London’s design community comes together to furnish new LGBTQ+ Community Centre

Graham Robson February 2, 2022

In December last year, the long-awaited London LGBTQ+ Community Centre opened the doors to its pop-up premises, a stone’s throw from Tate Modern beside Blackfriars Station – the six-month pilot for what will hopefully become a permanent project. As a result of an initiative coordinated by communications agency Zetteler, the centre has been sustainably furnished using items donated by some of the most respected names in the capital’s design community.

Photography by Martha Rawlinson, courtesy of London LGBTQ+ Community Centre

First conceived of in 2017, the centre is intended to provide London’s LGBTQ+ community with a safe, sober, intergenerational and intersectional social space to relax, build networks, and access essential services. Its space, a former retail unit on Hopton Street, Southwark, was empathetically designed to meet the specific needs of the community by queer architect Martha Rawlinson and fitted out by an all-LGBTQ+ building crew. As well as requiring that the centre should offer its users a welcoming, stylish environment, the project team were determined that its development should be as sustainable and environmentally considerate as possible, and were therefore keen that no items of furniture should be bought new.

Sarah Moore, Volunteer Director of London LGBTQ+ Community Centre, said: “It was incredibly important to us to strike the right balance between simplicity, functionality and aesthetics. We wanted the space to be bright but homely, welcoming and not intimidating or overwhelming, but we also wanted to have as little impact on the planet as possible.

Photography by Martha Rawlinson, courtesy of London LGBTQ+ Community Centre

“We set out to repurpose pre-loved items as much as we possibly could, and in fact, almost everything in the Centre has been donated and is second-hand or pre-loved. We wrote a sustainability statement along with our furniture call-out that we gave to the brilliant folks at Zetteler, and their roster of clients and contacts helped us source the most amazing items.”

Supportive of the project, Zetteler realised that, as a communications agency specialising in the design sector, it was uniquely placed to access to some of the most well-respected design brands and studios, so reached out to its network to see whether anyone would be happy to show their support for the centre and donate furniture.

Photography by Martha Rawlinson, courtesy of London LGBTQ+ Community Centre

Sabine Zetteler, founder and director of Zetteler, said: “Thanks to 10 years entrenched in London’s design sector, we were well placed to find a solution to the centre’s need for functional, welcoming, and beautiful design pieces sourced from the people we know so well. It was heartwarming to see the offers flood in. We’re really proud of everyone for making this happen.”

The response to the call-out was immediate and overwhelming, with more than a dozen leading design studios and design brands coming forward to provide items, including: Floor Story, Petite Friture, and twentytwentyone.

Comprising a café, lounge area and meeting space, London LGBTQ+ Community Centre is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, and for private bookings by groups on Monday and Tuesday. Since opening, the centre has worked with a number of charities, community groups and organisations to deliver LGBTQ+-specific services including sexual health testing, mental health support and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Photography by Martha Rawlinson, courtesy of London LGBTQ+ Community Centre

It also hosts an events programme of workshops, panel talks, book & film clubs, meet-ups, yoga, meditation and more – including, in December, a free Christmas dinner for 70 LGBTQ+ elders and homeless people. Every day, people come to relax, seek advice, access resources, make new connections and new friends.

Sarah added: “The design community coming together to support our project means the absolute world. There’s no way the Centre would be what it is without their support. We’re so grateful.”

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Photography by Martha Rawlinson, courtesy of London LGBTQ+ Community Centre