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Interiors

Curated By... Bridie Hall

Designer-maker Bridie Hall joins us for the latest instalment of Curated By…

Originally from New Zealand, designer and maker Bridie Hall has been based in London for twenty years. Since 2008, Hall has divided her time between making art (her Alphabet brush pots and decoupage trays have become cult products) and selling charming accessories and furnishings at her store, Pentreath & Hall, which she co-owns with Ben Pentreath.

Based part-time at her beyond tempting little shop in London’s Bloomsbury, Hall is permanently surrounded by beautiful things. Here, she talks us through her design philosophy and inspirations.


 How did you get into art and design?

I cannot remember back to a time when I wasn’t either making something or conjuring up an idea about how to make something. My maternal grandmother, Janet, was my great early enabler. She voluntarily made wedding cakes and knitted jumpers for neighbours. She taught me what true creativity was from the moment I could sit upright at her kitchen table. That lead on naturally to a strong predilection for art throughout school, which I didn’t do well in, and then onto university, where despite my poor grades the lecturers could see potential. I studied design and visual communication and never looked back.

What is your design philosophy?

I’m a fairly slow worker when it comes to developing my work. I don’t suffer from a shortage of inspiration, designs and ideas bubble up endlessly, it’s never a problem. It could be easy to churn a prolific amount out like a sausage factory. I fundamentally feel that the amount of care and time you spend on your ideas is reflected in it’s longevity.

I’m much more comfortable mocking up ideas and sitting with patterns or objects and colourways for a long time sometimes to ensure that whatever it may be keeps pleasing me and remains relevant and retains its integrity before it is set free into the world.

I cannot look at what I am making as seasonal or fashion. I do not want people to think about their living environments that way – Christmas decorations being the exception.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I am an artist and a collector, the latter feeds the former, so my personal spaces have been built purposefully to display both my work and collections to reflect the museum I suppose I’m building myself over my lifetime. The bones of my home and my office remain faithful to the period of when they were built – Georgian and late Regency – I wouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel through changing anything dramatically architecturally when it’s such a no-brainer to play by the period rules and then let rip with it’s contents. In saying that I don’t like anything too silly and my colour choices are always kept on a pretty tight reign, you might 100% disagree when see it, looking closer, everything has been carefully considered and lives with me for a reason.

 

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Where do you get your inspiration?

In all the likely places, museums and galleries. Books and magazines. I have an ever-growing library. The British Museum is a short walk away from my office, so I’ll often duck out to have a fifteen-minute fling with one of the galleries. But it can come from anywhere, I think it’s more of a case of whether you’re open to it or not. Sometimes I’ll just think to myself  ‘Right, concentrate. What am I looking for? What do I want to see?’ and inspiration will come. At times it’s more about paying attention than being anywhere in particular.

Tell us about some of your favourite places to shop for/source homewares…

I don’t get there very often but always feel like I’m being shown something I’ve never seen before along Pimlico Road. It’s a rich seam to mine of the very best interiors have to offer. I’ll always take a look along the street before I visit the Masterpiece Art Fair in the summer, my favourite fair to go to. My own little neck of the woods, where my shop is, keeps getting better and better. Obviously owning an interiors shop means I never have to go too far at all to find what I’m looking for.

Credit: Rebecca Reid

Credit: Rebecca Reid

Some of your favourite projects to date…

As a designer and decorative artist, I’m all about the product rather than interior decoration projects. Coming up with the ideas for the shop and my own wholesale company products and figuring out how we get them made in the UK, and ideally in London, is something I rarely tire of. Setting up my own buzzing central London workshop a five-minute walk away from the shop and my office would have to be my favourite project. And is also central to my design philosophy.

Can you share some of your favourite artists/makers? 

Marianna Kennedy is my absolute favourite and I’m so lucky to call her a friend and, I’m not sure if she knows it but, my secret mentor too. Her approach to her work is what it’s all about. The 1960’s pop-artist nun Corita Kent strong works of love and peace are wonderful. Argentinean artist Julio Le Parc will never fail to blow my mind and neither will Odilon Redon. Fornasetti forever obviously!

How does travelling influence your designs and tastes?

Oh it’s wonderful to continue to observe and learn how a different or new place’s light and local colours and materials play so directly into the way of life. It influences everything. I’ll never forget visiting Copenhagen especially to go to the Thorsvaldsen Museum, a truly spectacular museum, and noticing that the inner casing of the windows had been painted cobalt blue and its effect was to kind of filter the harsh bright light from outside into the gallery – I thought that was just amazing.

 

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What are some tips you have on how our readers can bring a touch of Bridie Hall magic into their homes?

Those closest to me me know I live by a mantra that ‘it has to hurt’ meaning whatever it is I might think I want, or if I need a new toaster (which I never will because of my mantra) or something, is that whatever the budget I have to buy the best version that I can afford to the point where it has to hurt. That way I really think hard about whether it’s necessary or not, instead of ‘oh well, if it breaks I’ll just get a new one.’ If I have an ounce of doubt, I’m not getting it.

I also don’t believe in saving the best for best. Life’s too short and I spent far too many years forbidden to spend any time in my grandmother’s immaculate front room (which is where I wanted to spend all of my time) in case the Queen promptly decided to drop by for a cup of tea, while she was passing through. Use the best everyday.

Love what you live with and care about who made it. Shop local and champion and support artists and makers. It’s not really the what but the who is involved in the making whatever it is you love to live with that creates the magic.

FEATURE IMAGE: Credit: Rebecca Reid

 

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