The British design dealer Jermaine Gallacher still remembers the first apartment he lived in with his family in the late ’80s and early ’90s, in a Victorian terrace house in Brighton, England. “My mum had all this amazing paint-effect furniture from the ’80s, which now I love,” he says, recalling a set of bright coral-pink wooden folding chairs. Though he didn’t know it at the time, that irreverent Memphis Group-inspired aesthetic would be significant to his career: Now 31, Gallacher sells an eclectic mix of furniture and design objects — from postmodern ceramic candelabras to gothic cast-iron high-backed chairs — at his eponymous showroom on Lant Street in Borough, South London. His disregard for trends and his offbeat approach to sourcing pieces, from both emerging designers and markets and auctions across Europe, has garnered him a loyal customer base of British fashion editors, stylists and artists.
Gallacher’s showroom occupies a large lime-washed, pine-paneled room on the ground floor of a 19th-century cork factory. On a recent visit, it was decorated with objects including a set of triangular metal pendant lights in vibrant Crayola colors (“maybe ’80s Ikea,” says Gallacher), a German arts-and-crafts basket constructed from pine cones (scored at a West London market) and an eight-foot-tall articulated orange metal floor lamp by the Ukranian designer Ksenia Pedan that resembles a robotic giraffe. Filling the northern side of the room was a melee of low ’50s-era Formica chairs and tables that Gallacher acquired from a working men’s club in Surrey Quays, the quiet suburban dockland southeast of the River Thames. Soon, these seats will be filled with wine-sipping locals: On June 28, Gallacher will open a bar within the showroom that will serve, on Thursday and Friday nights, selections from the neighboring wine merchant Lant Street Wine, which stocks vintages from small-batch producers and family-run estates.
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Gallacher began dealing furniture at 18, while studying illustration at Camberwell College of Arts. He ran a stall with his friend Oliver Burslem, the frontman of the British rock band Yak, at Old Spitalfields Market in East London, selling vintage and midcentury finds that he’d often salvaged from the street. After graduating, he started dealing furniture and designing spaces full time. Perhaps most notably, in 2012, he helped create the short-lived but locally beloved Peckham Hotel bar in South London with the British design firm Practice Architecture, the restaurateur Frank Boxer (of the popular rooftop Campari bar Frank’s Cafe, also in Peckham) and the cocktail connoisseur Coco Bayley, who learned her trade at the classic Soho restaurant and member’s club Quo Vadis. Bayley will now oversee the operation of Gallacher’s Lant Street bar, alongside Ben Wilcock, the owner of Lant Street Wines. Together, they have devised a minimalist menu of food and drink pairings — a single beer from the nearby South London brewery Orbit, for example, will be accompanied by Perelló Gordal olives and white Spanish anchovies — though more adventurous wines like Albert Seltz’s intensely aromatic gewürztraminer or a Slovenian Santomas, a cabernet sauvignon, will join the roster on occasion. For Gallacher, this next chapter for the showroom feels natural: “It will be nice to make it a more communal space, because we’re locals, Ben and I.”
At the bar’s soft-launch celebration, the musician David Gilmour, of Pink Floyd, sat in a cartoonish grenadine red chair, constructed from rounded cutout wooden shapes, designed by his daughter-in-law, the set designer and furniture maker Janina Pedan. By the entrance were pieces by her sister Ksenia, including a huge industrial steel standing lamp topped with a tiny red distressed silk shade. On a gate-legged table in the corner, the set designer Polly Philp’s unwieldy prehistoric-looking cement candleholders offset the artist Miranda Keyes’s fat jesmonite foot-shaped bookends. The bar itself — a zinc-topped three-meter-long counter with diamond-paneled teak marquetry — was made specially for the space by the London-based artist Charlie Froud, known for his surreal domestic sculptures. Many of the designers were there in person, too, sipping a Cremant d’Alsace and representing the buzzing, social community of young artists that Gallacher has brought together.
On the wall to the right of the bar was a sheep’s wool rug in a graphic black, white and hot pink checkerboard print, produced by the Norlha weaving atelier on the Tibetan Plateau. Named the Denney rug — after the fiercely glamorous midcentury British fashion photographer and interior designer Anthony Denney — the piece was designed by Gallacher for an interiors exhibition he will present later this month at Denney’s former home, Rainham Hall, a grand house in East London built in 1729. Working with such an Old World institution may seem at odds with Gallacher’s anarchic tastes, but the project appeals to his infinite appetite for newness. He’ll upend two of the property’s classically Georgian wood-paneled rooms with pieces from his stable of up-and-coming designers, such as a roughly hewn white plaster lamp by the London-based sculptor Viola Lanari and a tie-dyed screen print by the British artist Christopher Page. “I’ve never had anything I don’t want to sell, and I don’t look at the past,” Gallacher says. “I’m more of a tomorrow person.”
Lant Street, at 59-61 Lant Street, London, is open for wine on Thursdays and Fridays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., lantstreet.com.