As part of the New Windows on Willesden Green project, where designers are paired with local shops in an attempt to help revive the area, Robin Howie designed a series of Thinker Stools for the London suburb’s Food for Thought cafe…
Making reference to the cafe’s name – and to Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker – Howie selected a series of quotes to be laser-etched (by Nirvana CPH) onto the Tom Dixon-designed stools, featuring pearls of wisdom from the Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein and Miss Piggy.
Howie was commissioned for The Architecture Foundation as part of the Willesden Windows initiative which has brought 25 shopkeeper/designer partnerships to the Willesden Green area in Brent, London. The project is funded by the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund and Brent Council.
“The Architecture Foundation paired me with a cafe called Food for Thought to see what could be done with a small budget,” says Howie.
“I worked to create a more engaging window display and more flexible seating plan for the cafe. Taking inspiration from their name I designed the bespoke Thinker Stools and a window display that acts as a community engagement board featuring revolving questions each month that customers can ponder over and share their responses to as part of the display.
“The nice surprise for me was how receptive and open Mauro and Lu from Food for Thought were to everything,” he says. “When I first presented to them it seemed to remind them of all the things they wanted to do with the cafe when starting out, which was really lovely to see.”
“The cafe has this nice quiet environment where you can get a bit lost in your thoughts,” says Howie. “I thought it would be great to accentuate this and provide a bit of a catalyst. The quotes are a mix, sourced by myself, Mauro and Lu.”
Mauro, one of the Food for Thought cafe’s owners, adopts the Rodin position