The Design Dealer Doing Things Differently

  • TextTed Stansfield

With an exceptional eye and off-kilter taste, Jermaine Oscar Gallacher is one of London’s most intriguing voices in interior design

Hometown: Brighton, England.

Now lives: A Housing Association flat in London Bridge, where he’s been for seven years.

Job: Jermaine Oscar Gallacher is a design dealer, who sells off-kilter pieces of furniture, light fittings and objets d’art via his online shop. Favouring unique and unusual pieces with a modernist or postmodernist feel, Gallacher describes his taste simply as “my own”. “When I go to a market or sale, I worry that somebody else is going to pick up all the good stuff and so I get there at 6.30am,” he says. “But often I find the good stuff just before I leave at 11am because no one sees what I see. Whatever my taste is – and I don’t want to sound big-headed – I don’t think anyone else has got it.” It’s not big-headed, it’s honest – Gallacher picks out pieces that aren’t obvious or ‘in vogue’ (though they are very beautiful and without exception very pleasurable to look at).

Background: Not formally trained in interior design, Gallacher studied drawing at Camberwell College of Arts, where he developed an affinity for the Milan-based postmodernist designer collective known as the Memphis Group. He sold antiques at Spitalfields Market throughout his degree and, after graduating, opened a showroom in a bookshop in Lower Marsh, which had “miserable owners but amazing terrazzo walls”. After that he opened a shop in Soho, followed by one in the East End, before bringing his operations in-house (quite literally) and selling pieces from his London Bridge flat.

Personal space: Gallacher’s flat is full to bursting with beautiful objects: a turquoise retro scooter rests against a wall in one room, a shiny metal armchair (a relatively new acquisition) sits abruptly in another; offbeat lamp bases and artful candlesticks stand erect on a desk alongside unusual bronzes and a papier-mâché panther – all are beautiful in their own right, and work perfectly as a group. “My flat is always changing because things sell, so I live with things for a bit and then they go someplace else. I would never sell anything I couldn’t potentially live with,” he says flatly. “I didn’t have a cooker for a year because I couldn’t find one that I wanted. Eventually my mum found me this really lovely old enameled cooker – because I just really don’t like having things that I don’t like.”

Clients: Selling pieces from his website, Gallacher’s clients are typically creative professionals with a bit of disposable income. “They are people with good taste,” he says wryly. “They’re fun and they’ve got a sense of humour – I think you’ve got to have a sense of humour for some of the things I buy. You’ve got to be adventurous. So they’re adventurous and they have a bit of vision.”

His thoughts on the relationship between interiors and society in 2018:

Gallacher is of the firm conviction that we’re currently experiencing a cultural shift; that we’re discovering or rather rediscovering the joy of interiors. We speculate as to the cause: less affordable places to go out? More exposure to nice interiors through social media? “In the 70s and 80s, people went really mad on interiors,” he says. “They didn’t just have a white room. People are becoming more exposed to design through social media and becoming more confident in their own taste, more willing to explore their own style – especially within the spaces they live. I really hope it’s here to stay because I always want to be surrounded by beautiful things.”

Next thing: In addition to a project that he declines to discuss for this interview (stay tuned…), Gallacher has been busying himself with a variety of things, including designing some pieces for a soon-to-be-opened shop in Lisbon. “I’ve designed a table, some zig-zag rails and these stools that are being made of out metal by this really amazing welder,” he says. “I’ve designed a really beautiful rug too and am going to Morocco in July to oversee the making of it.”

jermainegallacher.com