Life on the grid
In London’s radically reimagined King’s Cross district, designer Rhonda Drakeford has created a hyper-modern space that suits its inner-city setting
In London’s radically re-imagined King’s Cross district, designer Rhonda Drakeford has created a hyper-modern space that perfectly suits its inner-city setting
We often start renovation projects by considering how to make the most of our homes’ existing features – but this bland, white box of a new build, on the eighth floor of an imposing, brick-and-tile high-rise, was distinctly lacking in personality. In fact, the star attraction of the two-bedroom apartment in London’s King’s Cross was the view. ‘The surrounding tower blocks are unashamedly urban, and I wanted the apartment to really become part of this setting,’ explains its interior designer, Rhonda Drakeford. She’s pulled this feat off by creating her own pastel-toned take on Brutalism.
Rhonda is best known as the creative force behind Darkroom, the cult lifestyle brand currently hosting a pop up shop at Bert & May on Vyner Street, east London. However, for her interior design projects, she works under the name of Studio Rhonda. ‘ While there are recognisable traits across everything I do – strong, structural grids and bold colours that play off organic textures – my Darkroom aesthetic is quite focused, while Studio Rhonda is more free. It’s a conversation with each client.’
The clients in this case are a couple, both chefs. They wanted a home with impact – somewhere to run cookery courses, meet clients and do plenty of entertaining. It needed a statement kitchen and an element of concrete. Beyond that, they trusted Rhonda’s vision. She included concrete via pigmented tiles, all specially made by Bert & May, arranged in strict, graph paper-like formation. ‘I wanted the imperfect finish of handmade tiles to serve as a contrast to the sharp gridlines,’ she says.
The colour of concrete also informs the chunky bands of grey paint that give definition to each room. ‘They’re about being playful and creating optical illusions,’ explains Rhonda. Against this backdrop, brighter shades pop out. First came the pink, chosen to echo a neighbouring highrise, then shades of blue – cobalt and cornflower – inspired by the ever-changing skies outside. Primrose yellow and pea green complete the confident quartet, with Rhonda deliberately choosing varied tones rather than a rigid palette. ‘I’ve used chalkier shades of bright colour to bring more depth to the overall look,’ she says.
Seeing Rhonda’s vibrant vision come sharply to life, the homeowners cheerfully discarded their former furniture in favour of more colourful pieces – many of them made by Rhonda herself. The designer also created the mural in the living room, which is inspired by mathematical charts. The finished apartment transcends its bland beginnings. ‘It creates quite an abstract feeling,’ says Rhonda. ‘Like floating above a cityscape.’ studio-rhonda.com Kitchen Bespoke cabinets are surrounded by specially-made Bert & May tiles. A ‘Rok’ sink by Astracast is combined with a blue Vola tap. The black ‘Slice’ chopping boards are by Darkroom and the concrete containers on the island are from Etsy Stockist details on p269 ➤