Me And My Home: A very singular success

Designer Philip Hooper tells Joey Canessa how he created an idyllic base strictly for one person - himself
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The Independent Online

Philip Hooper, an interior design director for Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, spends his week nights in a one-bedroom pied-à-terre in Battersea, south-west London.

Philip Hooper, an interior design director for Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, spends his week nights in a one-bedroom pied-à-terre in Battersea, south-west London.

I bought this flat in 2001. As I work in London but prefer to live out of town, I need a base here. At the time, I lived on a canal boat in Regent's Park, but I was tiring of my floating home and the idea of something more solid was appealing. The flat that I chose was sold as a shell. The company responsible for the development had converted a number of old schools in the area and this was one of the very last to be made available, so I had to commit myself without delay.

As a space in London, the flat was, in essence, an opportunity to use myself as a guinea pig. Being in the business of designing houses for other people, I am rarely at liberty to try out too many new ideas on unsuspecting clients. This was the perfect opportunity to experiment as I liked. My interest was to create an essentially modernist space, in architectural terms, but to treat it in a painterly way, using colour rather than the obvious monotone to emphasise the quality of the interior space and to act as a foil for the contemporary pictures that I like to collect.

The flat has been designed incredibly subjectively - it's really only suitable for one person to live in. Basically, it's one room and almost entirely open-plan - even the bathroom doesn't have a door.

When I bought the flat, it consisted of a large, empty room with three huge windows, a staircase and a mezzanine. The construction of the interior has almost been an exercise in joinery. The walls are made from sheet panels of MDF, creating internal partitions that offer different views depending on your perspective.

Many things in the flat are from Gallery 25 in Pimlico Road. I'm very fond of my Ico Parisi chair. It is prototype of a design that didn't make it to production, so it's unique. It has a carved, sculptural seat and back which are articulated so that they slide in a rather unusual way. It's a kind of mechanical wooden sculpture.

The ceramic sculpture on the leather plinth is called Gibbet and it was created by Richard Slee, a contemporary ceramicist. His work often juxtaposes things in a quirky and unexpected way - here, the elements of a landscape, such as bushes and trees, have evolved to take the form of a gibbet. It's an expression of the dark side of nature - the twisting of the bucolic ideal into something more sinister. The desk itself is early 1950s, made of glass, vinyl and walnut, and looks like something from the set of Stingray. I feel like Troy Tempest when I sit down to work.

The daybed is upholstered in a Colefax & Fowler cut velvet, and the curtain fabric is from the Manuel Canovas Cotton Club range, also from Colefax. The kitchen cupboards are actually from Ikea. Basically, they're well constructed cabinets and I have embellished them with my choice of handles, splashbacks and worktops. The cupboards are veneered in blonde maple. The worktops are green slate and the splashbacks are green glass mosaic. All my appliances are Siemens.

The staircase is in a slot hidden behind two walls, one painted and one wallpapered. I adore this wallpaper. It is called Pomme jeune, from Mauny, in Paris, and I had been waiting for the right opportunity to make use of it for some time. It formed the starting point for the design of the stairs. The treads of the stairs are covered in wool tatami, a woven carpet from Indonesia, supplied by Sinclair Till, in Wandsworth Road, SW8. There are marine lamps sunken into the treads to help you to find your way.

The room that I'm most pleased with is the bathroom. It forms a link between the bedroom and the library area of the mezzanine. It has worked well as an internal space - a lot has been crammed into a small area. The finishes work well - the slate on the walls came from Stonell, in Battersea Park Road, and the Bebinge floor was from the Hardwood Flooring Company, on the south side of Wandsworth Bridge. I also used that for the sides of the bath and the wall where the basin hangs. The Tara taps are by Dornbracht, a modern interpretation of a classic cross-head tap, and elegantly simple. Mine are from Germany, but similar taps are available from Aston Matthews, in Islington. I love the mirror in here - it's a circular, illuminated halo. The light shines through the frosted glass, which is incredibly beautiful. The only drawback seems to be that it produces rather a weird "Marilyn Manson" effect upon your pupils.

Above my sofa hangs a landscape by the painter Tom Hannick. I bought it directly from him. His work is available from the Hales Gallery, an avant-garde place in Shoreditch. It's a beautiful seascape which I find has a remarkably calming effect - very soothing after a frantic day in town.

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