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Hiding behind a Victorian facade in London, Squat London is the fifth iteration of a traveling design-and-art project conceived in 2012 that has taken place in Paris (twice), Beirut, and Milan.
The first floor apartment has been temporarily taken over by Milan-based gallerist Nina Yashar of Nilufar Galleryfame, London-based interior designer Shalini Misra, and art collector/gallerist Mehves Ariburnu. Unlike its predecessors, which took place in both apartments and gallery spaces, the London incarnation is the first to happen in an entire home. “It’s the first time we’re doing it with proper beds,” Yashar says.
Yashar, whose Milan gallery is so revered in design circles that she’s considered a tried-and-true tastemaker alongside the likes of Rossana Orlandi, usually displays her wares in her three-story gallery in central Milan and dramatic, balconied former factory in the suburbs. She relishes the refreshing opportunity the pop-up provides: “This is the ideal way of showing my collection,” she says. “In a gallery, combining pieces like this would just look strange.”.
Snapped up by Misra and her business partner Ekta Varma in the autumn of 2015, the central London property used for Squat #4 had been barely used for almost four decades and was in need of major TLC. The pair immediately recognized its potential. “It’s unusual for a period home in the center of London,” explains Varma, “because it has windows everywhere and there is natural light coming in from all sides.”
Wandering about the home is a tactile, intimate, and rewarding experience, but it is also undeniably a commercial exercise for Yashar, Misra, and Ariburnu.