I’ll never get tyred of this place!
Due to the growing need for a more permanent London base, R&P now has office space in my favourite London building, Michelin House in SW3.
I'm pretty much like a kid in a candy store, given I have always loved this place - one of the first concrete constructions in the UK and a wonderful example of art nouveau, decorative industrial building. Everything about it is beautiful in an utterly unique way. It exudes individuality, success, a pioneering spirit and humour and mixes heritage with ultra modern design in a brilliant way.
Designed by a Michelin employee, François Espinasse, an engineer in the construction department at Michelin's headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand, it features the three large stained-glass windows depicting Michelin's original ads featuring the Michelin Man, his official name being "Bibendum".
Its design was pioneering, 20 years before its time being very much in the Art Deco style, but having been built much earlier (it opened in 1911), and due to its groundbreaking construction technique, having only taken five months to build.
The three amazing stained windows were actually removed during war time, to avoid damage or destruction from bombing, stored in crates in Michelin's factory in Stoke on Trent, then returned after the war.
If you've been to Michelin House you'll have seen the beautiful tiles all around the building, showing famous racing cars and other contemporary motor-related scenes from the early 20th centrury, together with the famous tiled area at the front - the old tyre-fitting bay. Tyre-fitting garages don't look like that any more!
Bibendum's Oyster bar - one of my favourite hangouts in London - is located in the old reception with its fabulous mosaic floor, showing Bibendum holding aloft a glass of nuts, bolts and other hazards, proclaiming "Nunc Est Bibendum" (Latin for "Now is the time to drink" which came from an ad that used the phrase along with a line that implied Michelin Tyres at all obstacles in their path).
This building could so easily have been ruined / demolished as, despite the original front section being given a Grade II listing in 1969, outline planning permission was granted to demolish all but the listed part in order to build a ten-storey office block! Michelin instead decided to spend the money on a new factory in North America and eventually put the building up for sale in 1985.
Luckily it was snapped up by publisher Paul Hamlyn and restaurateur/retailer Sir Terence Conran who had a shared a love for the building. The story goes that when the two friends realised they were bidding against each other for the building, they formed a partnership to secure it and formed new company, Michelin House Developments, restoring original features and developing it into a space for offices, the Conran Shop and the Bibendum Restaurant & Oyster Bar, breathing new life into this fabulous building.
So now I find myself in this fabulous building, home to The Argyll Club (recently rebranded from LEO - London Executive Offices), which now houses 5-star luxury office space, meeting rooms, event space, as well as virtual office services, situated in 38 prestigious buildings around the capital.
How lucky am I to be part of the ongoing story of this building, in the heart of my personal stomping ground, surrounded by the inspiration of true business pioneers.