London-based interior and product design studio Holloway Li are experts in blurring the lines between heritage and contemporary design. Known as much for mixing traditional crafts and digital processes as for their love for colour, suffice it to say that the London apartment of their creative director, Alex Holloway, would serve as an example of the studio’s distinct design practice. Set in a converted Victorian house in North London, the apartment is hands-down a showcase but it’s also an evolving testbed for the studio’s work including their own product ranges. Although it is modest in size, the one-bedroom apartment nevertheless features a treasure trove of innovative design solutions, bespoke elements and fanciful details. “Given the offbeat nature of many of the ideas we present to our clients”, Alex explains, “I felt duty bound to explore some of these ideas with my own place”.
The studio’s unconventional approach can be felt the moment you step inside the property: the staircase that leads from the street entrance up to the first-floor living spaces has been monochromatically painted in a rich Majorelle blue, including the wood work and Victorian cornice details, offering a bold mission statement. Further surprises await upstairs where most of the original dividing walls have been demolished to create an open-plan space suitable for living, entertaining and, with the decision to install a bathtub, bathing. A study area next to the bathtub further underscores the room’s multifunctional aspect, with a separate bedroom rounding up the premises. Complementing the open-plan configuration, two new windows in the west elevation enhance the influx of natural light as well as allow the setting sun to bathe the room in amber tones in the evening.
What the compact apartment lacks in size, it makes up for in materiality with a diverse, tactile palette of materials, spanning raw exposed plaster and warm Douglas Fir to stainless steel and crisp micro-cement. Despite the variety, the space feels monogenous thanks to a muted colour scheme of earthy tones. The bold materiality is matched by daring splashes of colour introduced by an eclectic selection of furniture, many of which have been custom made by Holloway Li such as the minimal resin dining table and the bulbous T4 chair in bright orange, the latter launched at this year’s London Design Festival in collaboration with Uma. The presence of bespoke pieces also attests to the studio’s sustainability ethos and specifically its re-purposing of samples and creative use of off-cuts. Take for example the coffee table which is composed of different colour test samples of cast resin or the shower screen which is made from an off-cut from a resin panel that was cast for another project.
Exemplifying the studio’s talent for deftly blending heritage and contemporary elements, the team have swathed the walls and original Victorian butterfly roof in textured plaster, juxtaposed against a sleek stainless-steel kitchen inspired by London’s countless kebab and fish & chip shops. The all-metal kitchen stands out against the vernacular sensibility of the plaster and timber surfaces but at the same time harmoniously blends in thanks to the circular patterns of the brushed metal cabinets that pick up the plaster textures, and the curved backsplash that echoes the curvaceous forms of the furniture and the room’s curved limestone skirting, the latter yet another example of the studio’s eye for detail and craftsmanship.