In the mid-1930s, three giants of the international Modern movement, Bauhaus professors Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and László Moholy-Nagy, fled Nazi Germany and sought refuge in Hampstead in the most exciting new apartment block in Britain. The 1934 Lawn Road Flats, or Isokon building (as it came to be known), was commissioned by the young visionary couple Jack and Molly Pritchard and designed by aspiring architect Wells Coates. It was England’s first modernist apartment block, and was hugely influential in pioneering the concept of minimal living.
During the mid-1930s and 1940s its flats, bar and dining club became an extraordinary creative nexus for international artists, writers and thinkers. Jack Pritchard employed Gropius, Breuer and Moholy-Nagy in his newly formed Isokon Furniture Company and the furniture, architecture and graphic art the three produced for him and other clients during their brief sojourn in pre-war England helped shape Modern Britain.
Jack Pritchard was a friend of Alvar Aalto, visited him in Finland, invited Alvar & Aino Aalto to live in London, and was heavily inspired by Alvar Aalto’s furniture when creating the Isokon Furniture Company. This lecture tells the story of the Isokon, from its beginnings to the present day, and examines the work, artistic networks and legacy of the Bauhaus artists during their time in Britain.
Leyla Daybelge is a Journalist and Broadcaster, with a background in news and current affairs, as a newscaster, correspondent and producer for BBC Radio Four, ITN, ITV News and Sky News. She currently writes travel and culture features for the Daily Telegraphamongst others. She was previously Head of Press for Contemporary and Design at Sotheby’s.
Magnus Englund is a former resident of Jack and Molly Pritchard’s penthouse in the Isokon building. He has championed the building’s revival and is a trustee of the Isokon Gallery. He is the co-founder of the popular interior design company, Skandium, and has written several books about Scandinavian design and architecture.