plaster, build and brew up.

If you’ve been by, let us know your thoughts, and if you have any suggestions – get ‘em in!