Just around the corner from Liverpool Street station, within the embrace of London's finance district, sits a street of dusted and blackened Edwardian terraced houses, their doors worn and stripped of paint, with flowers climbing their walls. The houses are a direct contrast to the glass monoliths and geometric courtyards adjacent, seemingly at odds with the world around them. But these houses, like their residents, sit not with defiance, but with a quiet, rumbling undertone of modernity, expectation, and a subtle underdog pride.
The residents in question are the team at The Future Laboratory; as much a juxtaposition as the buildings that they have made their office spaces. A warren of Painted wooden floorboards, narrow winding staircases, and cosy alcoves are punctuated with glass succulent vases, retro remote robots, quirky coffee mugs, and a bauhaus 'sofa-come-chaise longue' in the reception that in itself seems to encourage anticipation. Even the entrance requires that you duck into the porthole doorway, like entering some sort of Alice and Wonderland fantasy.
Technically a trend forecasting agency, they are themselves in fact a brand. A distillation and realisation of every dreamy Tumblr blog, they capture the perfect blend of old and new, minimalism and modernism, soft stony palettes, with a nostalgic appreciation, yet always focused on the future. They even have two signature scents, Innovate and Inspire, which seem to punctuate the very essence of what The Future Laboratory is trying to achieve. Because what better way to prove that as a trend forecaster, you are worth your salt, than to lead by example?
LS:N Global, the trend forecasting arm of the team, is as much a part of the furniture as the Edison light bulbs. We were shown around their work spaces by Sam Schneider, who held him self with a reserved consideration. Every detail was worth mentioning, described with deep and deliberate care, yet as we wound our way through the levels of the building, I could feel the proverbial pocket watch he was carrying, not so much with impatience, but an almost anxious awareness of the changing world around us, that each and every individual at LS:N attempts to capture.
Sitting in on one of their editorial meetings, the team of entirely youthful figures talk and share almost like static bouncing between them, off circular spectacle frames, and flame licked jewellery. Individuality is so clearly valued, and yet everyone seems to share a certain similar uniform. Like a message to prospective clients, an example on how to balance a unified image with eclectic design.
What impressed me too, was an understanding of a shared goal. Rejecting and refining ideas is an essential and continuous daily part of their process, and cultivating an environment where this is beneficial is testament to their vision. Talking to them, It was stressed the importance of being able to justify everything they put forward. Engaging and capturing and documenting the international landscape in minute detail, with facts and figures and imagery all held in equal regard, so that when they unveil their visions, they could prove over and over the strength of their convictions.
As we stood on the roof of these buildings, surrounded by home grown herbs vegetables, it became apparent that even then, The Future Laboratory was outgrowing itself. Stood on these ageing buildings, I realised then that the team here are just one special part of a time coin that we all struggle to balance, between understanding and embracing the future, yet not being afraid to turn our back on the past. The aesthetic here has a much more valuable purpose, it is clear. Working as a team in an environment that is so full of history and what has been, allows them all to focus on what is coming, in Their Future Laboratory.
James Eachán, & Jess Marlor, Students.