The East Finchley car showroom adding an unexpected new product to the range
11:35 02 December 2016
Meet Hexagon Classics, the husband and wife team hoping to create a design destination in the hinterland between their home in Highgate, Bishops Avenue and East Finchley.
What do you get when you combine a classic car specialist and a pot dealer? No, this is not a bad gag about slow motion car crashes.
Instead interior designer and gallerist Racheline Michaels and her husband, Paul, a classic car dealer and former Formula One team owner, have joined forces on the site of the classic car showroom on Great North Road.
As unlikely as it may seem, once visitors walk across the forecourt lined with covetable little roadsters, and in through the front door of the vast car dealership, they’re greeted by the sight of Racheline’s carefully curated modern furniture and ceramics gallery and shop.
“One of us is car mad, the other is pot mad,” laughs Racheline. “I’m known as a potaholic. Classic design, whether it’s cars or furniture, should be about people loving what they own and choosing longevity and quality over quantity and quick fixes.”
A north Londoner through and through, Paul’s passion for the world’s finest cars started in a garage in Daleham Mews in Belsize Park in the area’s glamorous ‘60s heyday. He moved on to North Hill in Highgate in 1966 and bought the current premises 20 years ago.
Hexagon ventured into the glamorous world of racing and even fielded a Formula One team in 1973/74.
During this period, the company was also amassing an art collection to display on the premises, with a collection that includes such highly appropriate gems as a series of Richard Hamilton tyre canvases, bought by Paul in the 1970s.
“We’ve been into iconic art and furniture for a long time. We’ve had Matthew Hilton chairs and Miro rugs for decades,” he says.
Meanwhile, since the 1980s Racheline was running a successful interior design business from the couple’s Highgate home, adding her stylish touch to properties throughout north London.
Five years ago, she opened a ceramics gallery in a studio built in the back garden, which enabled to do more of what she loved, commissioning ceramic artists to create large-scale work, which they would be unlikely to be able to afford without her backing. The garden is still filled with large contemporary sculptures, a testament to that time.
When the space at Paul’s showroom became available the couple decided to join forces and combine their efforts in one location.
“It’s a pretty unique concept,” says Racheline. “We want people to pass by and pop in for a look at the cars and furniture, not necessarily with the idea of buying.”
What the two ventures have in common is the intention that buyers – or visiting browsers – love and appreciate them as something to hold onto for life.
“Classic cars become part of the family. All the people we sell classic cars to have either aspired to them forever or they want something they can love,” says Paul.
“All our kids had a classic car when they were 17 because they’re safer. I bought my son an old Volvo because I know he’d have an accident and when he did hit a transit van he came off much better than he would have done in a small new car.”
While the impressive range of vintage Porsches, Ferraris and other quality marques are a draw for car fanatics, the prestigious pieces by Knoll, Carl Hansen and ceramicists including David Roberts, Ashraf Hanna and Nicholas Lees offer the ideal counterpoint for those who are more lukewarm about motors.
Serious interiors buyers are sure to add the venue to their little black books as a destination for rare or specially commissioned ceramics and sculpture, including large-scale 100-piece works by Yuta Segawa and 2.5 metre-tall ceramic trees by Fausto Salvi.
The space should prove equally popular with those accompanying a car fanatic on a browse or the casual passerby, who can pick up attractive homewares for as little as £20 – from wooden chopping boards to sets of nesting bowls by Daniel Smith.
The Michaels’s plans for the future are even more ambitious, with the ultimate goal being a leisure hub offering restaurants and a coffee bar alongside the car showroom, interiors shop and gallery and a book collection on a stretch of road not currently considered much of a lifestyle destination, despite its proximity to so many popular neighbourhoods.
“It’s walking distance from East Finchley, and we’ve even had people visiting us as part of a walk on the Heath and Kenwood,” points out Racheline.
For anyone who’s ever bemoaned the lack of things to do around the Bishops Avenue, the evolving site is a must visit.
Hexagon is hosting a Christmas open day on Saturday, December 3 from 10am to 3pm. Coffee served. Children welcome.