A portrait of David Bowie inspired the vibrant look of this London home

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Photo credit: Rachael Smith
Photo credit: Rachael Smith

When Simone Gordon and Sophie Van Winden, founders of east-London-based studio Owl Design, were asked by their famous singer-songwriter client to redesign his new central London apartment, there was only one rule: there are no rules.

‘He wanted something that was completely different from his country home, which is a converted barn,’ says Simone. ‘The brief was to make the design, rather than the views, stand out. Beyond that, we had almost free rein.’

Photo credit: Rachael Smith
Photo credit: Rachael Smith

While the 25-storey building designed by Foster + Partners that houses this three-bedroom home has a distinctive architectural style, the original show apartment’s interior was beige on beige.

‘We went to see it with our client and he said, “This is exactly what I don’t want!”,’ recalls Simone. It was just too boring. He wanted something with wow factor. ‘He had this great David Bowie artwork, which is quite geometric with reds and blues. That helped to set the tone.’

Photo credit: Rachael Smith
Photo credit: Rachael Smith

One of the first decisions was to replace the existing wooden floors with shiny Marmoleum (a modern, more eco-friendly alternative to linoleum) featuring a bespoke geometric design.

To complement the flooring, a rich cornflower blue has been used in the hallway, which hosts the David Bowie portrait. This gives way to lime-plastered walls in a gentle celadon shade in the main open-plan living area, which provides a backdrop
for the brighter bursts of colour and pattern.

Photo credit: Rachael Smith
Photo credit: Rachael Smith

‘We were thinking about something with a slight Memphis feel to it,’ says Simone, ‘but it was more about creating a playful look than copying that exact style.’ From the graphic shelving to the curvaceous sofa and rug, many of the details are bespoke, displaying subtle echoes of the more out-there elements of 1970s and 80s Italian design.

Everyone agreed on the need to carry this dynamism through to the rest of the apartment, including the bedrooms, media room and even the glistening, mosaic-festooned guest bathroom, where a Bowie song strikes up as soon as you step inside. The kitchen, only recently installed as part of the show apartment, was given a fresh touch of paint and new tiles, in a bold grid pattern, to help it match this home’s high-octane energy.

Photo credit: Rachael Smith
Photo credit: Rachael Smith

‘Because our client doesn’t use the apartment all the time, we wanted a bit of a boutique-hotel feel, and he especially loves the bar,’ says Sophie, referring to the dedicated drinks cabinet between the living area and dining space. Open it up and a fantastic pop of bright red is revealed.

It’s yet another moment of surprise and excitement in an apartment where, adds Sophie, ‘every room feels like a space for entertaining’. owldesign.co.uk

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