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Electric Colour Company: Blueberry Hill – London’s shortest-lived boutique – and the customised Ford Fairlane 500

Apr 29th, 2014
R, C & D, 1971

//Electric Colour Company’s Roderic Stokes and David Smith with Carol Davey at Blueberry Hill, 91 King’s Road, London, 1970//

Here are a couple of images relating to late 60s/early 70s British design studio Electric Colour Company; I’m writing a magazine feature about their exceptional body of work which ran from signage, custom-built furniture and shop designs (notably Mr Freedom, Paradise Garage and City Lights Studio) to lighting modules, display objects, interior decoration, murals, custom cars and fashion accessories.

In November 1970 the King’s Road boutique Blueberry Hill was launched with a comprehensive fit-out – reported at a substantial-for-those-days £3,000 – by the ECC team of Andrew Greaves, Jeffrey Pine, David Smith and Roderic Stokes.


//By the time this coverage appeared in the February 1971 issue of Design magazine, Blueberry Hill had been closed for several weeks//

Despite the extraordinary nature of the shop design – which included cloud-form light fittings in neon strip  and a timber counter with spray-on brickwork finish resembling a well-head – Blueberry Hill closed after just six weeks when the landlords opted to replace it with a more bankable betting shop.

I & D & Fairlane, 1970

//Irene Smith and Dinah Adams with the ECC-customised Ford Fairlane 500, 1970//

Full-Page  ad.  'TIME OUT' 1970

//Advert, Time Out, 1970//

The other photograph shows ECC fellow travellers Dinah Adams – who designed clothes for Mr Freedom, Paradise Garage and Granny Takes A Trip – and Irene Smith with the customised Ford Fairlane which also appeared in the East End company’s advertising.

I’ll give the nod when my piece on Electric Colour Company is nearing publication.

Visit the ECC site here.

Thanks to Andrew Greaves for the photographs.

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Bravura + brilliance: Tommy Roberts, February 6 1941 – December 10 2012

Dec 10th, 2013

//Tommy Roberts, 1987. Photo: Christopher Clunn//

Sad to note the anniversary today of the death of Tommy Roberts, flamboyant design entrepreneur and subject of my book Mr Freedom.


//Dedication (right) with (left on cover-flap) list of abiding interests (courtesy Eve Ferret + Mark Summerfield) and Brian Aris portrait//


//Roberts opened Kleptomania with Charlie Simpson in Kingly Street, central London, in 1966//


//Neon arch sales counter display designed by Jeffrey Pine for Mr Freedom, opened with partner Trevor Myles at 430 King’s Road in September 1969//

Here – with a selection of images from Mr Freedom – is an extract from an essay I have written about Roberts’ role in the development of design in Britain for Chris Breward and Ghislaine Wood’s book British Design: Tradition & Modernity, which will be published by Bloomsbury next year.

It is arguable that wider recognition for Tommy Roberts’ audacious innovations in the promotion of street style, furniture, gastronomy, home-wares, interiors and collectables was undercut by his refusal to observe the sensitivities of England’s post-war design world.

Roberts adopted an ebullient public persona to match his stout physique and broad Cockney accent. “I’m the most vulgar man in fashion, darlin’!” Roberts proclaimed to the no-less outrageous Sunday Times fashion editor Molly Parkin in the heyday of his Pop Art fashion and objects emporium Mr Freedom.

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Flocked + tiger-striped: The Paradise Garage Ford Mustang

Jul 6th, 2013

//Trevor Myles, Mustang and 430 King's Road, late summer 1971. Photo: Michael Roberts//

//From Michael Roberts' article Men & Their Machines, Club, October 1971//

Trevor Myles’ decision to incorporate a flocked and tiger-striped 1966 Ford Mustang as part of his retail space Paradise Garage naturally attracted a lot of attention during the brief existence of this unusual fashion outlet at 430 King’s Road in Chelsea’s World’s End in 1971.

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Tommy Roberts: A Display At Mr Freedom

Apr 9th, 2011

//Side view, 7' x 4' Daz box, Jeffrey Pine, 1970. Photo: David Smith.//

Mr Freedom was as much an event as a boutique, described by the London Evening News in 1970 as a “spectacle like no other show on earth, taking place down the King’s Road non-stop, six days a week”.

Here Tommy Roberts reflects on some of the extraordinary in-store displays commissioned from young artists and designers.

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