Amandine Alessandra
+44 7813 156232
info@theinteriorphotographer.co.uk

Hello July

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Saint-Germain-en-Laye Castle

The monumental Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. Louis XIV, who had just moved his residence to Versailles, turned it over to King James II, then in exile from Britain, for the rest of his life.

Portrait/Interview:
Alexandra Malouta

This week graphic designer Berta Ferrer interviews interior architect Alexandra Malouta. I met them while shooting London’s latest co-living development, Old Oak, a project led by The Collective, which has been massively covered by the press recently. I was fascinated by the amount of energy necessary to design such a huge number of rooms, with extremely different atmospheres and strong characters: there’s a spa, a library, a game room, a cinema, a pub-inspired dining room, another inspired by Japan, a secret garden room, just to name a few. So when Berta introduced me to Alexandra, who was styling the rooms ahead of the shoot, designating the smiley young woman as the interior designer responsible for this huge project, I couldn’t resist and asked them if they would agree to make this interview happen.
So glad they did!

Alexandra Malta in the Secret Garden room at Old Oak

The room is empty. Our steps echo in the stillness of the space.
Light comes slowly through the curtains and we decide to sit on some pillows near the window. We have chosen the spa because is one of my companion’s favourite rooms in the building, and because its quiet atmosphere provides the perfect scenario for a relaxed conversation. Alexandra Malouta describes herself as an Interior Architect.
One might be tempted to ask what exactly that means, but it needs not much explanation after walking around and seeing how she has transformed the communal spaces of the world’s largest co-living building into small universes of their own. I have been working with her for more than a year now and I still remain speechless every time she uses her superpower as an architect and designer to create a new interior space.

Berta Ferrer: This is a huge project —an eleven storeys residential building with 511 units—, what has been the biggest challenge that you encountered in the process?

Alexandra Malouta: The scale of the project. It has been a challenge both personal and professionally, as it was the first time that I was dealing with such a large scheme. It is also the first big scale development for The Collective and we were all learning during the process.
Alexandra_Malouta_Amandine_Alessandra-OLD_OAK

My favourite room in the building is the English pub, which has a very characteristic blue paint on its walls. How do you choose a colour?

I think is instinct. Some colours work and others don’t. Maybe I’m simplifying it a lot, but that is how I feel.
For example, I usually hate green and can’t really envision it working in a space. On the contrary, if I am in doubt or need a safe option, I go for grey. It always works.

When you pick a colour for a room, do you have already a style in mind? How do you start?

I wouldn’t say that I start with the style, but with the idea of the space.
I like to think of a central concept and from that point everything is very easy. For Old Oak this has been very helpful as every space had a specific theme, so I worked around them. Basically, I try to envision the idea and then I choose the colours, the furniture…

Which has been the most difficult room to dress?

The Games room. The space had a strong character of its own and resisted a bit when trying to come to terms with the interior design project. In the end, we managed to understand what the space needed and what was the best solution to it.
Alexandra_Malouta_Amandine_Alessandra-3

Is there any object that you would die to use in any future project?

I don’t have a specific object, but I like to use things that are not meant to be in interiors. I have this idea that I would love to do at some point, of using giant things to dress a room or put a boat in the middle of a space. Awkward things that would confuse people a bit and make them see the space in a different way.

As an interior designer, what do you miss from architecture?

They are very different fields and, at the same time, very similar. Being an interior architect has given me the opportunity to learn much more things on site than when I worked in an architecture studio. Sometimes, what I really miss is the scale of things. Interior design forces you to focus on details, whilst architecture gives a more general vision of things.

How do you choose a colour?

It’s instinctive. Some colours work and others don’t. Maybe I’m simplifying it a lot, but that’s how I feel. For example, I usually hate green and can’t really envision it working in a space. On the contrary, if I am in doubt or need a safe option, I go for grey. It always works.

Alexandra_Malouta_Amandine_Alessandra-5

When you pick a colour for a room, do you have already a style in mind? How do you start?

I wouldn’t say that I start with the style, but with the idea of the space. I like to think of a central concept and from that point everything is very easy. For Old Oak this has been very helpful as every space had a specific theme, so I worked around them. Basically, I try to envision the idea and then I choose the colours, the furniture…

Which has been the most difficult room to dress?

Games room. The space had a strong character of its own and resisted a bit when trying to come to terms with the interior design project. In the end, we managed to understand what the space needed and what was the best solution to it.

Is there any object that you would die to use in any future project?

I don’t have a specific object, but I like to use things that are not meant to be in interiors. I have this idea that I would love to do at some point, of using giant things to dress a room or put a boat in the middle of a space. Awkward things that would confuse people a bit and make them see the space in a different way.
Alexandra_Malouta_Amandine_Alessandra-6

As an interior designer, what do you miss from architecture?

They are very different fields and, at the same time, very similar. Being an interior architect has given me the opportunity to learn much more things on site than when I worked in an architecture studio. Sometimes, what I really miss is the scale of things. Interior design forces you to focus on details, whilst architecture gives a more general vision of things.

Something different

Elite_event_TheInteriorPhotographer_6

Last weekend I was invited by chic online collective PAD Lifestyle to visit them at luxury lifestyle showcase Elite London at the Rizon-Jet Biggin Hill airport. Private jets and classic vintage cars are not quite my usual gig but it felt a bit like a holiday away from it all — I salute you reader who knows what half-term means — and if you follow me on Instagram and Twitter you’ll have noticed that I’m a sucker for design fairs.
PodLifestyle_TheInteriorPhotographer_2

Based in Edinburgh, PAD sources and curates home and fashion brands from around the world; more recently they’ve also started providing a consultancy service for interiors projects, with success. It was hard to believe how much they had managed to fit in this island of textures and cosiness in the middle of an otherwise particularly polished, on the verge of cold, showcase, as you’d expect from a luxury display in an airport.

In their small but super chic living room you could try to resist stroking Bloomingville Tibetan lambskin cushions resting on Jonathan Adler grey Herringbone peruvian rug and Milano Wingback chairs (PAD is the UK official retailer for Jonathan Adler), smell a Tom Dixon Air scent candle or a Neom Happiness diffuser, chuckle at tongue-in-cheek Pols Potten ceramics bringing touches of humour to the display, like the Hiding Lady lamp (even the shade is made of fine white porcelain!) or the Undressed tea set, designed by Esther Hörchner. Can’t wait for a chance to use some of these as props in a shoot sometimes soon.

www.padlifestyle.com

8 things to remember from Clerkenwell Design Week 2016

As every year, I took on a tour of Clerkenwell Design Week, snapping and posting on the way. Here are the 8 encounters I will remember from the 2016 edition:

1. Vassana
Vassana from the SACICT collective as featured by the British Council

Vassal from the SACICT collective as featured by the British Council

Vassana was one of the Designers-Makers presented by the British Council and SACICT (Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand) in the Additions Pavilion

2. Poliform UK: Let’s be Royal

Matelasse-Gibson quilted velvet. MAD by Poliform UK

Loved Poliform‘s Matelassé-Gibson quilted velvet edition of Marcel Wanders’s Mad King, Mad Queen and Mad Joker, and in particular how the texture bounced off the rare light at the Church of the Order of St John, where it was displayed.

3. Tom Dixon

Tom Dixon at The Church

Tom Dixon at The Church

Tom Dixon showed his new thin-sheet etched metal lighting collections in the moodiest, most atmospheric display at St James’ 17th Century Church.

4. Melina Xenaki

Planters with balconies by RCA graduate Melina Xenaki

RCA Graduate ceramicist Melina Xenaki’s creates planters inspired by architectural elements of the Cyclades.

5. Forest + Found

Forest and Found

Forest and found natural dyeing

Maybe my favorite discovery this year: Forest + Found, a sustainable craft and design partnership set up by Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth. Carving, natural dyeing and hand stitching from wood and dye plants sourced in Epping Forest amongst others.

6. Cane Line
7. Havwoods

Havwoods

Cane Line champagne bar and outdoor furniture in the garden of the Church of the Order of St. John (left) and Havwoods presenting their wood flooring collection in a Routemaster.

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