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Back to lavish after austerity: post-war showcase of art and design

Suzanne Waters

London’s most lavishly finished building of its kind since the war, Michael Rosenauer’s 1953 Time Life building was packed with contemporary art and design

Time Life building  New Bond Street, London, 1953.
Time Life building New Bond Street, London, 1953.

The Time Life building in New Bond Street by Michael Rosenauer was described in The Architectural Review as ‘the most lavishly finished building of its kind to be erected in London since the war’. Sir Hugh Casson was appointed as the co-ordinating designer for the interior, assisted by Misha Black of the Design Research Unit. They were asked to create a rich setting that would not overwhelm the casual visitor and to provide a showcase of British contemporary art and design.

The first floor reception designed by Casson and Black fulfils this. Large enough for parties, it has the warmth of a welcoming club, with its scattering of easy chairs and low tables designed by RD Russell. The gold clock at the far end, designed by Christopher and Robin Ironside, sits on an Armillary Sphere, on which are engraved the signs of the zodiac. An American eagle, a British lion and the figure of Time in gilded wood are grouped around it. A wrought-iron sculpture on the far left, entitled ‘The Complexities of Man’, is by Geoffrey Clarke.

‘Office Chic’, an exhibition of post-war office interiors, is in the RIBA Library until 28 July.