carolina castro

'The 3am Room' WOW!House - Maddux Creative x Fromental

‘We began our inspiration with reflections on the wonders of mycology: the beauty and transformative powers of fungi. This led to conversations on creativity in our lives and in the natural world. The act of creation through thought and craft play in its most pure and necessary way, untrammelled by the usual constraints of a practical solution.’ Tim Butcher

Collaborating with numerous craftspeople and specialist suppliers was a crucial aspect of the project. Their expertise and skill contributed to the realisation of the design vision, bringing the concept to life with precision and artistry. We want to thank all our collaborators: Altfield, Charles Burnand, Cornflake, ecoScent, George Smith, Illuminationworks, K-Array, Lutron, Optelma. Pierre Frey, Tom Faulkner, The Royal School of Needlework and 2B Heard. Photos by Simon Williams and James McDonald.

Just as pockets found in nature are perfect environments within which mycelia—the delicate, thread-like structures of fungi—can thrive to create complex networks, central to the design ethos in creating this year’s 3am Room was the intention to create a utopian environment to foster human connection, conversation and community.

The use of quotes, the optimisation of the layout, and attention to materiality all contribute to the immersive and thought-provoking experience intended for visitors. This space, viewed through a retro-futuristic lens, encourages contemplation, reflection, and exploration of the dynamic relationship between technology, nature, and the self.

“I wanted to experience all over again the joy of free creativity that can only come when you set yourself a task with only your imagination as a limit.” Lizzie Deshayes

The room features two low curved bespoke George Smith sofas to create a comfortable conversational pit, walls adorned with reflective surfaces for a unique perspective, and a densely textured wall featuring a cabinet of curiosities to explore. The room is illuminated with strategically placed lighting fixtures, accentuated with objects, free forms and the ultimate starburst of light. This is a place of wonder, a place to start (or end) the day with a sense of freedom and possibility.

The quote, "May you remain aware of your awareness", prominently displayed above the sliding needlepoint doors of perception, acts as a prompt for visitors, inviting them to engage with their surroundings and to heighten their consciousness. The design team's unwavering commitment to fostering a space for people to convene, debate, discuss, and inspire one another was a driving force behind the project. The desire for community, connection, and the exchange of ideas is fundamental, and the physical environment plays a vital role in facilitating deeper connections and engagement.

This project offered the design team complete intellectual and practical freedom, allowing them to conceptualise a creative concept rather than simply showcasing products or capabilities. The installation itself is as significant as the objects within it. The aim is to create a fully immersive setting, triggering visitors’ imagination and transforming the space into an experimental playground. It serves as a tangible manifestation of the ideas and values that hold importance to us and we have embraced the opportunity to express these ideas through our work.

“Embracing the thrilling archive of Fromental’s diverse output, like children in a sweet shop, we collaborated to produce new textures, patterns and effects represented in wall coverings, fabrics, tapestries and objet d’art.” – Jo leGleud

The layout and flow of the space were meticulously honed to optimise the visitor's experience. We wanted to create a space that flowed harmoniously and intuitively, enhancing the overall atmosphere and facilitating easy movement and interaction.

Materiality played a significant role in the design process, with the studio joyfully experimenting with exceptional furniture, lighting pieces, and various materials. The inclusion of delicate tapestries, hand embroidery, hand-painted detailing, traditional French passementerie, and rich silk fabrics showcases the attention to detail and craftsmanship involved in the project. These elements add layers of texture, beauty, and sophistication to the space, elevating the overall design concept.

Explore the room through different mediums and materials:

1 - Ligetti wallcovering

A metallised sweep of colour in motion draws inspiration from the optimistic vision of technology in the 1970s. Dynamic shapes, kinetic elements and the illusion of motion throughout the design create an atmosphere of dynamism and energy. This reinforces the futuristic theme and adds an element of excitement and vitality to the space.

2 - Agatized

Draws inspiration from the mesmerizing forms and colours found in agate stones, specifically a very captivating, agatized dinosaur bone. Cell-like forms of hand-painted vintage silver lame are embellished with hand-stitching. For the ‘portal’ luminescent forms shine through radially cut brown felt. For walling, the Agatized forms are appliqued to upholstered felt.

3 - The Cabinet of Curiosities

The biomorphic shelf pods, with their abstract interpretations of natural forms, serve as visual metaphors for the interconnectedness and complexities found in nature. As mycelium, the thread-like structures connect and link various elements in the space. The clustered arrangement, organic shapes and choice of colour enhance the metaphor as they mimic the graceful and flowing patterns, suggesting movement and growth. Merging colours symbolise the blending and integration of diverse elements and systems. As diverse species rely on each other for support and sustenance, the pods can provide a space for displaying various objects that complement and interact with one another.

4 - Fuligo

Organic shapes, reminiscent of fruiting bodies of fungi, from a structured pattern rendered in both hand-painted and embroidered silk walling and the needlepointed ‘Doors of Perception’. "May you remain aware of your awareness", prominently displayed above the sliding doors of perception, acts as a prompt for visitors, inviting them to engage with their surroundings and to heighten their consciousness. The Fuligo pattern deconstructs as it enters the raw and organic cabinet of curiosities.

5 - The Gill Ceiling & the Cuddle Puddle

Gills of hand-cut silk organza radiate from the central light installation and serve as a highly decorative element, creating a sense of being inside a mushroom, adding a touch of whimsy to the space. The design becomes a focal point, with the dramatic illuminated reflections from the Mica Globe by Harry Freehily for Charles Burnand engaging the viewers’ attention and sparking their curiosity. The two low embracing George Smith sofas in rich ‘Teddy’ mohair, invite visitors to gather, commune and experience the space with a sense of wonder and delight. 

"Designing the Courtyard Room for WOW!House at Chelsea Harbour's Design Centre allowed us to unleash our creativity and collaborate with renowned designers and brands. With the freedom of a blank canvas and no client constraints, we pushed boundaries and created a captivating space that provoked conversation and inspired visitors." Scott Maddux

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