London – London’s property market continues to stutter, buffeted by Brexit uncertainty, a natural cyclical correction in prices and a massive oversupply. There were 31,508 unsold homes in the capital as of 31 March, the highest number since such data has been collected. And problems are worst at the top end: Bloomberg’s analysis suggests London is facing its longest slump in luxury property sales in decades.
Not ideal conditions into which to launch the centrepiece residential development of a regeneration project almost two decades in the making, but that’s the situation Argent faced. Their WilkinsonEyre-designed apartment complex, situated inside a cluster of Victorian gasholders overlooking Kings Cross station, was completed in early 2018. Prices for studios start at north of £800,000 and run to the mid-7 millions for a penthouse.
A year and a half on and the developer has been forced to invest in some creative marketing, calling on fêted fashion designer Roksanda Ilinčić to stage one of the most expensive units. Once a rarity, home staging has become an increasingly important part of the estate agent’s arsenal in recent years. It now seems to be metamorphosing into a practice that goes beyond merely dressing a space to help buyers imagine what it might be like to live there, and towards something far more curatorial. The inference has shifted from ‘what could you make of this home’ to ‘what could this home make of you.’
The fashion designer has greater name recognition with potential buyers than an equivalent interior designer or architect might
Ilinčić’s treatment is a case in point. With its juxtaposition of furniture by the likes of Lina Bo Bardi and Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret and Tobia Scarpa, the space could well be accompanied by a series of wall texts and velvet ropes. As it is, a series of scents chosen by Lyn Harris of Perfumer H acts as an olfactory guide. Add in a liberal scattering of literature that runs from monographs on the likes of Barbara Hepworth and Anni Albers to books by Nell Dunn and Joan Didion, and you begin to understand that nothing here is incidental. You can buy the property in this fully furnished state for £7.75 million.