As the Manhattan Loft Corporation celebrates 25 years, its founder Harry Handelsman plots elevated living in post-Olympics east London
Loft living once meant colonising an industrial space in a desolate part of town, filling it with statement furniture and learning to love the screech of goods trains as a non-stop backing track. That’s how Harry Handelsman, an unusually high-profile property developer and founder of the Manhattan Loft Corporation, remembers it anyway. Twenty-five years ago, he was living in Bankside, on the wrong side of the Thames, with dodgy pubs and greasy spoons for company. ‘At that time, London was in deep recession. The whole city was up for sale,’ he recalls. Handelsman, then in his early forties, had returned from a stint in Manhattan, where he was working in finance and was starting to dabble in property, ‘but nothing was selling’. In 1992, he had a light-bulb moment. He bought a building in a then similarly desolate Clerkenwell for £435,000 and turned it into the sort of lofts he had seen in New York. Artists, film producers, photographers and pop stars moved in, as Handelsman hoped, and the newly formed Manhattan Loft Corporation (MLC) became synonymous with a cool new way of living.
Since then, the loft proposition has been so exploited that it has come to mean anything from a first-floor shoe-box to a new-build with exposed bricks and no views. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, though, and of his copycats Handelsman says: ‘I’m happy that loft living is more readily available. My prime motivation is always to add things that don’t exist and have others follow my footsteps, as long as they do it with care and attention.’
After creating loft developments all over London, from Chelsea to Canary Wharf, Fitzrovia to Fulham, came Handelsman’s painstaking transformation of the former Midland Grand Hotel, a Gothic Revival landmark, into the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, which opened in 2011. Then in 2014, he collaborated with hotelier André Balazs to create perennial party spot the Chiltern Firehouse. Handelsman has thrown a regenerative lifeline to one overlooked, unloved neighbourhood after another and excitement and attention now follow his every professional move. His current project – the creation of a 42-storey, £300m apartment and hotel complex in Stratford, east London – is his most ambitious yet.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Tadao Ando and François Pinault
K1 arts complex, by Teo Yang and Ourstudio, for Kukje Gallery, Seoul
Elephant World, Thailand, by Bangkok Project Studio
MOKA Garden, South Korea, by Jaime Hayon
JUDGES' AWARDS 2021
Our highest honours span six special categories, adjudicated by this mighty jury. Meet the judges and winners on the following pages, and see full profiles and shortlists on Wallpaper.com
Kakurega Omakase, Mexico
BEST MUSIC VENUE
Floating Music Hub
BEST BURGER BAR
21 Rising Stars For 2021
Our Next Generation showcase shines a light on 21 outstanding graduates from around the globe, Wallpaper’s pick of the best new talent in seven creative fields. See more on all our graduates at Wallpaper.com ∏ #WallpaperNextGeneration
A collaboration with artist Imi Knoebel adds a multi-tonal twist at Akris
Kingpins and wannabes barrel through the London underworld.
Back on the Road
We all know travel can be a pain, but when it hits below the belt you need to know there’s something you can do about it
GET YOUR FRONT ROW SEAT TO VIRTUAL FASHION SHOWS
It’s hard to remember now, but it was during the fall ready-to-wear shows last February that the fashion world first became aware of the coronavirus, even before it had been declared a global pandemic.
AMAZON OPENS FIRST UK CHECKOUT-FREE GROCERY STORE IN LONDON
Amazon has opened a cashier-free supermarket in London, its first bricks and mortar expansion outside the U.S. as the company bets on strong demand for its contactless shops.
Extremely Online and Wildly Out of Control
Patricia Lockwood’s debut novel explores the mind, and heart, of an internet-addled protagonist.
LONDON TEA PARTY
HOW JOE BONAMASSA DECAMPED TO ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS WITH BERNIE MARSDEN AND FORMER CREAM LYRICIST PETE BROWN TO WRITE AND RECORD ROYAL TEA, AN ALBUM THAT’S BURSTING WITH THAT BRITISH BLUES BOOM
UBER GETS 18-MONTH LONDON LICENSE AFTER WINNING COURT APPEAL
Uber can keep operating in London for another year and a half after winning its appeal of a decision by the British capital’s transit regulator not to renew its license.
DEPP'S NEW FLICK ANOTHER DUD!
He’s no longer a sure thing at the box office, sources dished
GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY GOODNESS
The Lake Havasu Gem & Mineral Society (LHGMS) is one of those fortunate clubs across the country that recently passed the 50-year threshold of servicing its local rockhounding, lapidary, gem and jewelry-loving community. It takes a lot of dedication and commitment by a lot of members and energetic and visionary leadership over many years, to ensure the continuing success of a gem and mineral society.
Harry& Meghan: AT WAR WITH THE QUEEN
WITH PRINCE HARRY BY HER SIDE, MEGHAN MARKLE GOES PUBLIC WITH HER GRIEVANCES AGAINST THE WINDSORS, SETTING THE STAGE FOR A BATTLE ROYAL.