I wanted to try something new, so I created this interview series dubbed “How you living?!” that will feature glimpses of city living through the lens of some friends of mine. Hopefully 10 to 13 questions are enough. This week, London’s calling (#TheClash) with exceptional museums and art galleries!! Enjoy the interview and leave a comment using your Facebook or Twitter account!
Interviewee: Brendan Cormier
Location: London, England
Phil Rodriques (PR): Where are you originally from?
Brendan Cormier (BC): I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada.
PR: Why did you move to London?
BC: I was living in the Netherlands at the time editing a magazine [Volume] about architecture and urbanism. But I was looking for more opportunities to curate exhibitions, because I think they can speak to a broader public. I applied for a job at the Victoria and Albert Museum as a curator, and I got it. The fact that it was in London was a bonus.
PR: What’s the best part about living in London?
BC: For me, it’s about access to so many good people, interesting design practices, great museums, and excellent schools. If you’re doing anything related to design it’s a great place to be.
PR: What’s the worst thing about living in London?
BC: The Rent. Is. Too. Damn. High.
PR: You’re an urban designer. What are your favourite streetscape features throughout London?
BC: I’m a big fan of the post-war housing estates that were produced in London. The Barbican is an obvious one, and it’s truly incredible, but they exist throughout the city, and it’s a delight to explore them all. They aren’t streetscapes in the traditional sense, but the interior layouts of the estates behave like streets, or sometimes even streets in the sky.
PR: These days, you’re a lead curator of 20th and 21st century design working in London that’s steeped in the arts. What are some of the best museums and art galleries you’ve visited?
BC: There are too many to count. When I first moved here, I had the ambition of visiting every one, and would do one per weekend, but I haven’t even scratched the surface. The big ones are excellent like the Tate Modern, the British Museum and of course, the Victoria and Albert Museum. But there are smaller ones with really unusual collections that are worth your while. The Soane Museum is one man’s personal collection all stuffed into one house. The Wellcome Collection is a great source of medical oddities.
PR: What parts of London would you say have the best places to eat?
BC: You can eat well in almost any neighborhood in London. That said, you can find terrible food in any neighbourhood in London as well. So you need to do your research.
PR: Where are the best places to go for the nightlife experience?
BC: Catching a show at Soho Theatre on the weekend will put you in the center of the city with tonnes of people around, and you’ll get a bit of culture while you’re at it.
PR: Where’s your favourite part of the city?
BC: My new neighbourhood, Highbury, which is quiet and boring, which are rare commodities in London.
PR: How do you get around the city on a daily basis?
BC: I started by taking subways everywhere. But now I try to take the bus as often as possible. If you only take the Tube, you never really see the city or learn its geography. But if you sit on the top of a double-decker bus, you get the sights and you also start to connect the dots between places.
PR: What’s the most horrific thing you’ve seen since living there?
BC: Brixton Station at rush hour when an escalator is out of order. It is a mass mob of people slowly shuffling in to catch a train.
PR: Tell us one stereotypical thing about Londoners that’s true.
BC: They drink a lot.
PR: What’s the one thing every visitor must do before leaving London?
BC: Go to the British Museum. It really has some of the greatest treasures of humanity all assembled under one roof.