ALEX NOBLE - A LIVE/WORK SPACE
Alex Noble is a fashion designer and visual artist. His avant-garde and subversive designs have been worn by style icons including Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, Florence Welch and Laura Mvula. He has been commissioned by high-end brands such as Thierry Mugler and Diesel, and has collaborated with photographer Rankin and designer Jeremy Scott. We met him at his Hackney live/work space, a cornucopia of his own art, costumes, fabrics, trimmings and quirky objects, and spoke about how it influences and inspires his work. Sadly since shooting this piece Alex and fellow artists and residents in his building have been evicted by Hackney Council. He is planning a move out of London.
Our photo story about Alex, his practice and live/work space featured in the Observer last year https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/aug/14/a-live-work-space-in-hackney-fashion-district
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SPACE
My studio is an old office building on the ground floor at the end of a row of shops that makes up one front of a large council estate in Homerton, Hackney. Its right in between Hackney central and Victoria Park village which are a complete juxtaposition of each other. Outside the buildings front door is a large car park and an expanse of brick work and cement making up different estate blocks and playground exteriors; a dystopian dream. I live here with a jewellery designer and a chef and then there are a mix of Milliners, pattern cutters, photographers and a script-writer who rent work spaces within the building. And Ash the dog and Spuki the cat of course.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT LIVING IN THE SAME SPACE AS YOU WORK? CAN IT BE DIFFICULT TOO?
I like the fact my commute to work is up or down a staircase. It’s great for utilising all the time available in the day when you’re on a big deadline or working on multiple projects which is the norm here. I enjoy being surrounded by all my ‘things’ all the time. It keeps my brain working creatively, even subconsciously when I sleep - just being in the space is constructive.
Difficulties can be the transition between domestic and professional space. I have to really organise the room before I can have new clients in for meetings or fittings and the only soft place to sit is the bed, otherwise you’re always at a desk.
DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING?
I collect decorative mirrors with images on the glass and have a vast collection of diamond socks. I realised I collect chairs too but I had to give most of them away due to lack of space.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Narrative inspires me, even the real narratives we live in. It could be a Greek Classic, or reading about how the PR industry was born from the psychology of war propaganda. I also like titles and wordplay, when text becomes subjective and visual.
WHO IS YOUR DREAM CLIENT?
A dream client would be someone giving me the opportunity to create freely, and someone who would give me a wide audience. The most enjoyable people to work with are those who don't micro manage or vicariously design but trust your work and let you get on with it. Those are always the most successful jobs. I would love Sigourney Weaver to own some of my art work.
DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU
Wake up and go for a run with Ash [my puppy] in Victoria park, followed by heaps of peanut butter (on rye if your asking) and a coffee. By 10 o’clock, assistants have arrived and it’s all systems go on whatever we’re working on. We sit and have a home-made lunch together so everyone’s brains are working properly, and then there is another hours walk in the park and along the canals. Various fittings, meetings or other things happen around town on different days.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SHOP?
Bang Bang on Berwick Street.
WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO EAT OUT?
Ivy’s Mess Hall in Dalston.
For more about Alex's work and art practice see his website http://alexnoblestudio.com