Jim and Chloe Read are founders of Newgate Clocks and the recently launched Newgate Watches brand. Creative director and chief designer, Jim, discusses the inspiration behind their innovative designs and tells The LuxPad his favorite way to waste time…
What did you do before creating Newgate and how did that help you create brand?
We started Newgate when both Chloe and I were very young. I had just been kicked out of art school for ‘not fitting the mould’ and Chloe was part way through a business degree. We were both hugely passionate about wanting to create our own venture. Both sets of our parents were antique dealers, which I think instilled a love of vintage in us both from a very early age. We began sourcing and repurposing vintage prints to start with, then we chanced across a box of old clock markets at an antiques fair and decided we would use them to design our own quirky, vintage clocks. Chloe convinced me to sell my first car to fund our first trade show – everyone thought we were crazy! – but luckily the reaction at that show was incredible. We took orders from stockists and distributors across the world, and ‘Newgate’ had begun.
If you could only have a clock in one room in your home which room would you choose and why?
We actually have wall clocks hung in most of our bathrooms at home and I love the drama they create in there – probably because the rest of the space is quite minimal and pared back. I think it’s a room most people wouldn’t always think to add a clock to, but it’s a great way to add style and create a focal point in what can be one of the less interesting rooms of the house in terms of decor.
What is the secret to combining vintage aesthetic with a modern design across your products?
I’m always hugely inspired by the design of years gone by, I love wandering around some of Britain’s great cities, absorbing the awe inspiring architecture of different time periods, but I’m also hugely inspired by the contemporary buzz of those places, their energy and creative spirit. I suppose it’s the synergy between these two factors that I try to express in Newgate’s designs. Our latest watch collection was particularly inspired by the creative energy of some of our favorite haunts in San Francisco, Paris and New York, but also has quite a mid-century feel in the use of brass and dark colorways. I think as a designer you draw from all the things that have influenced you when you put pencil to paper and start sketching ideas.
In today’s modern world where we no longer really require clocks to tell the time, with smart phones there ready to tell us the time, so why do you think people still long for clocks to adorn their interiors?
A clock isn’t just a time telling device, it’s also a great style statement. Choosing a design that resonates with your interior scheme emphasises the style of that space, whether that’s bold and contemporary, or cool and classical. Hanging a clock is also a great way to create a focal point in a room – aesthetically we find our surroundings more pleasing if there is somewhere for the eye to come to a rest, and a clock provides that full stop for an interior, a place for your gaze to linger. On a practical note hanging a wall clock also adds a sense of height to an interior, bringing balance to a room.
Why do you think watches have always been such a statement of personal style and why are they as popular as ever despite modern technology again rendering them unnecessary?
It’s the same principle of course, a watch today is as much an expression of personal style as it is a time telling device. That’s why it was so important to us to design so many different styles within the Newgate Watch collection, we saw the need for a range of watches to suit an individual’s different looks, styles and moods. We wanted to produce a collection that allowed you to put together your own capsule Newgate watch wardrobe – a different style for each day of the week.
You’ve just found a time machine that can take you to the future or the past, what year do you go to and why?
It would have to be some point in the 1950s. When we were designing our new clock collection I was hugely inspired by that era. We wanted each clock to have a personality, an alter ego, and we imagined these characters to be based upon the names of the kind of gentlemen who would have built the original mid-century clocks in Britain in the 1950s. We could hear them talking to each other in the old factories: “Mr Edwards!” “Yes Mr Clarke?” “Are this week’s clocks ready to be delivered to Harrods?” “Yes Mr Clarke they are leaving this afternoon” “Ah that’s absolutely first class Mr Edwards, thank you.” These had to be formal names – not Derek, or Stanley, but ‘Mr’ Edwards. Quintessentially English surnames that give the clocks the formality they command and deserve, and that feel very ‘mid-century’ – the theme of our new collection.
What is your favorite time of day – and when are you most productive?
My favorite part of any day is when I can find some time to shut myself off from the world and lose myself in the design process. When you run your own business there can be so many demands on your time, but finding some creative isolation is essential for me so I can focus on each product, and each collection as a whole.
What is your favorite way to waste time?
With three kids our days and weekends are pretty busy! But Chloe and I still love having a wander around a vintage antiques market, and the excitement of spotting and taking home some treasures. Our home is quite an eclectic mix of vintage pieces we’ve stumbled across this way, and things we’ve brought back from our travels, juxtaposed with some really contemporary pieces too.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
‘Be prepared to work harder than you ever imagined possible’.
What do you see yourself and your company in five years’ time?
The watch collection is a hugely exciting new part of Newgate. Having been a part of the interiors industry for so many years, it’s really interesting to move into the fashion arena as well. We’ve just launched two new watch collections, and we have more new lines in the pipeline for later this year. The reaction to the watches so far has been fantastic, so we’re really excited to share more designs soon. We always have so many ideas up our sleeves for things to come – watch this space!