Lee Broom is a busy man, busy doing what he loves, having fun designing. When we spoke he had been spending the afternoon designing a commemorative plate for the upcoming UK royal wedding – Kate and Wills. “I do like the Royals”, he confided, “but my plate is going to be a rather cheeky take on it” It’s a project for a magazine he declined to name. I got the impression that discretion is a skill he is fast developing.
We agreed that Lee is an honorary Londoner, having lived here for almost half his life and having had a hand in designing some of its top bars. He works in the East, lives in the South and clearly enjoys a good night ‘up West’. He was brought up with an apparent destiny to work the theater but winning a Clothes Show competition prize of spending time up close with Vivian Westwood brought about a change of direction. “I started by working with her in a small office for a few days “ confides Lee “but that developed into 7 or 8 months internship in Paris, working on the runway shows. I was only 17 at the time, she was amazing, really nice”.
His time with Westwood led to Lee taking a place at the world renowned St Martin’s College, studying fashion. While a student, Lee would more than occasionally find himself in a bar or two and his offer to help out with the décor developed into something bigger. The owners of London bar Nylon were taken with Lee’s ideas and work and soon he found himself the epicenter of a three quarter of a million pound transformation lasting nine months and creating an environment that would become the envy of other venues across London and beyond. Lee describes it as a nine-month training course on a live project.
There are clearly theatrical and fashion elements to Lee’s work. The sense of drama is clearly there in his bars. And his desire and ability to switch styles is reminiscent of the fashion world. He says himself that he doesn’t want to develop a style and stick to it and the differences between, Decanter Light and Heritage Boy (above), for example, show very different influences. We find ourselves talking about clothes and I tell him he is looking good in the Fred Perry Jeans he has been sporting lately. “I’ve been doing that for a while now”, he responds “Its all very mod – maybe I need to go rocker”. So look out for Lee in a tasseled leather jacket and brothel creepers, well maybe.
He is also keen to make his work relatively accessible, something that can be put in a box and sent to a friend. Hence the lights with retail prices starting at around £245 (around $388).
Fashion and bars are never far away for Lee. He has been responsible for the transformation of a good number in London and beyond, most recently the well received Coquine on Old Brompton Road (pictured above). He is working on interiors for a London fashion store, he won’t say where yet, and he is working on a new upholstery based line which will be launched in time for London Design Festival later this year. So watch out for Lee Broom sofas and chairs. And then there is a collaboration to be launched for Clerkenwell Design Festival. As we said, he is very busy.
Finally we talked a little about influences. Lee tells me he admires Guy Bourdin and his late 70s fashion photography all red lips and nails, gold jewelry and dramatic lighting. He is also a fan of Maison Martin Mergiela, their stores and retrospective exhibition which was on show at London’s Somerset House last summer. In terms of interiors he is a fan of the Beaufort Bar in London’s Savoy Hotel – more glamour, more drama, this time in black and gold leaf. At the same time Lee talks about his affection for the traditional London Boozer with London Soho reliables The Coach and Horses and Blue Posts getting honorable mentions alongside the legendary Arts Theatre Club, where Lee has been responsible for a quirky version of its original comfy familiarity.
Lee Broom already has a very impressive CV, a barn full of awards and many admirers. His star will continue to rise and it couldn’t happen to a harder working, more entertaining or more pleasant man.