Jermaine Gallacher: Meet the rising star of interior design in London


“I love the markets,” said Jermaine Gallacher. “I find it fascinating. You can find anything. And it was a market – an organized garage sale in a schoolyard – that, for Gallacher, had something that looked like a ripple effect. For it was then, a little over ten years ago, and in Battersea, London, that a fortuitous discovery presented itself in a multi-pointed form. “The first thing I bought,” he revealed, “well, the first thing I bought to sell, but never sold, was a zigzag candlestick.” The zigzag has since become a key motif for Gallacher, a London-based design dealer and furniture and interior designer. “And of course one thing inspires another and that leads to all the fun things you can do with the zigzag shape,” he says. “It’s a bit endless.”

The fun things Gallacher has recently achieved with the zigzag shape include: metal candle holders and matching snuffers, in saturated shades of black, orange, blue, pink or black, all cast in metal; a corresponding hand-welded metal console, its tray being measured to hold one, possibly two drinks. Also, hooks and a chair of volume similar to a throne. Part of Gallacher’s first collection of household items named Prototypes, his new creations are tactile – their metallic surface is cool to the touch, their tips sharp – and are a pleasure to use and see, as can be done in the Liberty London department store or in its own showroom. Gallacher operates from a space on Lant Street, within walking distance of London Bridge and Southwark Bridge.

To make its prototypes in metal, Gallacher works with expert manufacturers from the north of England. “The steel mills are really good up there,” he said. “You have to find good people to do things for you. They must know your sensitivity, because I don’t do things.

A taste for collaboration also extends to his installation in Lant Street. Here, it gives way to the work of artists and designers. Among them, Joe Armitage and Tom Atton Moore. An orange and black shade has been hand painted and is the work of Viola Lanari; there are light ceramics by Miranda Keyes and metal furniture by Barnaby Lewis. The latter was for a long time one of the main collaborators of Gallacher, just like Lukas Gschwandtner.

With Gschwandtner, Austrian designer known for his chairs and his leatherwork, Gallacher is currently refining a series of metal stools. In today’s showroom, one is fitted with a red ostrich leather seat, the other instead features a supple lambskin dyed in bright orange. “I really like a mix of things,” he said. “Otherwise you end up with you, selfish old man.” I just pick what looks good to me, really. That’s it. There is no science in this.

And perhaps in the manner of his zigzag signature, Gallacher, in listing what he has been doing in recent months, also dashes from one project to another. There are interior design commissions: about a year ago he was commissioned to imagine a London lawyer’s office. Soon after, he set about furnishing the Soho home with the new restaurant Bar Crispin. The site includes The Green Room, a private dining room that seats 12, detailed with an emerald green wall (hand painted by Viola Lanari) framing a backlit wine rack with filigree metal doors, created for the site by Gallacher. After the attorney’s office and restaurant is a sculptural doorway to Brooklyn and “a really exciting, huge, huge residential project,” Gallacher enthused. “This simply glorious apartment in Notting Hill that hasn’t been touched since the 1970s. I’m really excited about it.

Gallacher, who firmly believes that homes become homes gradually and over time, is rallying against single-themed, one-step renovations. “It’s a very good thing about this client,” he said of the Notting Hill commission. “They just want the first adjustments. They want me to choose the floor, the walls, the fixtures, the bathroom. They want me to design the kitchen, and it’s really awesome. But, they don’t want me to furnish it entirely, which I find really cool because I think people should grow up in their homes.

One way to do this is to do like Gallacher and hunt down markets for rare finds. Alternatively, there is a pre-selected group of items available for purchase through Gallacher. On his site at the moment, a duo of ceramic cats modeled mid-dance and a country chair in wrought iron and cognac-colored leather. Or, how about an entrance mirror, its frame refined with velvet? Everyone is waiting for a new home. Gallacher said: “I think there is way too much trending stuff and not enough people buying things because they like them.”