Are you fed up with high-street newsagents, mass-market bookshops and the (lack of) choice at your local Odeon? Are you in fact a bit of a culture vulture? The Institute of Contemporary Arts in the Mall, just a few minutes walk from Trafalgar Square, might be just up your street.
On entering the ICA, you are greeted with a mini gallery and bookshop displaying limited edition prints, unusual books from indie publishers and an array of arty magazines you won’t find in your local WHS. Beyond the bookshop is a cinema which shows arthouse films and documentaries (link). As you pass by reception, you are taken past a main exhibition area, and through to small area with tables and wifi. Just here there is the Fox Reading Room, which is in fact another exhibition area.
On the day I visited, there was a retrospective exhibition of Jerry Cinamon’s work. Jerry was an influential graphic designer in the 60s and 70s, heading up Penguin’s design department. It’s hard to imagine now how forward-thinking he was in bringing the Swiss style of design to Penguin, as we are so used to this look now.
After the exhibition I headed to the cafe, which is on a mezzanine level with great views over Horseguards Parade and St James’s Park. Sun streams in through the lightwell, and if you look up, you can see the amazing colonnaded Georgian buildings above. There is free wifi, and both the coffee and cakes are good – so worth popping in if you are in the area.
Are there any areas of London you’d like me to write about in my next London Lounge post? If so, do get in touch.