Studio No.12 on how to create luxury interiors with a masculine edge

Amy Bradford
·5-min read
Photo credit: Chris Richards-White
Photo credit: Chris Richards-White

From ELLE Decoration

Who are they? No.12 was founded in 2015 by Katie Earl and Emma Bradley, who met while working at leading design studio 1508 London. Both are experienced in luxury real-estate projects, but shared an ambition to create something different within that sphere: interiors that, they say, are ‘considered, refined and responsive to the client, context and location’. Reflecting that desire for originality, they chose a gender-neutral name for their studio and set out to capitalise on their particular strengths: Emma is a trained furniture designer with a passion for rare vintage pieces, while Katie is an interior architect who’s highly skilled at space planning.

Photo credit: Chris Richards-White
Photo credit: Chris Richards-White

What’s their style? Understated and modern, with the focus on a colour palette of warm neutrals and opulent materials (marble, brass and rich woods are recurring themes in their designs). ‘Although our aesthetic is wholly contemporary, we maintain a respect for the classics,’ says Katie. ‘We enjoy looking back to many different designers and movements, especially those that resonate with our style, such as mid-century architects Carlo Scarpa, Oscar Niemeyer and Louis Kahn, and artist Barbara Hepworth.’ References to art, fashion and emerging design styles inject a youthful freshness into their projects, which always exude calm sophistication.

Photo credit: Chris Richards-White, Image Creative Partnership
Photo credit: Chris Richards-White, Image Creative Partnership

What are their recent projects? The project that launched their careers was Gasholders London in King’s Cross, a symbol of the area’s regeneration. They worked with architects Wilkinson Eyre on the communal areas of the residential buildings housed within the grade II-listed, cast-iron gas holder frames. Their design for one of the apartments incorporated lattice work window screens, brass lighting, cream furnishing sand warm woods, with decorative details echoing the circular shape of the architecture. ‘It was an opportunity not just to make our mark, but to show respect for a structure that already had a long life,’ says Katie.

Photo credit: Chris Richards-White
Photo credit: Chris Richards-White

They created an equally thoughtful interior for female members’ club All Bright’s Bloomsbury outpost, taking inspiration from the style of the Bloomsbury Group to revamp the Georgian townhouse. The duo have also completed a number of elegant penthouses, including one in Knightsbridge. ‘We used luxury materials such as deep, plush velvets, specialist veneers, buttery suedes and lesser-known marbles, creating pieces with consistent details that felt like a family,’ explains Emma.

Photo credit: Chris Richards-White
Photo credit: Chris Richards-White

What are they currently working on? The renovation of a five-bedroom Victorian family home in Ireland, including an ultra-modern rear extension. ‘Every element, from the finishes, furniture and fabrics to the custom-designed crockery, is hand curated,’ says Emma. Also on the horizon is the conversion of a Georgian townhouse in St John’s Wood into seven unique apartments and two duplexes, for which they have been appointed lead architects. ‘Our ambition is to challenge the cookie-cutter approach to prime, multi-unit residential schemes,’ Katie explains.

Photo credit: Chris Richards-White
Photo credit: Chris Richards-White

They say: ‘Our vision for No.12 is to be unlike our competitors, with an aesthetic that is holistic and transcends trends. We believe in homes that can be celebrated for their effortless style – spaces that can be lived in.’ no12studio.com

EXPERT ADVICE

Katie and Emma’s tips on how to decorate for a refined and classic look

Plain but polished fabrics, such as velvets in rich tones, create a sophisticated, timeless effect.‘Rich’ is different from ‘bright’ and suggests a strong depth of colour – think burgundy or bronze. We steer away from pattern and very bright colours; for us, these are highlights which are successful when introduced via artwork.

Muted colours allow a space to be elegant in a way that feels natural and lasting. As we are a female duo, people are always surprised that our interiors lean to the masculine side, but it’s something we love to embrace.

Playing with scale is something we love to do. You can create focus in a space by making unusual choices. One example might be an oversized lamp – at least one-metre tall – on a console table. Or draw the eye by framing tiny vintage postcards and hanging them on a large wall. This technique can make a room feel more special and shows thought and personality.

Lighting can make or break a space, and with residential projects, light temperature is key to creating the ideal mood. We always use 2700K light bulbs in our designs. These diffuse a warm, white light that softens the feel of a room and delivers the perfect ambience from day to night.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK

Every project has its own unique list of suppliers and crafts people…

ANTIQUES

Alfies Antique Market is north London’s hidden gem for lovers of vintage design classics. It houses a plethora of dealers that unearth rare finds from Scandinavia, Italy and further afield. Whether you’re hunting for a specific item or seeking inspiration for a project, you’ll be spoilt for choice here. alfiesantiques.com

CRAFT

Kensington gallery Willer, owned by Rebecca Willer, is our crown jewel for dressing any project. It has everything from limited-edition sculptures by artist Lynn Chadwick to contemporary crockery. When you need something extra special to bring a room alive, this is the place to come. willer.co.uk

LIGHTING

Kaia in Marylebone is our new go-to for statement lighting – we can’t get enough of its sleek, modern designs in glass, marble, nickel and brass. kaialighting.com

DESIGN-ART

The Invisible Collection is an online platform where you can find the most beautiful handcrafted pieces by contemporary interior designers such as Pierre Yovanovitch. It also offers a virtual styling service to help you find the perfect items for your home. theinvisiblecollection.com

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration February 2021

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