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A Room of One’s Own: Jermaine Gallacher on doing things differently

The designer, known for his statement ‘Zig Zag’ metalwork pieces and radical room schemes, is going great guns – and against the grain. So it’s unsurprising that his pink think-pad of an office is somewhat slicker than your average

Grace McCloud
Ellen Hancock
Harry Cave
A Room of One’s Own: Jermaine Gallacher on doing things differently

Jermaine Gallacher is standing in his office above Borough High Street, a crumpled packet of Camel Blues poking defiantly out the top of his shirt pocket. The walls – painted in ‘Madeleines’ by Francesca’s Paints – cast a rosy glow on the interior impresario’s features. It’s almost womblike – fitting for a room that has become Jermaine’s place to gestate, to nurture his ideas into off-the-wall existence.

Before he moved in here, Jermaine’s showroom, which was of Lant Street Wines’ shop, acted as his office. He’s kept it on, but not to work in full-time. “I was helping unload bottles too often – and drinking too many of them! I needed to crack on!” he laughs. In the six months he’s been here, a former lawyer’s chambers, that’s exactly what he’s done, taking on more interiors projects than ever alongside his product design (his ‘Zig Zag’ tables and candlesticks sell at Matches). Readers might be familiar with one of his recent projects: another lawyer’s offices, coincidentally, which received much attention for their somewhat unlawyerly glamour. He has some big things in the pipeline too, though it’s early days, so “mum’s the word.”

Those chambers were, after Jermaine got his hands on them, all plush purple carpets, tiger stripes and silver walls: 1970s sexy sleaze meets the space age. His own studio, however, is somewhat calmer (if paint-spattered blinds and pink-gloss window frames can ever be described thus). When he got here, the room was completely white and sterile, with grubby laminate underfoot. “I couldn’t deal with that,” Jermaine says. “I turned to Jocasta Innes, whose Paint Magic is just the best book for decorative techniques. That’s where I got the idea to comb the floor.” It’s black, acid yellow and rather brilliant.

He uses this space to, in his words, “fizz away” with ideas, but it’s also crucially his calling card. “Lant Street was full of other people’s stuff. The nice thing about this place is it’s got my mark on it. Clients come here and they get a taste of what they’re going to get from working with me.” That’s not to say that the studio isn’t a showcase for the designs of others: lampshades and fabrics by his friend Viola Lanari; funny faces wrought in spiralled iron by a man he met in a pub in Suffolk; a painting by another friend, Ben Burges. There’s the odd antique too – a large trestle table that his mum found in a junk yard, a tulip-shaped chair he’s covered in silken stripes the colour of a Swizzels sweetie. There’s a hilariously 1970s tortoiseshell bar cabinet with a mirrored top in the corner but, he says with a sigh, “I have to sell that. It’s a bit ridiculous, even for me.”

“On a simple level, it’s just nice having another place to put knick-knacks, because my flat is tiny,” he says. “I’m not complaining; I love it there, but it’s great having another inspirational room that’s absolutely mine.” He likes that it’s not too big, either – though he admits that it could do with a few more mod cons, not least a telephone (“My pink rotary phone is a pain in the arse to dial out from”) and a fridge. At the moment, milk keeps cool on the window ledge.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that Jermaine, ever the maverick, also likes the fact that his studio isn’t where one expects an interior designer to be. “There’s still a bit of grot in this part of town, which I like.” Recently, another designer threatened to set up shop here, much to Jermaine’s chagrin. “I like being out on my own. I can’t be having it turned into bloody Pimlico Road!”

Out on his own, in his pink think-pad above the bustle, Jermaine is happy. “It’s funny, designing for yourself, because you never feel like you’ve finished. But I like where this is at. I’m not the kind of person that obsessively redecorates,” he says. “I just do that for other people!” He laughs. “What a job. God, I’m lucky, aren’t I?”

Further reading

Jermaine Gallacher

Jermaine Gallacher on Instagram

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