What a trip it would be to walk the streets of London during the swinging sixties and seventies. One of my first stops would be Mr. Freedom, the nutty clothing store of Tommy Roberts. It was a departure from the hippie movement, and looked totally unique in its pop art kookiness in part because of the mad genius of architect and interior designer Jon Wealleans.
Wealleans proposed a space filled with gigantic wire hangers, an armchair made from large set of upholstered false teeth, interlocking seat in the shape of huge puzzle pieces and a giant statue of liberty light fixture.
He also designed the interior to Mr. Feed'ems, the downstairs restaurant that featured food dyed crazy colors (like green mashed potatoes and fuchsia sausages). It's walls featured large poppy murals of hot dogs and ice cream.
A portfolio of Wealleans sketches for the spaces was recently sold at The Best of British Design auction at Sotheby's.
Wealleans was also a collaborator with Led Zeppelin favorite, Paul Reeves and helped with the money is no object refurbishing of the Zep's manager, Peter Grant's Kensington home. Photos of the finished product, one absolutely amazing townhouse, can be seen here from architectural magazines in 1975. Wealleans was extremely nervous about the tough guy Grant's reaction to the project, which took two years, because he didn't see any of the work in progress.
“I opened the door and it may be a clich?, but he literally blotted out the sun,” laughs Wealleans. Reeves, meanwhile, had prudently put some champagne on ice. “He spent around five minutes looking around, not saying a word,” says Reeves.”Then he pronounced. ? gotta say Paul?t's fucking amazing!' We got the champagne out and a couple of grams of coke and everything was alright!”
Wealleans is currently an artist represented by Francis Kyle Gallery.