The Writers & Spies of London’s Isokon

Picture it – London in the 1930s. A nation between wars. A city living on a razor’s edge. And somewhere between the art deco era and the modernist movement, there was Isokon. The new vision of urban living took architecture and stood it on its head in an area of tony brick townhouses.

Isokon was the dream of noted architect Wells Coates. Some called it a progressive experiment in urban living but the writer in me calls it a beehive of intrigue. Tucked inside the compact little apartments were writers and Bohemian artists, Bauhaus emigres and Russian spies, and celebs of the day. Agatha Christie mingled with her neighbors, spies from another country, fodder for her novels like N & M? I can just picture a true spy film noir come to life and, oh, the plot twists!

Today, tucked inside a posh corner of London’s Hampstead neighborhood, Isokon stands as a tribute to its innovation and storied past. Today, new tenants are weaving their own web of intrigue behind closed doors.

Yet, lurking in the garage lies a gallery of secrets to its past. The Isokon Gallery allows a peek into a different time, a time of compact kitchens and curvilinear chairs, art decadence and getting to know your neighbors, when spying on them took on a classic air of intrigue.

Isokon Gallery, Lawn Road, Hampstead, London.

Getting there: Belsize Park tube stop & then a 5 min. walk or the Hampstead Heath rail station 10 min walk

Open: Saturdays & Sundays, March thru October and admission is free.