Goldfinger Factory may be named after a James Bond villain but it is way more productive: The project is reviving a local community through sustainable design, including exclusive pieces by Tom Dixon.
London’s Trellick Tower is paean to brutalist architecture, rising boldly into the grey sky. But nestled on its ground floor is a much kinder-looking space. Goldfinger Factory is an award-winning enterprise dedicated to creating upcycled and restored furniture, opening its doors to the community with a suite of workshops, a thriving café and a showroom to display its very best pieces.
“We’re a purpose-driven organization,” says Goldfinger Factory founder Oliver Waddington-Ball, gazing up at the building above. “We want to stop things ending up in landfill, provide skills and training, and build beautiful things.”
Oliver and his partner Marie Cudennec launched Goldfinger two years ago with the vision to turn waste into gold. The factory’s name was inspired by James Bond’s Goldfinger – the villain with the Midas touch. Trellick Tower itself was designed by the notoriously bad-tempered architect Erno Goldfinger, the real-life inspiration behind James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s character.
A storied space
You can love or hate the building – it undeniably tells a great story. It’s now a Grade-II-listed building but the area at its feet was previously a no-go zone. “People used to cross the road to avoid it,” says Oliver. “The council found it hard to rent the space but since we’ve been here, it’s more of a community-owned space, which is also part of our ‘waste into gold’ ethos.”
In its showroom, Scandi-style sideboards sit next to colorful chests of drawers topped with vintage ceramics and picture frames made from wood offcuts. In the café next door, mothers, children, workers and pensioners congregate at the mismatched tables to eat food cooked by a local chef. Marie recommends the risotto. “Delicious,” she tells the chef, and her customers concur.
While they eat, Oliver heads downstairs to the workshops in the basement, where local artisans have a space to build their creations. Someone hauls an old glass cabinet into the studio and they cluster around, deliberating what they can make out of it.
Exclusive collection by Tom Dixon
“We don’t take commission from sales,” Oliver explains. “All proceeds go directly to the artists. They’re also our first port of call for any sub-contracting work offered to the factory. It all helps them get to a stage where they can go off and start their own thing. We’ve had people go on to higher education and start their own businesses. We’re like an incubator.”
Goldfinger has also attracted the attention of local artists, notably renowned furniture designer Tom Dixon, whose head office is just down the road. Dixon designed a range for Goldfinger called Trellick, which comprises all-black tables, stools and benches. The offcuts were used for frames, planters and other accessories in line with the zero-waste policy.
The range was launched in September 2016 to support Goldfinger’s crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to expand into two new sites. “Coalescing traditional carpentry with cutting-edge fabrication techniques, the range will have both a positive environmental and social impact but equally an exceptional story as each piece will be made by artisans and artisans-in-the-making from our local community,” Dixon’s studio said in a statement.
The crowdfunding campaign was successful. Oliver talks proudly of their latest site, the Future Factory, which is a few minutes’ walk away in Ladbroke Grove. Here, makers can learn about digital fabrication using the studio’s CNC machine, where designs are cut by computer.
Marie comes downstairs with a customer curious to see the workshops for herself. She’s heard about Goldfinger from a local photographer whose helping drum up support for the initiative. Impressed, she examines a corner of the workshop where the word ‘pulchritude’ is painted on a wooden sign.
“It is beautiful, yes,” Marie agrees. “Waste is just a resource in the wrong hands. Waste is an evolving perception.” She nods at Oliver who smiles widely in response.