Can you tell me about yourself?
Max: I’m a born and bred Londoner, son to an American mother and British father. I’ve always lived north of the river (apart from some early years in Hong Kong), starting life in Highgate before gradually moving closer into the centre of the city and now living in the very central Barbican.
Hannah: I was born in Barnsley. I arrived in East London aged 17 to attend Art School, via Somerset, and have finally made it to my dream building.
What is your occupation?
Max: I started my career thinking I wanted to be a designer but quickly realised I was more interested in celebrating and promoting it through various media channels. I’ve written a number of books about contemporary furniture and product design, including my most recent LONDON DESIGN GUIDE. I co-directed the London Design Festival for a few years and now I write for numerous magazines around the world, stage events, curate exhibitions, consult… Crucially, I work for myself, my work is varied and it allows me to travel and meet a lot of talented people for which I am grateful.
Hannah: I am a jewellery designer. I have my own company which is now in its 10th year. I design and we make everything here in London. I discovered Jewellery at Central St Martins, where I had arrived believing I wanted to be a sculptor. It was love at first sight, so to speak and I’ve never looked back.
What drew you to move to the Barbican?
Max: I’ve always admired the imposing architecture of the Barbican, the confidence of the scheme and the community vision it supports. However, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to live here as I thought I would suffer from concrete overload, having lived previously in a Georgian apartment with a large garden. But our apartment isn’t close to neighbouring buildings and it overlooks the Barbican’s central garden. I can see green and that is enough for me.
Hannah: I’ve always loved the Barbican, from when I first arrived in the area as a student. Visually, and as a place I visited often - either to visit the art centre or just get a bit of visual inspiration. I have a love of brutalist forms and monumental architecture, and concrete - so it is kind of made for me. I’d never really imagined it could ever be a possibility to live within it - so it does feel a bit like a dream come true at the moment.
How long have you lived on the estate?
We moved into our flat in July 2015 so, at the time of writing, haven’t even completed a full year. That said, our previous apartment feels like a lifetime ago..
What is your favourite feature of the barbican flats?
Max: There are so many great features. We’re fortunate to still have the original kitchen and bathroom which were so well detailed and still function brilliantly today. But more generally, there is something that feels ‘just right’ when it comes to the proportions of the spaces. I imagine that they were designed using the principles of the Golden Section and, as such, function perfectly according to human scale. They feel a far cry from the boxy confines of many new apartments being built today.
Hannah: As Max says, it is hard to pick one favourite. The feel of the flat is really special. The proportions are just right and for a one bedroom flat there is a lot of space to move around in. The little details are incredible - the way the windows open, the door furniture, the sink in the toilet. The attention to detail and quality of materials is something I just don’t think you would see in an equivalent estate built today.
How have you found it living here?
Max: I love living here. Of course, the location in London is amazing for getting just about anywhere pretty quickly. The estate itself is a constant discovery and we’re really lucky to have the Barbican Centre on our doorstep, which I already take for granted. But one thing that I’m grateful for is how quiet it is here. We seldom hear our neighbours or much of the bustle from the city. In fact, it’s the rather vocal ducks residing in the lake that make most noise!
Hannah: Every evening that I walk home from work and see the estate looming in front of me it makes me happy. It is a fantastic place to live - both visually and practically. The local area is rich with restaurants, bars, fantastic architecture. The Barbican Centre itself is a real joy. And I love seeing how the architecture looks in every type of weather - the drama is different every day.