ma­te­rial world

In­cor­po­rat­ing re­claimed wood from the East, old lamps hitched on pul­leys and tac­tile vin­tage el­e­ments, Bel­gian de­signer Lionel Jadot has brought out the soul of this stately Lon­don town­house.

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No de­tail is left un­turned by Lionel Jadot’s watch­ful and play­ful eye. When the Bel­gian de­signer took on this project, a nar­row four-storey town­house in Lon­don’s Knights­bridge, he started with a syn­op­sis. “I wanted to cre­ate the feel­ing not of be­ing in the heart of a busy city but of be­ing on hol­i­day — even if it’s just trav­el­ling with your eyes from the sofa,” Jadot says. “If you take the time to sit and look, there are sur­prises ev­ery­where. You will see a lot of lit­tle things.” Jadot opened out the house so that wher­ever the own­ers sit — whether in the kitchen or din­ing room — they can see through to an­other space and not feel like they’re liv­ing in a box. Aside from the stair­case and a moulded ceil­ing in the draw­ing room, Jadot has changed ev­ery­thing. He re­moved walls; re­ar­ranged room lay­outs; cre­ated space from for­mer scul­leries for a lower-ground swim­ming pool; and built a small, re­laxed gar­den so that each room could soak up light and ver­dant views. Jadot’s de­sign ap­proach is both self-taught and deeply in­stinc­tive. He spent much of his child­hood in his fam­ily’s Van­hamme be­spoke up­hol­ster­ing fac­tory out­side Brus­sels and, fol­low­ing the pre­ma­ture death of his mother, honed his skills from the age of 18 while work­ing with his fa­ther. His play­ground was the fac­tory floor, where he fash­ioned toys from the leftovers of sofa frames, feath­ers, colour­ful fab­rics and horse­hair. It gave him the free­dom to ex­plore, to take risks, to “see”. “It changed the way I looked at ev­ery­thing, from the street to the for­est,” he says. “Any­thing could be in­ter­est­ing to me.” This pas­sion for the re­claimed and re­pur­posed echoes through­out the house. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with a trusted team of ar­ti­sans, Jadot and his work em­pha­sise the be­spoke and unique. “It al­lows me to in­vent and give some­thing more spe­cial to my clients,” he says. Lodged be­tween large slabs of ex­otic wood shipped from the East is a huge batch of dis­carded offf­f­cuts that Jadot res­cued from a fac­tory go­ing out of busi­ness in Bel­gium. Th­ese pieces in­spired the striped de­tail­ing, mixed with brass, through­out the kitchen and din­ing ar­eas. The ex­tra-wide flfloor­boards were also res­cued, this time from an old fac­tory in South Amer­ica. The orig­i­nal doors of the house were reimag­ined as pan­elling in the draw­ing room and as a “con­tem­po­rary com­po­si­tion” set within black ››

‹‹ MDF frames in the teenagers’ rooms. “I see it as my job not to cut down any more trees if I can help it,” Jadot says. A key to Jadot’s de­sign is his fo­cus on ma­te­ri­als. For ex­am­ple, he’s se­cured glass panels within strips of bam­boo, in­laid hand-forged iron doors and hitched up sculp­tural lights made from old lamps us­ing a pul­ley sys­tem of his own de­sign. “You can play with [the lights], po­si­tion­ing them in dif­fer­ent ways like you would play with a work of art,” he says. Jadot has in­ge­niously hid­den tele­vi­sions be­hind slid­ing panels or framed art­works. Else­where, gold leaf — in­side nooks and be­hind thick glass bath­room bricks — fur­ther helps to catch the light. A vast col­lec­tion of vin­tage Bake­lite and 18th- and 19th-cen­tury brass han­dles that he’s picked up on his trav­els lend warmth to cup­board doors. In the bed­rooms, tac­tile leathers — sourced from a tan­nery in Spain that uses old tech­niques and no chem­i­cals — leave a sub­tle scent. He works or­gan­i­cally, “fol­low­ing a feel­ing”, tak­ing each room one by one. “I never have the whole plan in my head when I de­sign a house,” he says. “I like to work on one lit­tle thing and then the next lit­tle thing — like piec­ing to­gether a puz­zle. I worry that if I think about a project all at once, I’ll be­come com­pla­cent and sac­ri­fice my in­tegrity and orig­i­nal­ity.” This spir­ited flow of ideas al­lows for sen­sual de­signs, too. The lines of the top-floor bath­room’s glass par­ti­tions, rem­i­nis­cent of ››

‹‹ a chic Parisian con­ser­va­tory, fol­low the curves of the house’s rooftop. Shafts of nat­u­ral light catch from the Julie Lip­pens­de­signed ter­raced gar­den and flflood down through the open stair­case to each flfloor be­low. The lower-ground pool, which is lined with Pierre de Vals stone, brings the out­side in with views of the gar­den’s York stone steps and plants of box and ever­green. “I al­ways think it is a lit­tle de­press­ing if you can’t catch glimpses of the sky when you swim,” Jadot says. For this sixth-gen­er­a­tion fur­ni­ture-maker turned artist, ar­chi­tect, de­signer and fi­film­maker, this highly con­sid­ered ap­proach has be­come his sig­na­ture. “I don’t feel at home in a min­i­mal house,” Jadot says. “I like to see im­per­fec­tions and play with a mix of ex­per­tise and non­cha­lance. I try to cul­ti­vate the feel­ing that when I change a house, maybe some of it was there be­fore. I look to bring the soul out in ev­ery­thing.”

this page: in the draw­ing room, re­pur­posed wooden doors serve as both wall pan­elling and a slid­ing screen to hide the tele­vi­sion; VANGHENT rug; LIONEL JADOT chaise longue. op­po­site page: in the kitchen nook, GAS­TON IZAGUIRRE paint­ing; kitchen is­land de­signed in brass with mar­ble sourced form Do­minique Des­im­pel; Rocky Moun­tain Hard­ware tap; Lionel Jadot vel­vet-up­hol­stered sofa.

this page, from left: the lower ground floor pool. In the study, LIONEL JADOT cus­tom ta­ble and bench, lined with nat­u­rally fin­ished leather sourced from Spain; wood floors res­cued from an old fac­tory in South Amer­ica; cup­board doors made from rem­nants of teak, padauk and iroko; 19th-cen­tury paint­ing, artist un­known; vin­tage Swedish pen­dant lamp. op­po­site page: in the din­ing area, Jadot de­signed the pen­dant lamp us­ing vin­tage el­e­ments.

this page: in the bath­room, AGAPE bathtub; taps from Dorn­bracht. op­po­site page, clock­wise from top left: in one bed­room, vin­tage desk chair up­hol­stered in Turk­ish silk vel­vet; JOSÉ ESTEVES bed­side light. In the main bed­room, cup­boards lined with nubuck leather from Stolz; writ­ing nook lined with brass frame and gold leaf; cup­board doors dis­guise an­other tele­vi­sion; 18th-cen­tury Chi­nese stool. In an­other view of the bath­room, bam­boo se­cures glass panels for par­ti­tions. In a teenager’s bed­room, vin­tage desk chair; VANGHENT her­ring­bone car­pet; oak cab­i­netry; cup­boards in painted MDF with doors made from raf­fif­fia. De­tails, last pages.

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