Gentle Machines (SS20 Volume 1)

Gentle Machines (SS20 Volume 1)

by Saeed Al-Rubeyi

Located just outside of a small coastal town, north of London, there is an odd building. It sits at the end of a trail known locally as “C062” (it seems to only appear on pre-1972 maps) and is something of a well-kept secret. The directions are passed strictly by word-of-mouth between ramblers looking for interesting walks across the British Isles. To keep a sweet secret, we won’t be too specific but it's widely believed to have been the first modern ‘hippy’ commune in The West.

The area is largely obscured and overgrown, but if you were to take a birds eye view you’d see spirals of rose bushes that form a kind of maze leading towards a building at the centre. Back on the ground, as you enter you’re greeted with a haiku carved on a large stone:

"Travelling life's miles
may you meet along the way
roses, roses, smiles."

The Victorian building itself might have been anything when it was first built - but we suspect it was some kind of country residence for landed gentry. Inside it’s in beautiful condition, relatively unmarred by weather or time, bare and cool with rows and rows of potted plants that aren’t strictly “legal”, and a framed open notebook that reads:

“Humankind surrounded themselves with machines of their own handiwork. Great hulking, whirring, poisoning, loud, vibrating, muttering monsters, that do everything badly and make a mess of the place.
Nature makes machines of its own, you know. Gentle machines. Green machines that turn sun into nourishment. Little soft spores that make medicine. Cold, silent beings that clean. Machines that heal.”

Outside surrounding the “big house” are small, hobbit-like homes made from branches trained around brick and pole. Despite their apparent age, they’re still very much liveable, and often play host to adventurous walkers planning an overnight stay. From what we understand there are no rules or reservations - but if you do stay you’re expected to bring along something for the daily breakfast picnic (we took along homemade bramble and apple jam).

The collection below was inspired by this secret space, in a secret place, with some choice plants that we’ve never tried before. We don’t know what happened to the people that lived here, no one really ever asks and it’s not our place to disturb the mystery - but it’s inspirational nonetheless.

Models: Adam Hicks, Emilio Brown-Quiroz and Lola Gentry
Styling and Casting: Dan Pacitti
Photographer: Max Miechowski (@maxmiechowski)