Standing in the middle of an East End pub, its floor painted in the design of a Union Jack, freelancer Bruce French leans against a piano as it plays Roll out the Barrel by itself. The pub is draped with bunting to commemorate the 1977 Silver Jubilee. French points at marks where a football has been kicked against the walls, and also at the pub tables, each painted by a narrow-boat artist with a different punk or soul lyric taken from 30 songs over the last 25 years.
For the last eight years, the 40-year-old theatre designer has been commissioned by the British Phonographic Industry and agency MJK Productions to create environments for the official aftershow party at the annual Brit Awards at Earls Court. He has never run short of inspiration. "I have fun with the designs, although it's often soul destroying to have a constant flow of creativity but never the budget I need," says French. "I'm best known for my white room concept from a few years back, with cherry trees and picnic tables. This Silver Jubilee council estate, to celebrate 25 years of the Brits, is my favourite design to date though."
From the pub, revellers were able to explore the rooms of a 70s council flat after this year's awards, before discovering French's allotment.
Real grass and foliage carpeted the space, complete with caravans housing fortune tellers, fairground rides and a battered old Cortina with the front seats turned back to front so that a cartoonist could draw his muses seated in the back.
French says: "I enjoy creating environments for clients who are prepared to be different. I design a lot of stage sets for artistes such as Kylie and Rod Stewart, and I'm currently designing three ballet productions. I've also worked with companies such as Siemens on its phone launches and much of the creative event work carried out by agency Outer Sanctum."
French's curriculum vitae goes on to list a host of celebrities who have commissioned him to turn their creative fantasies into themed realities, but each time an environment is completed he walks away. "I love the transient nature of my job but can't bare to see my work smashed to pieces afterwards," confesses French.
Bruce French In Brief
1979 - His time at art school led to involvement in the acid house scene, designing back-drops for raves and mobile stage sets for emerging bands such as the KLF
1989 - Moved to Ibiza and worked for nightclub Pacha for three years, redesigning the club's interior twice a week
1992 - Enrolled at St Martins college to study theatre design. Graduated with a degree in fine art
1995 - Formed his own design company
1999 - Set out alone as a freelance designer with rolling contracts for agencies MJK Productions and Outer Sanctum.