Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Introducing The House Of Osman

It’s difficult to find one word to describe the new townhouse space Osman Yousefzada has opened just north of Oxford Street. The building dates from the 1760s and like many on Fitzrovia’s Percy Street, was once an opium den, but Osman has put it to new use. Yes, you can shop his latest collection here (it hangs on custom-made copper rails designed by Yousefzada to look like large-scale pieces of jewellery), but you can also snap up a Charles Dickens, leather-bound first edition from the antiquarian bookshop in the corner of the downstairs parlour, or acquire contemporary art pieces such as Celia Hempton’s intimate Self Portraits or Prem Sahib’s Breathing Neons, which elegantly exhales on and off from the ceiling. “Of course you can buy clothes here but fundamentally it’s more than a shop,” says the designer, standing in the main downstairs space on a plush, teal-coloured carpet that feels springy underfoot.

Osman thinks of the place, which opens with a housewarming party on Wednesday, as “a cultural space - a 3D version of The Collective,” he says, referring to the glossy, art and culture publication he curates annually.

Yousef zada, who also plans to host readings, talks and book launches at the townhouse, has drawn upon his talented group of creative friends to bring the space to life. His catwalk jewellery dangles from a wall display of curvaceous metal hangers by the artist George Henry Longly, which are on sale for £500 each. In the entrance hall, (painted in Little Greene’s French Grey), beneath industrial light fittings salvaged from a Czech factory, is a large-scale painting by Satoshi Kojima, the much sought-after pupil of the renowned Scottish painter, Peter Doig.

The townhouse opening marks a stellar year for Osman, who has seen sales rise by 72 per cent in the past 12 months. The designer has also attracted new backing from a private consortium. This financial security has allowed him to think big, professionally (his successful Perfect Five capsule is now being sustainably made) and creatively. This June, he’s putting on an exhibition and arts festival in his native Birmingham, exploring the immigrant experience from a second-generation perspective. Yousefzada’s Afghan parents came to the UK in the 1970s and the designer learnt to sew by helping his dressmaker mother as a child.

His new fashion and art filled Georgian townhouse is a world away from the working-class Balsall Heath terrace in which he grew up. As well as looks from his spring/summer 2018 collection, there are over 30 pieces of art on display. Several are for sale and others are on loan from the Nicoletta Fiorucci collection. Yousefzada aims to re-hang the rooms every few months. “We’ll do exhibitions and allow young artists to take over the space,” he says, at the request of many artist friends who are increasingly looking to display their work in settings beyond the typical white walled gallery context. The townhouse offers an intimate backdrop for some of the newest and most interesting names in contemporary art. “We can support people we love in a different way,” says Osman and everywhere you look, special pieces nestle. An Erika Verzutti bronze dazzles on a navy-blue wall and nestled at the top of the stairs, Maria Loboda’s mural “Raw Material Coming From Heaven”, (it looks like a melting black sun) is painted directly onto the wall. In Osman’s office, with its rubber studded “leisure centre” floor, a Leidy Churchman Giraffe painting takes pride of place alongside a serenely beautiful collage from 2008 Turner prize nominee Goshka Macuga.

Before the house opens to the public later this week, it will be blessed by a witch who will kiss the walls and burn wormwood to purify the place. Once she’s done, if you want to see good art and interesting clothes up close, be sure to drop in.

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