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The Isokon Gallery and Walter Gropius

SEEN has been a long-time admirer of the work of architect, teacher and Isokon resident, the renowned architect Walter Gropius. Marking the 80th anniversary of Walter Gropius’s departure from England to America, The Isokon Gallery Trust presents a concise synopsis of the seminal architect’s life and work.


One of the most highly-regarded architects of the 20th Century, modernist and Isokon resident, Walter Gropius – along with his contemporaries Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright – is widely regarded as a founding father of modernist architecture.

Opening Day - Edith Tudor-Hart

Moving to England via Italy to escape Nazi Germany, his arrival in 1934 marked the end of a brilliant early career in Germany where he was the Founder and Director of the groundbreaking Bauhaus movement, beginning in 1919. Although a famed architect, his period in England was met with the struggle to find work, due to his radical modernist designs although he did produce several realised projects, most notably the Impington Village College in Cambridge, built in partnership with Maxwell Fry. Gropius’ and Fry’s consideration of the social impact of the building’s environment was groundbreaking for the time, and is noted as one of the most important pieces of architecture created in that era.


After four years at the Isokon, an invitation to become Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design signalled the end of his residency in London in 1937, where he would later complete many significant projects including Gropius House, Met Life Building, John Fitzgerald Kennedy Federal Building and The Harvard Graduate Centre.

The Isokon Gallery tells the remarkable story of the Isokon building, a pioneering modern apartment block opened in 1934 as a progressive experiment in new ways of urban living. Commissioned by champions of modern design Jack and Molly Pritchard, and designed by architect Wells Coates, Isokon was home to Bauhaus émigrés, artists, authors (Agatha Christie), architects and even a number of Soviet spies.

The Isokon Company also pioneered bent plywood furniture with pieces designed by Marcel Breuer, Egon Riss and Ernest Race, including the famous Penguin Donkey 1. Today their originals form part of the exhibition and many of the designs are still produced today by Isokon Plus in Hackney, London – who also produce new pieces from notable contemporary designers including Barber & Osgerby and Michael Sodeau.

The display features a full-size kitchen and dressing room re-created using original material salvaged from the recent Isokon restoration project by Avant Architects whose work on the Isokon Building was met with great acclaim, winning the following Crown Estate Conservation Award 2005, RIBA Conservation Award 2005 and Concrete Society Mature Structures Award 2004.

Exclusively for the Isokon Gallery; Christopher Wilk, Keeper of the Furniture, Textiles & Fashion Department at the V&A will take guests through his new exhibition ‘Plywood: Material of the Modern World’ on Friday 14th July, 5.45pm – 8pm, one day before the exhibition opens to the public, with all proceeds going to the Isokon Gallery Trust.

The Isokon Gallery Trust, established in 2014, by John Allan and Fiona Lamb of Avanti Architects, who, with Notting Hill Housing restored the building in 2004, and Magnus Englund, resident of the Isokon Building (Lawn Road Flats) and co-founder of the design retailer Skandium.

A changing seasonal display is exhibited each year, alongside the permanent exhibition. A small gift shop offers a range of books and items with all proceeds going towards the charity’s costs. SEEN will certainly be visiting. The exhibition and the building will doubtless be a mecca for all modernist design enthusiasts.

Open 11am–4pm every Saturday & Sunday
Until 29th October 2017

The Isokon Gallery
Lawn Road