rachel boston: project story

Not all who wander are lost, and those who do stray from the beaten path are often rewarded. Steer off bustling Brick Lane, and you will come upon Rachel Boston’s artisan jewellery showroom slotted into a narrow Victorian terrace on Cheshire Street. Interior designer Hollie Bowden invited Studio Hako onboard for a complete refurbishment to reflect Rachel’s growing business.

Despite its small size, the space demanded a long list of requirements from demolition, joinery, stonework and carpentry to electrical and plumbing work, upholstery, decoration and flooring. A part of Studio Hako’s philosophy is rooted in Wabi Sabi, a careful balance of imperfection, subtlety and simplicity. Rachel’s yearn for a considered space fell seamlessly into this aesthetic, completed by Hollie’s choice of grounding, earthy materials and textures. Only expert delicacy and precision could happily balance places for clients to sit and stand, a desk, payment area and jewellery display without it becoming crowded. Flow was vital, allowing movement of both eye and body, where every element played its role to cumulate into a quiet symphonic experience.

Limited on space for decorative accents, Hollie made a feature of the walls by using natural clay plaster. This was a first for us, a process which took longer than expected, but ultimately only extended the project a little. On its completion, light catches in the rough texture and, at some angles, seems to swirl like clouds with ever-undulating earthy tones.

This carried through into the natural silver stone travertine window display. A thing of beauty in itself, we wanted to preserve it in its flawless splendour. To avoid cracks or breakages, we used one of the latest materials called wedi board. Waterproof and weatherproof, it’s also very rigid and won’t warp. Not to mention it’s also surprisingly lightweight for its purpose as a solid sub structure.

Many accents had dual purposes in their look and practicality, such as a bespoke curved sofa filling a previously difficult and, consequently, dead, space. One of my personal favourites is the raw silk screen. Hanging from a fixture on the ceiling, we crafted a sliding dovetail baton in American walnut so it could slide on and off whenever the fabric needed changing or cleaning.

A showroom based around heirlooms, such as engagement and wedding rings, it’s a space that requires a particular gentleness and warmth. An intrinsic beauty imbues the clay plaster walls, raw silk screen, rough sawn timber desk, and the original rustic timber floor. Every grain of wood and crackle of stone is openly accentuated with understated reverence. As with every place we construct, we cherish long- lasting and high-quality materials that improve with age or are repairable. Rachel’s flourishing business tightened our timeframe for completion, as the showroom could only be closed for a short while. We always have multiple ongoing projects that demand attention, but with good scheduling, management and communication we were able to reach the deadline. It’s a dance we all know quite well by now.

That being said, old buildings, in all their magnificence and beauty, do seem to enjoy trying to fling a spanner in the works. Not only was the place hard to access and work in due to its size, our team of electricians had their work cut out for them with the sensitive and crucial security system. Our original plan to fill the gaps in the existing floors with seasoned timber fillets and sand to a fine finish before being painted was completely scuppered once the dirt was removed. It became clear the boards were in fact tongue and groove and not butt jointed, meaning the gaps needed filler instead. Old floors move a lot, and using filler was risky. Not wanting to compromise finish, we took the time to reduce movement where possible and completed the floor in Farrow and Ball’s tanners brown. The striking depth of its colour propels light up to the ceiling.

An amalgamation of impeccable planning, a dedicated team and a cooperative and understanding client allowed us to overcome every challenge. Rachel’s project presented a chance to connect and work with an amazing client, with Hollie Bowden and her team, and an opportunity for the hako team to work and grow together on something we each felt passionately about.