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Contacts Book: Gundry + Ducker reveal their favourite collaborators

Words:
Tyeth Gundry and Christian Ducker

Tyeth Gundry and Christian Ducker open their contacts book to share the professionals they like to work with, and the artisanal, sustainable and practical considerations that motivate them

Terrazzo floor created by Zan Peltek for Gundry + Ducker’s Bay Window house.
Terrazzo floor created by Zan Peltek for Gundry + Ducker’s Bay Window house.

Zan Peltek

Zan Peltek is our terrazzo man – every architect should have one! He’s a one-man band and has been making stuff for us for years: floors, kitchen counters, all sorts of things. He makes the terrazzo floors on site but for the rest, he makes moulds, casts them in his garage and polishes them up in an entirely bespoke process.

If we say we want a floor with big bits of broken marble or different colour stones in it, he’ll just go away and do it. His work at our White Rabbit House in Islington, London, where he did the terrazzo floor, staircase and the exterior cladding, really made the project.

Everything we do is on a tight budget, so working with Zan is a way of achieving some special things at a not ridiculous cost.

  • Zan Peltek, Gundry + Ducker’s go-to terrazzo contractor.
    Zan Peltek, Gundry + Ducker’s go-to terrazzo contractor. Credit: Gundry + Ducker
  • Detail of terrazzo sample created by Zan Peltek for Gundry + Ducker’s Bay Window house.
    Detail of terrazzo sample created by Zan Peltek for Gundry + Ducker’s Bay Window house. Credit: Gundry + Ducker
  • Terrazzo samples created by Zan Peltek for Gundry + Ducker’s Bay Window house.
    Terrazzo samples created by Zan Peltek for Gundry + Ducker’s Bay Window house. Credit: Gundry + Ducker
  • Bespoke terrazzo created by Zan Peltek for Gundry + Ducker’s Bay Window house.
    Bespoke terrazzo created by Zan Peltek for Gundry + Ducker’s Bay Window house. Credit: Gundry + Ducker
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He’s a real artisan and it’s very much a case of two buckets of this and one bucket of that. Because the mix varies, there’s a handmade quality to his work. It’s not uniform, which is really nice. 

Everything is done on trust, and the process isn’t without jeopardy. You don’t always know what you’ll get but there’s a very good chance that it’ll be great.

He’s quite an unpredictable character and doesn’t have a website, just a mobile phone and email: zan_peltek@yahoo.com

Micho light made by Rankin McGregor for a restaurant in Paris designed by Gundry + Ducker.
Micho light made by Rankin McGregor for a restaurant in Paris designed by Gundry + Ducker. Credit: Andrew Meredith

Rankin McGregor

Julian Rankin is who we turn to for lights. We have the classic artisanal relationship with him. First there’s a dialogue on the idea that goes back and forth, then a sketch or two often followed by something Julian has mocked up. Sometimes we are looking for something simple, to solve a situational problem such as a light for a counter (few exist) based around existing components. Sometimes it’s much more complicated. He advises on design, organises the cutting, milling, painting and sourcing, and then assembles and kite-marks. That sort of collaboration is one of the most pleasurable exercises you can have as a designer – just a delight.

  • Light at Good Egg restaurant made by Rankin McGregor for Gundry + Ducker.
    Light at Good Egg restaurant made by Rankin McGregor for Gundry + Ducker. Credit: Andrew Meredith
  • Design drawings for bespoke light collaboration with Rankin McGregor.
    Design drawings for bespoke light collaboration with Rankin McGregor.
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Julian has a real eye for design. Our relationship with him goes back to the 1990s when we were working with Nigel Coates. After we started our own practice in 2007, we got back in touch with him and his wife Spike, and have been working together ever since. We find it’s often easier to make a simple light with Julian than find something suitable online, and more importantly helps projects to be themselves. Even though it’s bespoke, they are very reasonably priced.

Like Zan, Rankin doesn’t have a website. His email is julesrankin@icloud.com

Ash floor.
Ash floor. Credit: Andrew Meredith

Sutton Timber

Despite the seemingly endless array of timber flooring available, much of it relies on elaborate factory stains, paints and artificial ageing methods like wire brushing to disguise what is usually bland and poor-quality timber. The main disadvantage of this is that when the timber gets worn, the factory finishes are difficult to replicate on site, and specialist refinishing can sometimes cost more than the original floor. The result is a fundamentally unsustainable throw-away product.

Instead, we generally look for something robust that can be easily refinished, and often turn to Sutton Timber.

  • Ash log at Sutton Timber, Gundry + Ducker’s regular timber supplier.
    Ash log at Sutton Timber, Gundry + Ducker’s regular timber supplier. Credit: Sutton Timber
  • Ash flooring during manufacture at Sutton Timber.
    Ash flooring during manufacture at Sutton Timber. Credit: Sutton Timber
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Sutton Timber is run by Ben Sutton, who isn’t prepared to waste wood but instead uses the whole tree, so you get what he gives you. As a result there’s an artisan quality to it – it looks like wood rather than a perfect version of wood. It’s 22mm thick so that you can sand it down every five years and still have a really beautiful floor.

There’s a tendency for architects to always use oak for because it’s easy and readily available. But we’re really into more unusual woods, and Sutton Timber supplies a variety of hardwoods, mainly from the UK. We’ve used really nice elm – making use of timber produced by the recent elm die back – lots of English ash and an English cherry, which is a nice light pink colour compared with the darker American cherry.

Garden designed by Adolfo Harrison at Gundry + Ducker’s White Rabbit House.
Garden designed by Adolfo Harrison at Gundry + Ducker’s White Rabbit House. Credit: Andrew Meredith

Adolfo Harrison

Adolfo is a landscape designer who we met when he designed the garden at White Rabbit House after we’d finished our work there. When we saw it, we thought it was amazing. It seemed completely integrated into our design even though it had been designed separately.

Ever since then we’ve been trying to work with him from the start of projects and we’re finally collaborating on a house in Thames Ditton. We know zero about plants but it’s already been a very collaborative process. There’s a 70m-long garden that’s going to be a series of rooms graduating from cultivated nearest to the house to wild further away, with a little pavilion that will end the vista. It’s going to be interesting to see how it turns out – Adolfo will certainly find a way to subvert it.

As told to Pamela Buxton

 

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