Hilgrove Road


Home and office


Jasper lived at 16A Hilgrove Road from 1983 when he was studying at the Royal College, until December 1989. He lived there with his friend Duncan Ward, a budding photographer. When Jasper went to Berlin for a year in 1983–84, their friend Paul Kasmin took his room.

The flat was on the ground floor. It had two main rooms. Duncan took the bigger bedroom, that faced onto a garden, because he’d found the flat, and mine had the front onto the street. The sitting room was a corridor with a small kitchen and bathroom at the end. In the morning you’d see the cereal boxes moving with mice. We avoided eating in the flat. There were two gas heaters and a paraffin gas heater in the bathroom. It was grotty.

Business cards.

In 1983, he and Duncan held a photography exhibition in the flat, A World Photo Show, in which they showed work and sold prints, alongside Paul Kasmin and a couple of others. Jasper had a stamp of a monkey made for the invitations, which he then used on his business cards and stationery. On occasion he turned the sitting room into his photographic studio, as in the photograph below.

Jasper turned a cupboard off his bedroom/office into a dark room. He used equipment given to him by his brother, who had been a photography enthusiast at some point.

I would get the camera film developed into a contact sheet and negatives, and then project the negatives to make prints in the cupboard. There I had the chemicals. Then I’d dip them in the bath, hang them up. It was fun to spend time making different prints, getting them exactly how I wanted them.

Jasper photographs his Office System in the sitting room in 1985, lit by his Laboratory Lights. Photograph by Duncan Ward.

In the mid 1980s the flat acted as Jasper’s office as well as his living quarters. When he moved in with his girlfriend, the flat became just his office. But he kept one of his chaise there for the occasions when he stayed overnight unexpectedly.

Rick Poynor interviewed Jasper at Hilgrove Road in December 1987 and described it as a ‘basement studio in a run-down house in Swiss Cottage’ with ‘debris on the floor’. Poynor’s interview was published in Designers’ Journal in February 1988. The portrait of the studio (below) was by Patrick Shanahan, who was busy doing advertising and editorial work in this period, particularly in design and architecture. The picture shows a Thinking Man’s Chair, half of the Office System, the collage for Reuters News Centre, a light with a terrazzo base (that never got named), a Rug of Many Bosoms and a Rise Table. The walls show a couple of the images that were used in A World Slide Show (the progenitor of A World Without Words), which was compiled right at this time.

The Wingnut Chair on the cover of Designers’ Journal, in which Rick Poynor’s interview was published alongside Patrick Shanahan’s photograph.

Jasper’s bedroom-then-office in January 1988, photographed by Patrick Shanahan.