When Terence Conran and his wife Vicki do design, beautiful, understated style rules. But in their Thames-side apartment, the river view provides the drama...
An apartment within the Richard Rogers-designed Montevetro building in southwest London. It has a living/dining room, office/sitting room, kitchen, two bedrooms, one en-suite bathroom, two shower rooms and a balcony terrace.
It seems appropriate, given Sir Terence Conran’s status as modern design’s founding father in the UK, that he and his wife should not only be based in a building designed by another great – architect Richard Rogers – but that as you rise up in the lift, or look out one of the windows, almost every iconic London landmark, from Big Ben to the Shard, is in full view.
No strangers to riverside living – Terence was instrumental in revolutionising the Shad Thames area near Tower Bridge in the early Nineties – it’s a first for them to be living on one level and up so high (the couple’s main base is still the majestic Barton Court in Berkshire.
When the couple moved in, the first thing they did was to change the floor, which was made up of shiny dark-grey slabs. In its place, they laid oak boards to enhance the light and, being near the river, to inspire a driftwood feel. The colour of the floor was the starting point and everything else flowed from that.
The couple also rearranged some of the spaces to better suit their needs, knocking two of the original four bedrooms into one to create a second sitting room-cum-office (and a third bedroom, with a sofa bed, if needed).
With his own Benchmark furniture company based on the doorstep of their country home, Terence enjoys the luxury of having many things custom made – a perfect example being the bespoke shelving unit in the living room, which he designed (complete with laser-cut holes to allow for remote control access to the TV, cleverly hidden behind an 18th-century landscape painting), which Benchmark then made in laminated ply.
The way it fits so beautifully along the wall allows the rest of the space to breathe. Against the pale backdrop hues of oak floors and white walls, a subtle but vibrant energy comes from bursts of colour – from the orange Victor desk by Roberto Lazzeroni and lime-green sculpture by Simon Taylor in the living room to Vicki’s collection of art and ceramics, mainly by graduates of the RCA.
Such a heroic space needed a heroic table – and it was a heroic effort to get it into the apartment. It took 11 men to haul it up the eight flights of stairs.
More artwork lines the walls of the gallery-like entrance.
The couple pared back the built-in storage that lined every wall and removed the island to allow for a small table and chairs.
This space doubles as a second reception room.
Vicki found a bookbinder-turned-picture hanger to help her hang the artwork.
With their busy lives, everything is organised and easy to find.
The bathrooms were made to last – designed in Holland and shipped in as self-contained units, they fitted straight into the apartment’s original design.
Photography / Paul Raeside