Photographer Baker and filmmaker Alex Simpson have teamed up to create this short film about pioneering modernist architect and designer Well Coates and his buildings, The Isokon in Hampstead, London and the Embassy Courts in Brighton. The project initially started as a photo series by Baker a few months earlier: “I approached Alex with the idea of making it into a documentary, once it had all been planned, worked out and light/camera gear favours pulled in, we shot it over a two-week period,” says the photographer.
“I fell in love with the Isokon about a decade ago when a friend tried to convince me to buy one of the apartments,” he says. Alex adds: “Being a born and bred Brightonian, Embassy Court has always been a fixture in my mind map of home. When I was a kid in the early 90s the building was a mess and a real eyesore. But that changed when the building received a facelift in the mid 2000s and I felt a genuine spike of pride.”
Previous residents of the Isokon and Embassy Court have been novelist Agatha Christie, sculptor Henry Moore and Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus School. As well as beautiful shots of the iconic structures’ clean lines and off-white facades, the film also talks to the residents of both buildings about living there. “When I was shooting the stills project, part of that involved spending a lot of time with the residents and listening to their stories,” explains Baker. This personal insight and glimpse into its history offers a deeper connection to the static structures.
Just as Coates’ career was taking off, WW2 started which halted any potential projects for the architect. Never fully regaining momentum, Coates died feeling as though he underachieved so Baker and Alex’s film is an ode to the architect who never realised his impact on architecture and design. “His great work deserves to be celebrated and bought to the masses and hopefully this film helps to open up that awareness that little bit more,” they say.
About the Author
Rebecca Fulleylove is a freelance writer and editor specialising in art, design and culture. She is also senior writer at Creative Review, having previously worked at Elephant, Google Arts & Culture, and It’s Nice That.