David Hellqvist talks to store founder Christopher Vaughn about mixing past and present in order to offer a new consumer experience
Another day, another store eh? They come thick and fast these days, fashion and interior design shops that seem to look and sell identical garments and gadgets. So it’s refreshing when a boutique pops up – albeit exclusive to the Internet – that takes a distinctive and unique point of view when it comes to what products we really need in life, and why. Producing new pieces anchored in yesterday’s aesthetic and purpose isn’t always easy, and that’s why Paris-based Briton Christopher Vaughn, and his Godwin Vaughn store are starting out with baby steps, but steps already firm enough to make a mark. Skilfully mixing archive vintage pieces with a limited selection of newly produced goods, Godwin Vaughn sets out to marry the best bits of history and future…
David: Describe GV in a sentence?
Christopher: Essentials for modern living.
David: Who is Godwin?
Christopher: E.W. Godwin was an architect and designer working in the 19th century. His Anglo-Japanese style furniture is breathtaking, his ideas were similar to Christopher Dresser’s and that of the Arts & Crafts movement, and he included Oscar Wilde amongst his clients.
David: Can you explain that Arts & Crafts connection further?
Christopher: The Arts & Crafts movement was an artistic movement that began in England as a reaction to the increasing industrialisation of the Victorian era, and the negative impact that had on decorative design. Its influence stretched much further than England – it was a big influence on Art Nouveau, the Vienna Secession (and the Wiener Werkstätte), and Bauhaus.
“When an object’s function is lost to time, it’s interesting what it says about society and how we’ve changed”
David: How much is produced by you and how much by others?
Christopher: Personally – nothing. I’ve been lucky enough to work with specialist craftsmen in their fields on the Godwin Vaughan products. To begin with, I have focused on two items, a bag and a blanket, each produced in three colourways.
David: What are you looking for when buying pieces for the store?
Christopher: Utility and relevance to how we live now, and simple geometric forms. When an object’s function is lost to time, it’s interesting what it says about society and how we’ve changed. But the value of those items is in their novelty. I’m very keen that the objects we sell are still used by the people that buy them.David: For you, what’s the division between form and function? What’s more important?
Christopher: The division is blurred, because often the most beautiful objects are those that work well. From Christopher Dresser to Dieter Rams, many great designers have espoused the importance of function and simplicity of form; we’re following their lead.
“We were spurred on by the need to rid the world of men ruining the aesthetic of a suit by hiking their gym kit around in a nylon rucksack”
David: How did you settle on the GV products you’ve co-produced?
Christopher: From the beginning, we wanted to do a bag. We were spurred on by the need to rid the world of men ruining the aesthetic of a suit by hiking their gym kit around in a nylon rucksack. The blanket happened after a conversation with graphic design duo STSQ: they came up some amazing ideas for the website and the Godwin Vaughn stationery – they were just too good not to develop into something more tangible.
David: Which one was most complicated and why?
Christopher: The bag. Doing things so simply was actually really tough. Construction-wise, it was a huge challenge to get the shape we wanted using the materials we wanted, whilst keeping the design simple.
David: What’s your professional journey and how did you end up establishing Godwin Vaughn?
Christopher: Whilst working as a buyer at Ralph Lauren, I gained a lot experience working in vintage and antiques, it gave me a good base to work from and taught me a lot about the trade. But a lot of what
they did wasn’t exactly my cup of tea; there were people and designers that I began to become aware of that just weren’t right for the Ralph customer.
When I moved to Wooyoungmi, I worked on the concept for their lifestyle space in the Seoul flagship store. It included a fair bit of Dieter Rams and mid-century items. The store was great, but the distance didn’t allow me to fully realise the ideas I wanted. Godwin Vaughan is the chance for me to do that. To try and blow some of the dust off the world of antiques, and at the same time, offer a modern, fashionable product that isn’t going to be thrown away when the next season comes around.
David: What is ‘must have’ in the store and why?
Christopher: Of course, a bag or blanket is what you really need. But I’ll be very sad to see the Andrée Putman lamps go. They’re very indicative of her style and they embody the humour she put into her work. They’re also wonderfully restrained – unlike a lot of 1980s and 90s design.
More info HERE