Pullman Gallery

‘Octane’, August 2011

‘Hidden away in the South London is a panacea for the automotive collector with taste. Be warned. Sir will want everything’.

Robert Coucher, Octane, August issue 2011.

Since the beginning of time, or since the time of cavemen anyway, men have created areas of personal space; lairs that vary in size and stature from grand libraries in country houses to garages in wealthy enclaves or garden sheds in suburbia. Elvis Presley had his jungle room at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, where he might well have stored the pistol that he famously used to shoot his truculent Pantera when it refused to start. Ernest Hemingway liked to shut himself away in his cave where he wrote at his large table standing up, and Octane has witnessed many motoring-focused ‘man caves’ over the years, from mews houses in London to hangars in Arizona.

More recently, the masculine lair has been eschewed in favour of men being active in the kitchen or nursery, a shift in attitude trumpeted as a great leap forward by some. But this has been turned on its head by the revelation that many Hollywood actors – who are very popular with the opposite sex – enjoy caves. George Clooney has his ‘man castle’, Johnny Depp has a wine-filled Parisian cave, and Brad Pitt uses his cave in Malibu to retreat from Angelina Jolie and her soccer team of children. Pitt’s cave is reputed to house flat-screen televisions, a state-of-the-art sound system, video games, motorcycles, and a ‘kegerator’ in which to chill beer kegs. Hasta la vista, soppy metro man!

While we wouldn’t wish to brand Simon Khachadourian as a caveman (he recently married his gorgeous young bride), he has created a masculine space of breathtaking intensity. Those of you who are aware of the rarefied world of objets de luxe will know of the Pullman Gallery on King Street in St James’s, London, where for many years Khachadourian has purveyed some of the most sought-after collectables, ranging from Lalique mascots to Art Deco bronzes, handcrafted models, Louis Vuitton trunks, crocodile-skin Hermes guncases, original posters, silver cocktail shakers and sterling silver Tiffany cigar boxes, to name a few.

Khachadourian’s store of artwork relates to all forms of powered transport, be it by land, sea or air, as well as related objects that ‘car guys’ with taste appreciate. His gallery in St James’s is filled to the gunwales with these wonderful items and, rather than store the rest in a closed facility, Simon has created the Pullman Studios close to Chelsea Bridge. Octane was invited to an early preview.

Although it’s only a ten-minute drive from smart Sloane Square, the directions send you south to the less salubrious side of London, amid warehouses and tightly packed terraces, tucked behind one row of which is a discreet entrance to a business park – the sort of gritty location used in London-based gangster films. Under the beautifully constructed Victorian railway arches are rows of heavy steel doors that lead to all sorts of workshops, small business depots and goodness knows what else.

Carry on and you’ll find an innocuous but freshly painted pair of dark blue steel doors with no outward signage. The large security lock is open, so heave the hefty door back and… you are assailed with the most improbable sight. It takes a few seconds for your brain to comprehend what you’re actually seeing in this unlikely location.

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