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Bathtime for Barking: new east London pop-up spa

Posted at 4:15 pm, June 24, 2012 in Fun London

CucumbersAndrew Merritt and Paul Smyth of design team Something & Son have a penchant for unorthodox pop-ups. Lisa Paul talks to the duo about their new project, an east London spa.

Why a spa?
‘You go to places like Japan, Sweden or Turkey and their cultures incorporate spa relaxation into everyday life. It used to be like that in this country, too, with the culture of bathhouses. Nowadays, spas have become intertwined with beauty. We want to open a discussion about what it means to relax and to be happy in the city.’

What’s it going to be like?
‘We’re taking a big patch of grass in Barking where a pub was knocked down, and making a spa with a capacity of more than a hundred. We were inspired by the beach huts in Essex and Kent– so it’s a little village of buildings made from stained black timber that harks back to the industrial era.There’ll be saunas, but no communal pools. Once the project moves on, the buildings can be relocated. We love the idea of them being scattered around gardens and allotments in London.’

Any quirky touches?
‘Absolutely. There will be a bar with cucumbers planted on the ceiling so they just hang overhead in mid-air. People will reach up for a fresh cucumber which will be used in the beauty treatments. Plus there’s the ice pillar.’

Ice pillar?
‘It’s part of our ice room, which we’re tiling like a conventional bathroom, except that the tiles will be made from ice. And above there will be a display which looks like the Northern Lights. We want it to be an exciting, different experience that’s affordable.’

How affordable?
‘The price will hopefully be £8 per day. But it’ll be the same quality as a central London spa. We’re keen for people – particularly locals – to drop in during lunchbreaks and we’ll also have family days.’

For more info, see createlondon.org.

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