A British Design Star on the Importance of Mixing It Up
Luke Edward Hall discusses having fun and letting your eccentric flag fly
Color zealots around the globe have turned British artist, designer, and Financial Times Weekend columnist Luke Edward Hall into an Instagram sensation (follower count as of press time? 166,000 and counting).
He’s just as worthy of following in real life: Hall started his namesake studio in 2015 and has since become a boldface name. He’s worked with storied brands and institutions—everyone from Burberry to London’s Royal Academy of Arts, founded in 1768—authored the book “Greco Disco: The Art & Design of Luke Edward Hall” (teNeues, October 2019), and has another book on the way.
It all started with a natural pull toward the aesthetically beautiful and unabashedly quirky. “Ever since I was a child, I’ve been drawing and making things,” says Hall. “I’ve got funny memories of making a working bridge based on the Tower Bridge of London out of cardboard with my grandparents. I always knew art and design were my path.”
We called across the pond to chat with Hall at his three-bedroom stone country cottage in the Cotswolds.
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR UPCOMING BOOK! TELL US ABOUT IT.
It’s going to be an interiors book, with photography of my flat in London and house in the country, but also drawings and inspiration and a mix of things—a bit of a mood board of projects, more or less based on individual projects and more about my work. Vendome is publishing it in autumn 2022.
HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN YOUR AESTHETIC?
It’s very colorful—color is clearly the key thing. And also very romantic, I would say, with a hint of nostalgia as well. I work across a variety of different things; I make my own artwork, but also interior design and other projects, like fashion. The thread that runs through always is a sense of playfulness and an appreciation of history and the past.
WHAT ARE THE KEY ELEMENTS OF DESIGNING A LIVING SPACE?
For me, I enjoy rooms that reflect their owner’s personality. That’s the overriding thing. They have to have a very personal touch. And they have to look good but be comfortable, too. The interiors that stand out most are ones that reflect their owner.
WHAT DO YOU APPRECIATE ABOUT BRITISH HOMES THAT YOU WISH MORE AMERICANS WOULD ADOPT?
There’s a British eccentricity and a kind of fearlessness I associate with English style that would be good to take on. I always tend to think of British style and interiors as being an eclectic mix, and not being too thought-through somehow. One of my favorite American designers is Miles Redd, because when I see one of his rooms I usually want to be transported to it instantly with a strong drink and a good suit to wear.
WHEN AND WHERE ARE YOU MOST CREATIVE?
I moved to the countryside in 2019 in the summer, long before Covid, and we now live here full time. Being here has been really good for me. I can work very well here because it’s so peaceful-we have no neighbors, and you can’t see any other buildings. I’m not a morning person, though. I get more creative as the day goes on. Often, I go out for a walk late morning, come back and feel refreshed.
WHAT ARE YOUR RULES OF DECORATING?
I’m not a rules person or a trends person. You have to follow your heart. If you love something, it will go with other things in your house. What I really love in interiors is an eclectic mix, not being a slave to one particular style. In projects I work on, I mix things in from different periods and don’t worry about whether something Georgian can go with something from the 1970s.
WHAT DOES YOUR HOUSE LOOK LIKE?
A lot of people say it has a Bloomsbury Group feel. It’s in line with my other things-very colorful and eclectic and playful. We have little 1970s white plastic table lamps, and the chests of drawers in the bedroom are Victorian or Georgian. I bought old chintz fabrics on eBay and made them into curtains and cushions and lampshades. It’s that classic English country look, but we’ve amped it up a bit. Our guest bedroom is painted arsenic green. The bathrooms are done in colorful silks. We’ve had fun!
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR COLLECTIONS.
I’m such a hoarder! I collect so many little bits of things wherever I go, and they remind me of places I’ve been to. I really love things shaped like vegetables. There’s a shop in Venice, Italy—Bruno Amadi—where the old man [proprietor] only sells things he made from glass. Really strange, funny things, like vegetables, fish, and animals. Whenever I go, I always pick something up, like glass radicchio leaves or glass asparagus.
WHEN WE ARE ABLE TO TRAVEL FREELY AGAIN, WHERE ARE YOU GOING FIRST AND WHY?
Probably Greece. I have a new exhibition starting now in Athens at The Breeder gallery. It’s a show of my drawings, paintings, and ceramics and, annoyingly, I can’t go at the moment. We’ve stayed on Hydra several times because it has no cars, it’s extremely beautiful, with no ugly buildings, and I like its connections with artists I admire, like John Craxton. That’s the plan as soon as I can!
WHAT’S YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR STYLING A TABLETOP?
It’s nice when things don’t match. So often we’ll put a floral tablecloth on and block-printed striped napkins, and different kinds of glasses and silver candlesticks. I don’t like a formal table setting. There’s a real trend for tablescaping, which is great, but it can’t be too tight—it can’t be too forced. It can look too precious. It should all be about who is going to be at the table, the food, informality, and having fun with it.
YOU EMPLOY A LOT OF GREENS IN YOUR WORK. WHY?
Green is my favorite color, I think because it reminds me of the outdoors and the countryside. And it’s probably one of the only colors I like every shade of. At the moment, I’m really liking kelly green, and a grass green I always love. There’s not one place I’d avoid using green.