To kick start the 2016 festive season, Sarabande: The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation hosted 'The Reindeer 2016’, with East London restaurant Bistrotheque, supported by Ketel One. Filled with over a hundred trees and an entrance through a fur coat-lined ‘wardrobe', guests were welcomed into the immersive pop-up dining experience with an art installation from Sarabande Foundation artist-in-residence, Esna Su. The event was a resounding success and was featured in Vogue, The New York Times, Womenswear Daily and Evening Standard amongst others.
The event was presented by - and in aid of - Sarabande, the charity set up by the Lee Alexander McQueen foundation to provide financial support to young creative minds who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford further education. The Sarabande interiors are designed by Pentagram, marking a new chapter in the consultancy’s decade-long collaboration with McQueen, which includes the interiors for flagship stores in New York, London and Milan.
Central to Sarabande’s philosophy is ‘giving back’, which includes scholarships, a mentoring programme and a HQ in East London, which serves as a collaborative hub for young artistic minds. Studio spaces at the Sarabande HQ are available on ‘peppercorn’ rents, and are open to young creatives from many different disciplines. The building’s studios are currently occupied by, among others, Central Saint Martins menswear alumni Craig Green and John Alexander Skelton, and jewellery designers selected by Shaun Leane, one of McQueen’s long-term collaborators and Patron of the Foundation.
In accordance with the philosophy of the foundation, the interiors are democratic and simple, allowing the creative work within to take centre stage. Working with a modest budget, Pentagram selected a materiality and aesthetic that would fit within the foundation’s Grade II-listed industrial space. Plywood is used throughout the downstairs studio section, both on the walls and as a lining which joins each studio to a central corridor. The upstairs gallery and events space, which hosted 'The Reindeer 2016’, uses the same plywood lining, as well as plasterboard in the gallery. The simple interiors serve as a canvas for the ever-changing creatives, events and exhibitions at Sarabande, allowing each element to temporarily flourish before a new one comes in.
Watch 'Ten Years With Lee', a short film looking back at Pentagram’s work with Alexander McQueen and his brand.