No. 670: Lawn Road, NW3
Isokon Building, Lawn Road, Hampstead, London, NW3. Photo © Roger Dean 2010
The London based Isokon firm was founded in 1929 with the aim of designing and building modernist houses and flats. Their key project was the Lawn Road Flats, (a.k.a. Isokon Building), which opened in July 1934. It comprised 22 single flats, four double flats, three studio flats, staff quarters, kitchens and a large garage as well as communal gardens (in which it was hoped the residents and their guests would mingle) and an adjoining nature reserve. A little later the Marcel Breuer Isobar cafe/restaurant was added. The Isokon company also began manufacturing furniture, notably made of plywood, to furnish the flats.
Walter Gropius, former head of the Bauhaus, lived in the Isokon from 1934-37, during his tenure as Controller of Design for the company. Around this time, the company also employed two other luminaries of European modernism: Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and Marcel Breuer, who took over from Gropius upon the latter’s emigration to the U.S.A. The development and its impeccably Modernist occupants became a hub for intellectual life in North London, with Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson among the many visitors to the Isobar. Agatha Christie had a flat there too.
The Isokon Company continues to manufacture furniture, including such imperishable classics of 1930s design as the Penguin Donkey and Breuer’s Isokon Long Chair. Company website: Isokon Plus. R.D.