Electric Color Company • 1969 to 1973 • introduction

November 10, 2012

Background

The Electric Colour Company (ECC) consisting of Andrew Greaves, Jeffrey Pine, David Smith and Roderic Stokes was formed in 1969.
As a collective working in the late 60′s and early 70′s. They where probably unique in the UK as they worked on the border of fine art and contemporary three-dimensional design, engaging in the design and production of signage, custom built furniture, shop designs, lighting modules, display objects, interior decoration, murals, custom cars and fashion accessories.

Prior to its formation they had all been artists supporting their work by supplementary jobs, and their original intention was to use the collective as a way to exploit their individual skills more commercially whilst continuing with their own studio practices. However, once they started getting commissions, this intention became thwarted as the new venture took all of their creative time.

Having attended art school they were interested in many aspects of  Contemporary 20th Century Fine and Applied arts as well as the Audio/Visual culture developing at the time. Whilst they worked well together and were friends before and after the ECC’s existence – Andrew Greaves and Rod Stokes had previously had various two man joint exhibitions – they did not subscribe to any specific ethic or aesthetic creed. Communication between them tended to be easy because of their shared cultural influences, which, when combined with their complimentary practical skills, helped to make their output cohesive.

Unlike many of the designers at the time, they usually made the resulting work themselves rather than having their designs produced by specialists, unless it was technically necessary.
This, combined with a slightly maverick attitude, gave them a broader working platform than more conventional design groups, allowing them to work in a flexible and inter-changeable way, without the constraints of continual peer approval. This had the advantage of allowing pieces to be worked on collectively.
The initial design for a job was normally undertaken by an individual, with the others adding their input when and where it was necessary.

For further information use the hyperlinks below particularly Paul Gorman’s “the look” and others now being published.

Andrew Greaves

Roderic Stokes

David Smith

Jeffery Pine

Paul Gorman “the Look” blog

 

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Visual history

During its short life, the Electric Colour Company undertook many and varied commissions.

The first of these was the Mr. Freedom shop at 430, Kings Rd, London, which was owned by Tommy Roberts and Trevor Miles. With a minimal brief they designed and installed the shop environment which, within a relatively short time, became a fashion icon.

When Tommy Roberts wanted to move the business to larger premises with different partners, the premises were left to Trevor Miles and after he asked the ECC to create this new shop and it then opened as ”Paradise Garage”. Trevor was given a Ford Mustang by Tommy Roberts as part of the agreement which was transformed into a flocked (hairy) tiger by ECC to complement the shop’s decor – possibly the only flocked car in Europe at that time, certainly the most radical.

Further output from the group included the sign for the facade of Time Out’s offices when they moved to Kings Cross. Another shop Blueberry Hill boutique in the Kings Rd and the first discotheque in Dublin called “Sloopys” followed.

Cast Moulded and pigmented GRP furniture, jewellery and other fashion accessories were also made in the workshop  between more making more public work.

The company were responsible for the customizing of the Piper aircraft which won for Prince William of Gloucester the Italian Grand Prix for design in 1971. Unfortunately Prince William died the following year, when he made an unlucky manoeuvre in the same aircraft.

The company disbanded as a group of 4 in 1972, but Andrew Greaves and Jeffery Pine worked on a further shop for Tommy Roberts in the Seven Dials area of London called “City Lights Studio” 1972-74.

Jeffery Pine continued to design shops.

Their first workshop was in the basement of the house where David Smith lived in Putney. They then moved to Well Street, Hackney the home and studio’s of Rod Stokes and Andrew Greaves. Shortly afterwards, they moved to Phipp Street, EC1, an industrial building in Shoreditch, which gave them enough space to work on a variety of commissions which were being undertaken at this time.

Work from the company appeared in publications including Time Out, Vogue (design for living), Architectural Design, Hot Car, Sunday Times Magazine, LA Times West Magazine.

After the break up of the partnership the members returned to continue with their own artist’s practice which they are still doing today.

exterior of ‘Paradise Garage’ with Trevor Miles’ ‘tiger’ car being given a parking ticket

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Mr Freedom • 430 Kings Road, London 1969 – 70

This was our first project and was owned by Tommy Roberts and Trevor Miles. With a minimal brief, we designed and installed the shop environment. The shop itself, within a relatively short time, became a fashion icon.

the original frontage

original counter

 

back of shop

 

interior towards front[/caption]

 

Jenny Dugan Chapman standing in the doorway with Mr Freedom dress

changing room

second counter 1970

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Paradise Garage 430 Kings Road London • 1971

When Tommy Roberts wanted to move the business to larger premises with different partners, the premises were left to Trevor Miles. He subsequently opened ”Paradise Garage” there, and asked the ECC to create this new shop.
Trevor was given a Ford Mustang by Tommy Roberts as part of the agreement, and it was transformed into a flocked (hairy) tiger by ECC to complement the shop’s decor – possibly the only flocked car in Europe at that time, certainly the most radical.

frontage with Trevor Miles’ flocked Mustang

counter

 

interior 2

interior 3

interior 4 with Andrew Greaves

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Blueberry Hill, Kings Road • 1971

frontage 1

frontage 2

interior 1

interior 2

interior 3 with Roderick Stokes, Carol Davey and David Smith

rooster clothes rack on the pavement outside

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Time Out sign, Grays Inn Road •1971

view 1

view 2

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Falmer Jeans Trade fair

exterior of stand

interior

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Snoopys night club Dublin • 1971

work in progress – interior

powder-room

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Spot 3 restaurant, Fulham Road

exterior 1

exterior 2

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Jewelery and Accessories

Most of these pieces were made in conjunction with Dinah Adams and Irene Smith to supply Mr Freedom and Paradise Garage.

perspex wall plaque

perspex seascape buckle with belt

art deco buckle

jaguar buckle

gull buckle

star necklace

Irene Smith and Dinah Adams with car and their accessories

vacuum formed rocket light 1971

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