December 2, 2021

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Interior designer Hollie Bowden: ‘Aesthetically, there’s nothing we would rule out’

7 min read

“Creating interiors is endlessly enjoyable,” states British designer Hollie Bowden. In considerably less than a 10 years, her London studio has orchestrated a sweep of tasks — 30 due to the fact she started in 2013 — whose scale and worldwide scope belies its fledgling several years.

From the eclectic east London residence of musician FKA twigs to a tranquil Scottish farmhouse on the Isle of Bute and the forensically crafted Cadogan Place retail outlet of heritage leather-based merchandise brand name Tanner Krolle, Bowden’s eye for offsetting theatrical objets d’art and 20th-century design from a pared-back again canvas of organic products has gained her a term-of-mouth popularity as a purveyor of wabi-sabi — the Japanese aesthetic that finds attractiveness in imperfection — serenity.

But Bowden, 37, bristles towards the recommendation she has a signature fashion. “Some men and women phone me a minimalist,” she claims. “But I’m definitely not. In the stop, it will come down to getting the most intriguing and inventive locations, and unearthing the tales powering them.” Describing her neutral-toned but artwork-crammed interiors as “maxi-minimalist”, Bowden hopes her hottest function will herald a looser, far more progressive period for the studio. “We want to carry some color and enjoyment,” she states. “Aesthetically, there’s seriously practically nothing we would rule out.”

At the forefront of this new eyesight is an unusual Modernist house in a conservation space of north London acknowledged as Aberdeen Park. “The property itself is bonkers,” she states of the function-in-progress. “There’s this very reserved 1930s facade with a wilder, a lot more up to date interior renovation that transpired in the early 2000s.”

The house conjures up comparisons with Hampstead’s 2 Willow Road, constructed in 1939, the development and former property of Ernö Goldfinger, the Budapest-born architect and furnishings designer driving Trellick Tower. Bowden’s response is an unrestrained plan showcasing mustard and environmentally friendly glazed mottled tiles, and furnishings that include a pair of purple woven horsehair and glass bedside tables of her own layout. The centrepiece, however, promises to be the open up-tread stairwell, which she is encasing in a verdant cloud of deep-pile carpet. Element ethereal, part psychedelic, wabi-sabi it surely isn’t.

A transformed farmhouse in Scotland embellished with a spare, neutral experience © Genevieve Lutkin
A country estate in San Carlos, Ibiza, blends the bygone with the contemporary
A nation estate in San Carlos, Ibiza, blends the bygone with the modern day

The restoration of Bowden’s have 5-bedroom relatives household in Finsbury Park in the same way indulges her wilder facet. “The household has become a bit of a laboratory for ideas I have been imagining about for a long time,” she claims.

Bowden is developing the interior with architect Jonathan Stickland and her associate and recurrent collaborator Byron Pritchard, the imaginative and maker behind the household furniture workshop 1982. Their plans incorporate a series of surrealistic murals encouraged by the Texan artist Gertrude Abercrombie to decorate the nursery walls of Bowden and Pritchard’s calendar year-previous twins, Stella and Nova.

Bowden is also transforming a single of the bedrooms into a dressing place to retail outlet a vintage vogue archive that spans 1930s tea dresses, antique kimonos and designers like Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier and Issey Miyake.

It’s a globe away from Bowden’s rural roots. She grew up in a tiny 16th-century cottage in a remote corner of Gloucestershire, exactly where she was immersed in aggressive showjumping. “We were being critically horsey,” she states. “I was riding right before I could walk.”

Bowden’s parents renovated properties for a living. “Our houses had been consistently shifting,” she states. “Mum was constantly tinkering with the upholstery or the window therapies.” Her interest in interiors started when she purchased her possess location at 18, transforming a one particular-bed room flat in an old converted cinema into a 1970s-model jewel-box full with mirrors, a dancing pole and a dressing room.

“I absolutely liked the procedure,” she suggests. “It was this kind of fun reinventing the room, considering about how it would do the job for my daily life — and sorting out the circulation.” Soon after shopping for and providing one more flat, Bowden did a 12 months-prolonged program at London’s KLC Faculty of Style.

Her occupation officially commenced in Ibiza. In 2013, even though paying summer season on the island, Bowden bagged her initially customer. “He really purchased into me and my
personalized fashion. He actually just handed me the keys,” she states of the second she was presented carte blanche on the 13,000 sq ft space in the secluded south-west village of Es Cubells, entire with 7 bedrooms, a spa and focused staff quarters.

By the time Bowden experienced concluded the task, the hellish 1980s inside of pink marble and mahogany had been transformed with enormous home windows and uncooked plaster walls forming a backdrop to tactile components this sort of as hemp and linen, all set towards tough-hewn sculpture and folk artwork.

An apartment in Ladbroke Grove, London
An apartment in Ladbroke Grove, west London © Genevieve Lutkin

The challenge received Bowden further commissions on and off the island, acting as a springboard for assembling her now eight-potent crew. She is now doing the job on households in Tel Aviv, Miami and London, as nicely as a 14-bedroom finca in an Ibizan forest that will include things like a specially commissioned patinated bronze folding door by the French-Swedish artist Ingrid Donat.

Unsurprisingly, recreating the undone Ibiza appear back again in London — as she’s typically asked to do — has different outcomes. While the plaster finishes, linen textiles and hemp carpets do translate, Bowden tends to offset them with more durable finishes these kinds of as marble and metal.

“It’s not just about the weather, the light or the architecture, there’s just these types of a different design of residing in London,” she states. “We want to mirror that — an Ibizan finca is worlds away from a Victorian London town home.”

What each and every of Bowden’s interiors shares is her unique stability concerning elegance and eccentricity. Her eye for sourcing objects has become the centre of her studio’s function, no matter if that’s repurposing a established of outdoor Russell Woodard wicker seats picked up at a Paris flea industry as dining chairs in her cousin’s Notting Hill home, or delivery an 18th-century oak ground from a Belgian castle to lend the suitable patina to a Victorian property in Tottenham. “We want our interiors to search unique and nicely travelled,” says Bowden. “Nothing should be way too flashy or higher end.” 

French hand-painted folding screen, 1990s
In the Shoreditch room Bowden designs to convert into a by-appointment gallery: a French hand-painted folding screen . . .
Brutalist dining table with scored coconut table top and rebar frame
. . . and a Brutalist eating desk with scored coconut table major and rebar frame © Maureen M Evans

In the new yr, Bowden options to open a by-appointment gallery in a cavernous space adjoining her Shoreditch studio. Already filled with antiques, outsider art and bric-a-brac, as properly as structure — these kinds of as Ron Arad’s Rover chair and leather loungers by Vittorio Introini for Saporiti — it is a trove of suggestions and inspiration for her adventurous clients.

“The bones of my interiors are usually really basic, but these objects are a possibility to convey some personality and an aspect of the unanticipated,” suggests Bowden. Major-ticket patterns are punctuated by quirkier marketplace finds. A row of cabinets is decked with ephemera: Egyptian plates, wiggly candlesticks, terrazzo vases and kitsch animal figurines.

Found en masse, there’s joy in the sheer eclecticism of these objects and curios, which frequently harness a extensive-lasting connection amongst Bowden and her clientele. Although she completed the London household of FKA twigs four yrs back, she however stores for her home, recently acquiring a green onyx coffee table that is ideal for her previous college friend’s inside. “My WhatsApp chats with purchasers can go on for many years,” she states.

Not that it is generally really so very simple. Specified items in the gallery — such as a painterly monochrome space divider by an unidentified Paris artist — will be harder to aspect with. Bowden may be greater at sourcing than marketing. “It’s hard to imagine waving it off to a complete stranger,” she states. “You want to maintain on to it until eventually there is a project that will give it a appropriate instant of glory.” Though finders cannot constantly be keepers.

Hollie Bowden’s showroom edit

The calla lilies

Have you at any time witnessed a far more interesting plant container? All around 60cm every, these fibreglass flowers lend a place a truly surrealistic feel. I purchased them close to a ten years back we believe they are a set prop from the 1980s. They’re a form of jardiniere that functions with or without having a plant.


The hurry chair

All my greatest-liked items are likely to have a sculptural sense and its astounding to
see this realised in purely natural materials such as this woven rush. I found it in a Gloucestershire store. It has a notably lovely curved shape that mirrors the human form.


The animal lamp

I picked up this 1960s lamp in London for my twin daughters’ bedroom just before they have been even born. It is an enamel on copper lamp, cold-painted with all these splendidly naive animal drawings. It ended up in the children’s bedroom of a shopper in north London.


The recliner

This 1970s chair is considered to have been designed by Italian architect and designer Vittorio Introini for Saporiti. Leather-based with a nickel-plated steel frame, it is the most comfy examining chair I have observed, as you are absolutely reclined yet supported.


The Hollie Bowden bedside

Bedsides are normally a nightmare. It’s so really hard to find a little something basic and useful. I built these with my companion Byron Pritchard. Designed from solid walnut board, they give a minimal dice type an fascinating twist.


The place divider

I bought this painted monitor from the Marché aux Puces in Paris. I like to go close to four occasions a year. Looking at it was these types of a wow minute. Screens are so helpful for dividing significant spaces or hiding matters. As well as it’s a good backdrop on Zoom.

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