Designer Ashton Taylor Smith is as well known for his theatrical set designs as for his show homes, and says he will only take on a show-home project if it interests him. Taylor Smith's design approach is dictated by the fact that he is a New Traditionalist, one of a group of artists and designers that takes elements of the past and reinterprets them. The latest show-home project by Taylor Smith is at Octagon's 18 Lansdowne Crescent, in Notting Hill, where the designer's work sits inside a John Pawson building, whose interior has been remodelled by architect Paul Davis and Partners.
"I'm sick of beige and monochrome. I'm a great lover of colour – people get so afraid of it. For Lansdowne Crescent the minimalist interior is quite exacting, so I've deliberately gone to the other end of the spectrum. I'm showing that purchasers needn't be intimidated by the architectural style, so I've introduced old and contemporary styles. I've got a hand gold-leafed, coffered ceiling in the hall – I like having a traditional artisan in the modern setting. I absolutely don't follow fashion. I approach a show-home project like a theatre project – I immerse myself in the period. For my next project, for United House's Modern City Living, I'll be creating a 1960s apartment, and I'm taking the theme to its natural conclusion with personal props, like party invitations, birthday cakes and clothes in the wardrobe.
I like the visual jokes."
Ben de Lisi
Fashion designer Ben de Lisi was first commissioned by Countryside Properties to inject some catwalk styling into its the Edge apartment scheme in Manchester. His contribution to that scheme goes beyond the show home; he has transformed the standard lift car using coloured glass panels, put his designer stamp onto the block's entrance foyer with a series of coloured screens and come up with a dramatic colour scheme for the bathrooms. Since then, de Lisi creations have been cropping up in such unlikely locations as Preston, Didsbury, and Salford Quays, where he is designing for Countryside's Radius, South and NV Buildings schemes respectively. De Lisi is also designing the interior of his own home.
"I'm liking more and more props and interiors that are not so literally modern. I'm very interested in reclaimed architectural salvage – something like an old clock face. They can be quite abstract, but set a tone. They add a touch of glamour – that's been lacking for a long time. It's important now to get that touch of glamour. Everything is cyclical and now we are reaching for a different period, for refined glamour. I'm liking tinted concrete. I'm also liking big, bold stripes which can be very grand and theatrical. For the penthouse at NV Buildings I'm putting the most wonderful, distressed mirrors on a lemon, black and white mural. There will be terracotta urns and a stone dining table – the look will have texture and depth. For the apartments at Countryside's upcoming Fourth Grace in Liverpool we're looking at creating an ornate, three-quarter-height wall between the living area and the kitchen. It will be a sculptural piece. When there's a return to glamour, kitchens need be not seen. It's a new approach to open plan – 'almost open' plan."