Founded by Duncan Campbell and Charlotte Rey, Campbell-Rey is an award-winning design studio known for its unique amalgam of colour, craftsmanship, and conviviality.
To coincide with the launch of their inaugural furniture collection, created in collaboration with The Invisible Collection, we caught up with the design duo to learn more about the playful pieces they’ve created for the luxury e-commerce site. Plus, we unpick how travelling influences the pair’s designs and tastes, and discover their unconventional route into design…
How did you get into design?
Duncan: We came to design in a slightly unconventional way, beginning our career together at Acne Studios’ biannual culture publication, Acne Paper. It was a fantastic grounding in the editorial process, and in how to find and tell remarkable stories in unexpected ways. Storytelling is still very much part of the way we approach our furniture and interiors today, thinking about the narratives behind and context around each piece, and the dialogues we can create between styles, periods, and objects.
Charlotte: We have always been interested in the physical space and what can be achieved with and within it. However, a book or a magazine can be a world and transport you through time and space, this understanding inspired and grounded us within our practice.
We love how the experience of a space can create emotion, fill you with joy and an appreciation for beauty. Today we are a design practice that works across commercial and residential interior projects, bespoke furniture, and home accessories as well as collaborations and special projects.
What was the catalyst that led to the creation of Campbell–Rey?
C: We set up our studio in 2014 and in the beginning, we worked in art and creative direction, before slowly being asked to take on more design-led projects. In a way, the creation evolved organically, the first project was small, a design commission for The London Edition hotel for Design Week, and then they grew and now they are relatively large.
What keeps us going is the constant pursuit of learning, discovery, and to make beautiful things; there’s a burning ember there that can’t be quenched.
What is your design philosophy?
D: In our practice we work very instinctively, and we always aim for beauty, conviviality, comfort, and elegance. This might mean mixing colours and patterns, giving new expressions to traditional decorative techniques, mixing antiques and inherited family pieces with contemporary design and art. We always consider space and light as a luxury and placing the human experience at the centre each scheme.
C: We love working in architecturally beautiful spaces because we are naturally guided and inspired by the structure itself. It’s important to remember to stay playful and open, design is always a process and not an end goal.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
D: Colourful, joyful, layered, and refined. Glass half full beauty with a sense of conviviality. There’s an abundance of colour and pattern, unexpected materials, and things with history and patina – objects and furniture where you can feel the skill in the execution and the sense of a life well lived.
C: We’re both very drawn to the well-made and beautifully executed, often in gorgeous and unexpected colours. We are specific about our colour choices and our palette often reads like a menu… cardamom, burgundy, mustard, raspberry, yolk. The mix and dialogue between contemporary and antique pieces excite us, and we love surprising details like a trompe l’oeil moment or a hidden bar behind a jib door.
Tell us about your collaboration with The Invisible Collection…
C: We have been making bespoke furniture for private clients for the past few years but always as private commission and as one-off pieces.
We have admired The Invisible Collection from afar since its inception, making collectable works readily available from some of the most respected names in design is such an ingenious and elegant idea, we wish we had thought of it!
About a year ago we started putting together some ideas and as we were developing the collection, we posted about it on Instagram. Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays, Co-Founder of The Invisible Collection, reached out to discuss it and it went from there. We are incredibly thrilled to be launching our inaugural collection with them; a bit of a dream come true!
Talk us through some of your favourite projects to date…
D: It tends to be our current ones that we’re most excited about. Right now, we’re working on a nineteenth-century canal house in Utrecht in the Netherlands, two projects in London, an apartment on the Upper East Side, and we’re about to start the renovation of a Belle Époque villa near San Remo. All quite different projects from an architectural point of view, but they all share a sense of magic – adventurous clients with a commitment to creating something remarkable.
Where do you get your inspiration?
C: We often inspire each other. We have an ever-expanding universe and as we travel and see presentations or galleries or come across designers or materials these references continue to grow. In a way it all adds up to an ongoing dialogue or library of inspirations, materials, textures, ideas that we talk about, look out for, and add to when we work or travel. Depending on what the project is, we often deep dive into that archive and choose what we feel is relevant – it often starts with books, but can just as easily be a paint colour, a sample of a fabric, a mood-board image, and then we go from there.
D: It’s quite constant, we are both obsessive and are avid collectors so we both constantly juggle things that have caught our eye or imagination. It’s a bit of a journey each time, which is what makes it so exciting; it’s always quite fun to look back at what we started with and then where we end up, from an inspiration to the feeling of a finished piece.
List some designers and makers you really admire and tell us why you admire them…
D: I think Fabrizio Casiraghi, Studio Peregalli, Atelier AM, and ASH NYC are doing some of the most interesting work today. They all create work that’s transportive, vernacular, and timeless, while still feeling very contemporary.
Historically speaking, we’re inspired by the Weiner Werkstätte, particularly Josef Hoffmann and Dagobert Peche, in the way that every detail was considered and crafted from the architecture down to the door handles.
We also love Jean Michel Frank, Andre Arbus for their mastery of materials, and Piero Portaluppi for his all-encompassing vision. Finally, Josef Frank for his ability to craft an entire universe completely of his own, that feels as modern and relevant today as it did a hundred years ago.
C: I recently came across a designer called Hugo Toro, his work is beautifully crafted, earthy, and rich. I also saw a wonderful floor lamp called ‘The Palm’ made with hand-rolled, kiln-slumped glass by Blue Green Works which I think is very sexy and cool. I adore the interiors by India Mahdavi, they’re playful, feminine, and fun, and I’m very inspired by Gabriella Crespi and how she took what was then considered an undesirable material (bamboo) and made it luxe in the 60 and 70s. Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen is also an endless source of beauty.
Some of your favourite places to shop for homewares…
D: The Invisible Collection, Svenskt Tenn, The Apartment Copenhagen, Brownrigg, Crosta Smith Gallery, and Lisa Corti.
How does travelling influence your designs and tastes?
C: In every single way. We travel all the time and are continuously seeking inspiration. A key part of our job to go and seek out interesting and unique places and objects with unusual qualities. The eye has to travel.
D: Travel to us is about opening your eyes and your mind, and we’re endlessly inspired by the architecture, art, and nature we find while travelling, and finding ways to bring these elements into our projects.
What are some tips you have on how our readers can bring a touch of Campbell–Rey magic into their homes?
D: Some of our favourite interiors are ones that feel most like the people who live in them. Our work is a lot about conviviality and bringing people together, so we would always recommend thinking carefully about how you plan to use a space as this is easily as important as the way it looks.
C: We love creating thoughtful, surprising moments within our projects – so perhaps consider where would be a great spot for your coffee in the morning, a chic corner for an apéritif or why not bring a table outside for a late, long lunch in the garden? We also think it’s important to consider the small details – if you use something every day like a teapot or a drinking glass, why not make it a beautiful one and elevate even the smallest rituals so they feel special.
Discover The Invisible Collection X Campbell-Rey’s collection in full here.