LASSCO - meet the mavericks of architectural antiques

LASSCO - meet the mavericks of architectural antiques

When Oli came up with the concept of the 'Bloomsbury Man' for the Autumn 22 collection, he was inspired by the artistic and literary scene stemming from that famous part of central London. The Bloomsbury set were a pivotal group of artists, creatives and thinkers in the early part of the 20th century, whose outlook on life and love left an indelible impact on society. And so Oli wanted to encapsulate elements of that period in the collection, specifically with an emphasis on texture and tailored silhouettes to create a writerly look. Members of the Bloomsbury Set such as Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant all designed their interiors using salvaged furniture and other items, so when it came to shooting the campaign images, Oli's first thought was LASSCO, the architectural salvage experts and antique house at the historical Brunswick House in Vauxhall. Not only was it the source of the parquet flooring in our Lambs Conduit Street stores, but it was the perfect venue to get a sense of the Bloomsbury aesthetic, filled to the rafters with ornate antiques and quirky finds.

We loved it so much that we had to come back with photographer Kenneth Lam to shoot George Amos and Chris Martin in the new season collection. George runs the show at LASSCO while Chris is the head buyer there, so together they have an incredible insight into the architectural design industry, besides being really great guys. When we weren't making them pose, we had a chat a really interesting chat about the business, which you can. read below.

Brook Shirt Rowan Charcoal Multi

Brook Shirt Rowan
Charcoal Multi

Brook Shirt Camden Cord Yellow

Brook Shirt Camden
Cord Yellow

Solovair x Oliver Spencer Brown Suede Gibson Shoes

Solovair x Oliver Spencer Brown
Suede Gibson Shoes

Oliver Spencer: So how did you get started in the business, George?

George Amos: It’s a family business so my first role was sweeping the yard on school holidays, at 14 - for £30 a day! I properly started full time in my mid-twenties. Entry level jobs were cleaning and stacking wood blocks, pressure testing radiators and driving the forklift, then I graduated to selling furniture, lighting and mid-century design at the Ropewalk shop in Bermondsey (now Maltby Street Market). These days I’m a jack of all trades. Website manager, delivery driver, salesman… still occasional yard sweep.

New York Special Shirt Elmsley Green

New York Special
Shirt Elmsley Green

Buffalo Jacket Cord Cream

Buffalo Jacket
Cord Cream

Miller Socks Brunel Cream/Brown

Miller Socks Brunel

Chris Martin: My route into the industry was through my mother who dealt in antiques, so I also grew up with it. I remember being driven around in her Volvo estate picking up bits of furniture and spending school holidays in her gargantuan warehouse, full of massive bits of furniture. It was freezing cold and very boring but something must have piqued my interest. I was always encouraged to buy and sell stuff to make some of my own money and it carried on from there. One day I approached LASSCO and pestered them ad nauseam for a job – eventually they relented. One of my first jobs was the thankless task of cleaning 20 Belfast sinks from a local school’s art department, I must have done a decent job as I’m still here.

Fowey Bomber Jacket Ellbridge Black

Fowey Bomber Jacket
Ellbridge Black

OS: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever bought or found, Chris?

CM: A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on the fire surround from the Alexander McQueen flagship store on Savile Row. It was a complete riot of modern Gothic-Baroque and included all sorts of typical McQueen motifs such as the skull in the middle and the wide, outstretched wings. A truly exceptional and unique piece which will be revered for years to come. It didn’t come without regrets though – such was the voracity of the demolition job that a lot of the en suite panelling got skipped and I’m forever convinced I let it go too cheap!

Pleated Trousers Fairview Black

Pleated Trousers
Fairview Black

Brook Shirt Warland Green Multi

Brook Shirt Warland
Green Multi

OS: What do you love most about LASSCO?

GA: Antiques and architectural salvage is steeped in history and tradition. It’s a world of affluent anonymous buyers, mysterious foreign suppliers and little black contacts books that are fiercely guarded. A lot of handshake deals, reputation is everything. Being a younger team, we’ve had to embrace huge changes to the industry and shop keeping, as everything has gone digital. I love that we’ve been able to adapt to this new world without losing touch of what we stand for.

CM: The scope of our stock is very broad which keeps the buying interesting – nothing is really out of bounds because of style, age or type. Recent arrivals include an incredibly rare Tudor stone fireplace, a Hans Wegner sideboard from the mid-1950s and next week we’re picking up a huge Italian bronze fountain – the three pieces couldn’t be more different. Also when not out buying I’m lucky enough to work in an exceptional mid-eighteenth century building. Brunswick House remains pleasingly untouched inside and out in quite a unique way and the contrast between it, with its Palladian pediment and postcard-like proportions, amid all the thrusting modernity of Vauxhall, never gets boring.

Arisaig Sweatshirt Lulworth Green

Arisaig Sweatshirt
Lulworth Green

Arisaig Sweatshirt Lulworth Midnight

Arisaig Sweatshirt
Lulworth Midnight

Calstock Track Top Lulworth Green

Calstock Track Top
Lulworth Green

OS: What’s the history of Brunswick House?

GA: Brunswick House was originally Belmont house, built in 1758 and it become the family home of the Duke of Brunswick who first leased it in 1811. It has a rich and storied history that you can read on the LASSCO website. But to me it will always be a ‘Super Squat’. We did an art exhibition here early on, by that name, and it stuck with me. The house was still squatted when we took it over in 2002 and there was evidence of parties and squat raves in every room. I lived in the caretaker flat on the top floor for many years. It feels like we’re all squatting it; the antiques, the art, the staff, the restaurant patrons, the wedding guests. We’re all a bit scruffy in comparison to the faded Georgian splendour of the old house.

Bembridge Fleece Jacket Fairfax Navy

Bembridge Fleece
Jacket Fairfax Navy

Bembridge Fleece Jacket Fairfax Brown

Bembridge Fleece
Jacket Fairfax Brown

OS: How do you go about finding all the amazing things at LASSCO?!

CM: The company was started in the 1970s (before the term ‘architectural salvage’ had even been coined) and over all the years we have managed to build up a very good network of contacts and suppliers. London is a fantastic ‘natural resource’ for us – it is filled with exceptional buildings and homes with the finest fixtures and fittings, which keep on giving. Despite the fact that in that time every square inch of London has been developed and every building modernised, the calls keep on coming in.

OS: What do you find most people come to LASSCO for?

CM: Primarily architectural antiques – there’s so many bits and pieces from buildings that are being pulled apart that are of wonderful quality and design, and deserve a chance to be used again. The subtle and appropriate use of them in the restoration of old buildings lends an authenticity that cannot be matched.
Apart from that, the ‘old’ part of our business, these days most people come here for a party amongst all our stock or a meal in the wonderful restaurant next door!

OS: What aspects of the business have changed the most since you started?

GA: When I started, we hadn’t even thought of hiring out rooms at Brunswick House. And now, the events team and Jackson Boxer in the restaurant, ensure that we’re completely booked up all the time. Party in an antiques shop sounds like bull in a China shop, but somehow the porters and the table staff make it work night after night. It would feel eerily empty without it now.

OS: Is it true you’re also involved in the Maltby Street market in Bermondsey?

GA: Maltby Street Market started in 2010 when a group of Borough Market traders opened the doors to their warehousing, situated in the arches along the Ropewalk. At the time, we were running our reclaimed flooring business there and we couldn’t understand where these well-dressed foodies kept turning up from, every Saturday morning, with bags of cheese and wine and beer. Eventually we twigged what was going on and we offered the front of our arches to food traders, as pop-up space. Once we got an alcohol license approved, the whole place exploded with people, who would stay all weekend. We’ve been running the market for a long time and we’ve taken on traders and staff from the Neckinger estate, Kipling estate and local area. We’re very proud to be in Bermondsey.

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