It is easy to be blinded by the sheer grandeur and opulence of London’s Mayfair, yet a rather more reserved but equally high quality example of bespoke shop front design can be found at the heart of this exclusive district. The stylishly restrained shop front of 14 Grafton street, otherwise known as Wartski Jewellers, has been listed at grade ll. While the contents of Wartski may be glittering and luxurious, its more modest, though undeniably handsome, exterior borrows from the late 1960’s and 70’s trend for assertive store frontages where maximum effect was derived from the qualities of material, in this instance, five patinated bronze panels.
The shop front has primarily been listed as a distinctive and intact example of 1970’s retail design which is now rare. The architect, John Frederick Bruckland, graduated from the Northern Polytechnic in 1951, subsequently working in interior and exhibition design. Most notably he worked as a ‘collaborating architect’ for the well-known consultancy Design Research Unit in a series of exhibitions at the London Olympia c1957-61 and in the refitting of pubs for Watney Combe Reid. In 1967, Bruckland worked with Ronald Sandiford to design a bicentenary exhibition for Christie’s in London, and in the following year, he collaborated with the New York practice of Goldstone & Hinz on the interiors of a New York branch of Christie’s at the Delmonico Hotel, a 1928 skyscraper at 502 Park Avenue, New York.
Wartski, a firm specialising in fine goldsmith’s work and jewellery was established in Bangor, North wales in 1865 but by the beginning of the 20th century, the founder, Morris Wartski, moved to the more fashionable seaside resort of Llandudno. In 1911, a London branch opened in the capital on Regent street, moving to Grafton street in 1974. The company’s family heritage remains referenced today in the design at 14 Grafton street with signs each side of the front, proclaiming WARTKSI OF LLANDUDNO.
Kieran McCarthy, Director of Wartski, said: “We are delighted that Wartski’s very special contribution to Mayfair’s architecture has been recognised through listing. Retail architecture can be so ephemeral and fragile so it is heartening to have the protection that listing affords. Step into Warkski and our commitment to celebrating and treasuring the past through our collections is clear – now the same can be said to be true of our very exceptional exterior.”
Catherine Croft, C20 Society Director said: “This is a seriously elegant shopfront, built to last. It’s great that the firm has responded so positively to the listing and that a design-led business really appreciates its own design legacy”