Art & Design
ELLE DECORATION AT UPPER RIVERSIDE
Following from the London-based designer Tom Dixon — who last year conceived cutting-edge British interiors for a series of limited-edition lofts in Upper Riverside — Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration Michelle Ogundehin and team have brought the publication’s design magic to the Peninsula.
In a style dubbed by Ogundehin as “ED classic”, the interiors include pieces that date from 1934 — without being overtly vintage or retro in feel — to the boldly contemporary. “The look is about quality of design and integrity of the pieces because, for me, great design is never bound by age, era or nationality,” Ogundehin explains.
Ogundehin has paid special attention to the use of colour. Natural hues are emboldened by blush pink and vetiver green, and positioned against a moodier-hued backdrop. “We chose these amazing ‘Fade’ hand-painted seascape wall panels from Phillip Jeffries in the lounge area, and then selected the darkest shades from it to colour the adjacent wall using a new glorious inky turquoise blue from Farrow & Ball called Inchyra Blue. As you approach the study and bedroom area, the tones drop to be much calmer. The study is devised as the area for clients to sit and talk business, so here there’s a subtle lift to the scheme via the rug, which brings in some warm terracotta tones.”
Slicked across the ceiling is the softest of pink lacquering, which evokes a sense of being surrounded by water; it’s a neat effect, heightened by the apartment’s glimpses of the river. “I believe in always using what I deem to be pure and natural materials,” says Ogundehin. “So the core is made up of organic elements, such as brass, glass, marble, silk, leather and chrome.”
Tactility is also important, and walls are clad in mirrored or textured wallpaper. “I think I will single-handedly bring about the revival of those Anaglypta wall coverings,” she says with a laugh. “Why have flat walls when you can thrill your fingertips with texture?
The floor plan features a continuous interior landscape, designed for an easy transition from room to room; the kitchen flows to a dining space to sleeping quarters, maximising the spectacular views. Ogundehin has positioned the dining room as the fulcrum around which all other social spaces in the home revolve, siting her own home as inspiration for this. As a focal point in the dining room, Ogundehin has chosen a pair of Ventaglio oak tables, designed by Le Corbusier’s long-time collaborator Charlotte Perriand. The selection adds creed to her ethos that good design doesn’t date. “Charlotte designed them for Cassina in 1972. The design concept is about flexibility and versatility, as their non-orthogonal shape means you can sit more people around the table; great for a space where the dining area is intended as the centre point of activity,” says Ogundehin.
“For me, it’s about understanding what the space has to do, and then crafting a story around that. I always start with a concept first, rather than style; otherwise it’s just an exercise in forcing a prescribed look over a space regardless of what that space has to do. Here, it was about shaping a narrative. I wanted visitors to imagine themselves transported to an inspiring new world that could represent their new life on the Greenwich Peninsula.”
Sat around the dining room table is a desirable collection of chairs by well-known designers, including Gio Ponti, whose lightweight ‘Superleggera’ chair, along with Rodolfo Dordoni’s ‘Pilotta’ seat, created some 50 years apart, Ogundehin sites as hero pieces. “I think these are two of the most elegant chairs ever designed. What’s amazing about these pieces is that they look eternally modern, and that to me is the mark of great design.”
Flanking the dining area is the kitchen and lounge; this is a floor plan that functions just as well for grown-up dinner parties as it does daily domestic duties. The bedroom, though, is devised to be a private sanctuary, and Ogundehin has implemented a gentler, more romantic tone. The view across the river and beyond towards Canary Wharf is framed by blue-grey velvet curtains; and Antonio Citterio’s ‘Grand Repos’ lounger, upholstered in pale linen, provides an elegant feel. “Personally, I think this is a more sophisticated chair than the Eames version, which people always tend to default to when seeking a ‘designer’ lounger. The shade of the chair was reflected in the cotton, cashmere and silk bed linens.”
Whether working, dining, reading the weekend papers or playing with the kids, Ogundehin explains that prioritising the narrative of a space is key to designing functional, beautiful and stylish interiors: “Space to relax. Space to cook. Space to come together in the middle.”
We asked Ogundehin about her personal style, and what she’s enjoying at home.
FAVOURITE PIECE OF FURNITURE OR OBJECT IN YOUR HOME?
Something very simple that I love is my Fornasetti scent diffuser. It’s a black glass orb featuring the signature black and white faces synonymous with the brand and it’s filled with oil. The bowl is a piece of art and scent gently infuses my whole house. I put them in the suite too as scent is so often forgotten in spaces like this and yet if a space smells musty, it’ll taint your entire experience regardless of how beautiful it might look.
My day starts at 6am; I have a small child and the nursery run involves an uphill buggy push so my daily uniform tends to comprise a decent pair of jeans and a great shirt and jacket. Slap on a bit of red lipstick, brush hair and I’m done. Black leather boots in the Winter, my beloved Converse for Spring and Autumn, and as strappy as possible sandals for the summer!
WHAT ARE YOU READING?
I’ve just finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s an incredible piece of writing, poetic yet brutal at times, which had me in tears with empathy for the protagonists.