Founder of the radical NATO (Narrative Architecture Today, established in London in 1983) design group and partner in the Branson Coates architecture and design studio (established in 1985), Coates was instrumental in contributing an outlook that combined a keen understanding of the visual vocabulary of contemporary street culture with a sophisticated insight into imaginative architectural possibilities. The groups with which he has been professionally associated have impacted on the urban environment with a series of designs for clubs, bars, restaurants, and retail outlets. After studying at Nottingham University (1968–72) and the Architectural Association in London (1972–4) the theoretically informed Coates went on to set up NATO with colleagues and students, followed by the Branson Coates studio. The dramatic changes that had radically undermined the status quo in British design in previous decades, including Pop and Punk, informed an architecural and design outlook which acknowledged the visual richness of street culture and the possibilities offered by avant‐garde developments in the fine arts and new media. The power of drawing and the ability of installations to evoke atmosphere also played an important role in the group's work, leading to such dramatic creations as the Café Bongo in Tokyo in 1986. Branson Coates have also designed a number of striking retail outlets including an interior for Katherine Hamnett's shop in Sloane Street, London, in 1988. The interior walls were enlivened by large fish tanks, complemented by a copy of the Surrealist artist Salvador Dali's celebrated lip sofa and baroque furnishings. Other retail outlet designs included those for Jasper Conran in Tokyo (1989) and a shop for the clothing company Jigsaw in London (1991). Amongst the company's restaurant and bar designs have been the Metropole, Tokyo (1985), the Noah's Ark restaurant, Sapporo, and the Bargo Bar, Glasgow (1996). Furniture ranges named after the cafés designed by Branson Coates were launched, including the Jazz and Metropole in 1987, and the Noah's Ark collection in 1988. The company has also undertaken a number of exhibition designs including the Erotic Design show at the Design Museum, London (1997), the state‐sponsored Powerhouse::uk exhibition promoting contemporary British design in Horseguards Parade, London, and The Body Zone in the Millennium Dome, Greenwich (2000). Other notable commissions have included the striking stainless steel forms of the National Centre for Popular Music (1999, now closed) in Sheffield and the British Pavilion for Expo '98 in Seville. Coates has played a significant role in architectural design education through teaching at the Architectural Association, London, and the Royal College of Art, where he became Professor of Architecture and Interior Design in the mid‐1990s.
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.