The design duo happy to mix it up
THE QUESTION OF how to arrange a room is one that has foxed many an amateur interior designer. Most of us assemble a fairly disparate collection of furniture and objects over time, rather than a perfectly harmonising set, so how do you put it all together in a way that works?
The answer may well lie behind the doors of 8 Holland Street, a furniture, art and design gallery and store founded by interior decorator Tobias Vernon and curator Rowena Morgancox, who opened the west London space in March, and a second near Frome in Somerset last month.
The duo’s ethos is that a collection should ‘grow organically’, and as such they source their pieces from far and wide: at auctions, fairs and markets, through their contacts in the arts world, and from the emerging designers that come on to their radar. The looks they create are undoubtedly eclectic, but also – crucially – smart and well balanced.
Vernon and Morgan-cox take inspiration from the serene interiors of Kettle’s Yard, the modern-art gallery in Cambridge founded by the late collector Jim Ede, and subscribe to Ede’s belief that there should be no ‘hierarchy’ when it comes to displaying furniture and artworks. At their gallery and studio, you might find an 18thcentury cabinet rubbing shoulders with a modern print by Terry Frost, a silk Uzbek ikat panel hanging above a mid-century wicker lounge chair, or a Japanese screen juxtaposed with a contemporary plaster lamp by young designer Viola Lanari. The beauty, they believe, is in the mix, and good design is not necessarily about always putting your most valuable pieces front and centre.
The display at both locations changes on a monthly basis, and, whether or not you’re in the market for a piece of furniture or art, they offer plenty of ideas for how to arrange old, new and stylistically different pieces in a way that looks and feels coherent and calm. And, surely, isn’t that what we’re all aiming for?
The London gallery at 8 Holland Street, W8, is open daily; the Somerset studio is by appointment. 8hollandstreet.com
Right Tobias Vernon and Rowena Morgan-cox at their Holland Street gallery. Above Ceramics by young sculptor Emily Buck are displayed next to abstract paintings by Martin Bradley and John Eaves, and mid-1970s Hans Wegner chairs. Photographs by James Mcdonald and Ryan O’toole Collett