My Home: Zandra Rhodes, fashion designer

There's no room for wishy-washy minimalism in the south London home of fashion designer Zandra Rhodes
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The Independent Online

The fashion designer Zandra Rhodes lives and works from her home at the Fashion Museum in Bermondsey.

he inspiration for the design of my home came from California. I was in San Diego with my partner, Sal, who I live together with part of the year. While I was there we paid a visit to his lawyer's house, which left me utterly amazed. His home was incredibly beautiful. Everything was brightly coloured and open-plan with lots of glass. It had been designed by the Mexican architect Riccardo Legorreta. I knew instantly that he was the man I wanted to design my home.

Mine is now the only house Riccardo has ever designed in Europe, and it's recently been nominated for a civic award. It stands out a mile, since it is bright pink (my trademark colour) in a very grey traditional London street.

When I bought my house in 1995, I had to sell all my other properties to finance it. At the time, I had my home in Notting Hill - where I had lived for more than 20 years - my factory in Hammersmith and my office building in Paddington. But since my new building was a former cash-and-carry warehouse over five floors, it was big enough to accommodate me.

When my staff and I moved in, we had a terribly hand-to-mouth existence. As it had previously been a warehouse, it took a long time to renovate. Initially, I didn't have much money to do the work I wanted to. Instead we had to adapt: the old gents' toilets became a makeshift laundry, and the ladies' became our bathroom.

The first thing I did was to paint the interior all the colours of the rainbow. I went around with a chalk and marked where each colour should go. The next step was moving in my beloved artworks. I have a number of paintings by Dougie Fields, and as my penthouse and living quarters are at the very top of the house, I had to get them hoisted up by a crane. I also have a collection of ceramics by Kate Malone and Carol McNicol, which are hung around the house.

Gradually it has taken shape, but there is still a great deal to do and it is really still a work in progress. My favourite room is the penthouse. The views are amazing: I can see London Bridge, Norman Foster's Gherkin and, on a good day, the whole of the east London skyline. The top floors have wonderful light and when I am away, a friend often uses the space to teach yoga classes: it's an ideal place for worshipping the sun.

I love my home, mainly because I'm surrounded by beautiful objects, many of which are by friends, and others which are pieces I have designed myself. One of my favourite pieces is a table I designed in 1969 when I was teaching. It is made of Perspex and has little Zs hanging from the edges.

I love entertaining, and cooking is the one thing that relaxes me and enables me to switch off from my work completely. Upstairs, next to the kitchen, I have a large leather banquette; it's a very sociable area. I recently threw a 60th birthday party for the jewellery designer Andrew Logan, and had 40 people over for dinner, which was great fun. Andrew has designed many pieces in my home, including a fabulous golden throne and a glass chandelier with Z-shaped droplets cascading down from it. He has such a bold style, which I love.

Living and working in the same space does have advantages, but the most obvious problem is that you can never really escape. One place where I find it very easy to relax in the summer is my garden.

It's a really beautiful suntrap, with 40-year-old camellias which I moved from my garden in Notting Hill. I also have a huge polystyrene gold Buddha that was given to me after a party at Aspinalls. I love fresh flowers, but I am not here often enough to ensure that they are changed frequently, so I have to rely upon the dried option.

If I could have any luxury for my home, it would be to have more time and labour. Everything is unfinished. If someone came to me and said, "You can have these three very intelligent builders, who will do any work you like for the next six months - and for free," then I might actually be able to get my house finished. Even my bedroom is unfinished. It is painted with the most beautiful flowers: I printed huge lilac and pink roses on to a silk screen and transferred them on to the walls.

What I love most about my home is the light and space, as well as the fact that I have had a free rein in the design and the colour. I could never live in a plain white house; colour inspires me. It's also a wonderful luxury to have my own living fashion museum downstairs. My only worry is that there will never be enough time for me to complete my house. I am a perfectionist, and everything always takes more time when you demand perfection. But I will get there in the end.

The Fashion and Textile Museum, Bermondsey St, London SE1 (020-7407 8664)

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