The Real Decorating Company is a youthful enterprise. It is run by a young director and based in a showroom/studio designed by a group of young designers. Dan Brill was still studying for Part II at the rca when Charles Phelens asked him and his wife, interior decorator Victoria Brill, to design the company's Fulham showroom in West London. Brill worked out a general strategy, established an aesthetic in keeping with Phelens' brief, and invited fellow students to take over different aspects of the project in a spirit of 'compatible collaboration'.
Brill's approach was to keep the design simple and provide an effective backdrop for the decorating paint and plaster finishes marketed by rdc, which is affiliated to specialist render and paint manufacturer Armourcoat. Into this purist space he has introduced a series of striking gestures based on the curve and the triangle. A slot, covered by structural glass, has been cut into the floor inside the front window. This helps to define the front of the showroom, lets light down into the basement below and sets up a play on triangular shapes which is continued in the furniture and lighting tracks.
The ceiling curves sensuously above the half stairs, while the wall below bellies out towards the workshop behind the showroom. A sliver-shaped glass case containing bowls of natural ground pigments has been mounted on the wall behind the triangular glass shop counter.
At the back of the shop, leading to the basement archive and library, is an unusual stairs, evolved by Rupert Kitchen and John Tomalin-Reeves, working from Brill's concept of a stairway in transparent resin. In place of resin, the treads are made of bolted Perspex and plywood battens supported on a welded steel riser: delicate and semi-transparent from above, from other angles the structure appears chunky and solid.
The finishes in the showroom, from polished plaster to hand-painted mosaic and marble floor, were applied by Victoria Brill and Sarah Curran of Lustro Interior Finishes; the plaster is a fine example of the sort of plaster finishes Phelens enjoys marketing. These comprise a range of twentieth- century colours researched by Lustro.
A large part of the budget had to be spent on strengthening floor beams; the Hafele runners for the sample boards were also expensive, yet the Brills and their colleagues have succeeded in producing the 'earthy and organic effect' that the client requested.