What exactly is 8 Holland Street?
It’s a gallery and design space situated between bohemian Notting Hill and elegant Kensington that, funnily enough, can be found at number eight Holland Street! The gallery showcases an expertly curated selection of covetable gems for the home – from 20th-century British artwork and vintage European furniture to Moroccan textiles and unusual objects sourced from across the globe. Throw in a mix of contemporary design pieces and a small library of cultural reference books and you have a treasure trove of inspiration.
Who’s behind it?
Former interior designer and art buyer Tobias Vernon founded the gallery as a space for bringing his colourful and eclectic aesthetic to life. He brought in Rowena Morgan-Cox as the gallery’s curator, who specialises in 19th and 20th-century British art and design. They are joined by Naomi French, a gallery associate with a honed contemporary eye who keeps 8 Holland Street up to date with the now.
How did the concept come about?
Tobias was sourcing art for international clients and working variously with Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and Rowena worked in a fine art gallery. The pair wanted to open a space that didn’t just sell a particular period of furniture or art, but instead a place that could showcase all kinds of objects that would sit harmoniously together. The result is a space that sits in the hard to define ‘classic modern’ category, providing a look that feels fresh, but is grounded in heritage and time-tested design.
So what draws people in?
8 Holland Street’s customers come as much for the relaxed atmosphere as they do the curated pieces. The gallery is designed to inspire clients with easy-steal ideas for their own homes. Tobias’ background as an interior designer is evident in the high-low mix – precious artworks by the likes of Victor Pasmore and Elisabeth Frink sit next to recycled glassware and battered Arts and Crafts furniture. Everything is for sale, so if something captures your imagination they can bag it up for you to take straight home.
Any genius finds?
Rowena is currently coveting a gorgeous library sofa and ottoman by Cassandra Ellis, and a small Terry Frost print called Double Quay. On our visit to the shop we fell for Emily Buck’s rough, hand-built porcelain vessels and a pair of vintage bookends by Lino Sabattini. You’ll also spot attention-grabbing, striped Murano glassware by Campbell-Rey, a favourite of high-end homewares buffs.
Where do they source it all?
The team hunts for pieces all over Europe. Lots of the stock comes from markets in France and Italy, but they also gather items such as soft furnishings and wall hangings from Scandinavia and Morocco. There’s an emphasis on studio pottery, much of which comes from the UK. Tobias and Rowena also work with contemporary artists and craftspeople who provide new objects for the gallery. Through outreach with the local community, the gallery has attracted the attention of nearby makers who’ve started to contribute their works.
As a gallery, it must hold an exhibition or two...
Indeed. This year expect a show inspired by Kettle’s Yard, the Cambridge museum and showcase for all things 20th-century British art. Another exhibition will be based around the Three Shields Gallery, which was a multidisciplinary space that once occupied the same location 8 Holland Street does today. The gallery also hosts small exhibits of the young artists it works with, including Ditte Blohm, Rachael Cocker and Francesca Mollett.
Anything else in the pipeline?
The team has just opened a by-appointment workshop in Somerset where you can get your hands on freshly restored furniture. And it will also be expanding its fledgling interior design service. A capsule collection of furniture and lighting is also on the way, as well as further collaborations with exciting new makers, designers and artists.