House of Hackney’s co-founder Frieda Gormley discusses the interior greats who have inspired the renovation of the London townhouse she shares with her husband Javvy and their two children, Lila and Javi.
Pivotal in Frieda’s introduction to the world of interior design as a teenager, decorator Billy Baldwin is the man responsible for fashion editor Diana Vreeland’s iconic ‘Garden in Hell’ room. The “irreverently beautiful” living room, covered in John Fowler scarlet floral chintz inspired the ‘Red Room’ in Frieda and Javvy’s own house. Combining a total of three different wallpapers and covering every inch of the room in print, it’s safe to say they took the all-encompassing aesthetic to a mesmerising next level. Advice of Baldwin’s that chimes with House of Hackney’s own guidance for customers is to, “be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style.”
“When I came across the work of Madeleine Castaing through a second-hand book, I instantly fell in love with it,” says Frieda. Castaing’s use of animal prints has long inspired the brand – “a taupe-coloured animal print is my favourite neutral and goes with everything,” says Frieda – and pops of leopard and zebra prints are used as ‘neutrals’ throughout the townhouse. The only carpet used in the townhouse is a stair runner which features Castaing’s iconic banana leaf design in a bespoke colour palette. “I expressed myself in what touched me all my life; in houses, gardens, furniture, ornamentation, and interior design, where imagination, emotion plays,” Castaing once told Architectural Digest.
Famed for his interior design ventures in Morocco, Bill Willis’ career took off after he renovated a run-down 18th century palace in Marrakech’s medina for the American oil heir J. Paul Getty and his wife Talitha. “The ‘snug’ with its tented-style wallpapered ceiling, is inspired by Bill Willis’ work,” explains Frieda. Morocco itself provided lots of inspiration for the renovation of the townhouse with the installation of ground floor archways as well as opulent lanterns, ornate mirrors and woven rugs dotted throughout. Artisanal, flamboyant and ever referencing orientalism, Willis once said “My discovery of the Islamic world has been an astounding experience.”
“When decorating the home, we were very inspired by the aesthetic movement, of which William Morris was part of,” Frieda says. William Morris was a big inspiration to Frieda and Javvy when they set about founding House of Hackney. “Like us, he was a bit of an interiors punk and rebelled against tradition,” she adds. In Lila’s bedroom, the House of Hackney reworking of William Morris’ classic ‘Dasiy’ wallpaper adorns the walls. “It’s probably one of my favourite wallpapers,” says Frieda. William Morris’ mantra, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” is particularly poignant to Frieda and Javvy’s approach to minimalist living and their mission to not simply fill their home “with lots of ‘stuff’”.