Jessica Wall, who started the firm in Little Bytham, Lincolnshire, says an unpromising “run-down three storey semi-detached house near Rushton, Northamptonshire” proved, as so often in these situations, to be hiding a treasure trove of items.
“The house belonged to the late Ken Kirkwood, an incredible illustrator and photographer and an avid collector of mid-century modern art, design and architecture,” she says.
Kirkwood was a friend and contemporary to some of the most prolific and successful architects of the mid-20th century such as Norman Foster and Richard Rogers.
He also worked with some of the best graphic and interior design consultancies such as Pentagram, Minale Tattersfield, The Partners, Conran Design and Hirsch Bedner Associates, to whom he provided “first-class photography that has brought architecture, graphic and interior design to life, accessible to everyone, through his own unique eye,” Wall says.
What struck Wall immediately was that Kirkwood’s lifetime connections were “personified in every single room of his house, namely through his discerning collection of designer furniture which includes Charles Eames and Bertoia chairs, Oluce Atollo, Arco Flos lighting and books – so many books”.
Kirkwood himself had published English Style and Celtic Style and had contributed to innumerable other books and leading magazines and publications across the world, “and of course, his colourful children’s illustrations, in particular The Detective Peabody Casebook series that many of us will remember with great fondness”, says Wall.