Nigel Coates (architect)
Nigel Coates (born 2 March 1949) is an English architect, author, and prolific designer of interiors, exhibitions, products, and lighting. He grew up in the town of Malvern, Worcestershire and was educated at Hanley Castle Grammar School before studying at the University of Nottingham (1968–71) and the Architectural Association (1972-4). He formed Branson Coates Architecture with Doug Branson in 1985-2006. He established his own studio of architecture and design in 2006. As Professor Emeritus he continues to engage with the London School of Architecture and Ravensbourne University.
He first attracted the attention of the international architecture world in 1984 with the publication of NATO (Narrative Architecture Today) magazine, which featured his exuberant drawing style and his narrative ideas about architecture. The first built commissions came from Japan, followed by many projects in the UK. With his ongoing project Ecstacity (beginning in 1992 with a seminal exhibition at the Architectural Association in London), he has dedicated much of his drawing, thinking and writing to the nature of cities - from the points of view of their organic functionalism, their ability to mutate, and how their design can fulfil their inhabitants.
His built projects include Caffè Bongo (1986), Noah’s Ark (1988), the Wall (1990) and the Art Silo (1992), all in Japan, and in Britain, the Geffrye Museum extension, Oyster House (both 1998), and the National Centre for Popular Music (now the Sheffield Hallam Hubs music venue) in Sheffield (1999). As designer and curator of Powerhouse::uk (1998), an inflatable structure improbably located on Horse Guards, he is associated with the flowering of the arts in late nineties Britain dubbed by Vanity Fair as Cool Britannia.
Interiors and exhibitions
He has also been responsible for many well known, narrative-based, interior and exhibition designs in the UK and Europe, including shops for fashion designer Katharine Hamnett, the Living Bridges exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts (1996), the British Pavilion at Expo '98 in Lisbon, the Body Zone at London's Millennium Dome, the Jigsaw flagship store on Knightsbridge, Ecstacity in the British Pavilion at the 2000 Venice Architecture Biennale, Mixtacity at Tate Modern in 2007, his Hypnerotosphere installation at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale (a collaboration with film maker John Maybury) and the 2009 refurbishment of Middle and Over Wallop restaurants at Glyndebourne Opera House. Recent work includes the installation 'Picaresque', part of the 2012 exhibition Kama: Sesso e Design at the Triennale di Milano.
Architect as designer
Coates’ best known product designs include furniture for Fratelli Boffi, Gebrüder Thonet Vienna, Poltronova, Hitch Mylius and Varaschin, glass and tableware for Alessi, Salviati, Fornasetti, Dartington Crystal and Nude Glass, and lighting for AV Mazzega and Slamp for whom he was art director from 2007 to 2014. In 2017 he launched Nigel Coates Eyewear. For limited edition pieces he is represented by Secondome Gallery in Rome. Items of his work are displayed in museums including the Victoria & Albert Museum and FRAC including drawings of noteworthy projects such as the House for Derek Jarman and the Tokyo Wall. His design work has been compared with that of Tom Dixon and Ron Arad. He is director of Nigel Coates studio and showroom, based in South Kensington.
Coates has been a dedicated teacher of architecture with many of his former students achieving prominence in the profession including Amanda Levete, Robert Mull, Peter Thomas, Rosie Head, Will Hunter, Oliver Wainwright and Finn Williams. He was Unit Master at the Architectural Association from 1978 to 1988. From 1995 to 2011 he was Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at the Royal College of Art and in 2011 was made Emeritus Professor. In 2012 Nigel Coates was awarded the RIBA Annie Spink Award in recognition of an outstanding contribution to architectural education. He is Chair of the Academic Court at the newly formed London School of Architecture.
- Nigel Coates, Narrative Break Up, ed. Nigel Coates and Bernard Tschumi, The Discourse of Events, AA Publications, 1983
- Nigel Coates ed., NATØ magazines Nos. 1 Albion, 1983; 2 Apprentice, 1984; 3 Gamma City, 1985, all AA Publications
- Nigel Coates, Street Signs, ed. John Thackara, Design After Modernism, Thames & Hudson, 1988
- Rick Poynor, Nigel Coates: The City in Motion, Fourth Estate, 1989
- Metropolis, Linda Brown and Deyan Sudjic, ICA 1988
- Nigel Coates, Ecstacity, AA Publications, 1992
- Jonathan Glancey, Body Buildings and City Scapes, Thames & Hudson, 1999
- Nigel Coates, Guide to Ecstacity, Laurence King, 2003
- Nigel Coates, Collidoscope, Laurence King 2004
- Alessandra Orlandi, Interview with Nigel Coates, The Plan 006, 2004
- Jenny Dalton, Coates of many Colours, How To Spend It, Financial Times, April 2009
- Aaron Betsky, Out There: Architecture Beyond Buildings, La Biennale di Venezia, 2008
- Guido Incerti, Interview with Nigel Coates, Klat magazine 05, Spring 2011
- Nigel Coates, Narrative Architecture, Wiley, 2012
- Kama: Sesso e Design, catalogue ed. Silvana Annicchiarico, Triennale Design Museum, 2012
- Marjanović and Howard, Drawing Ambience, RISD 2015
- Claire Jamieson: NATØ: Narrative Architecture in Postmodern London, Routledge, 2017