Graham Hollick has just come back from Nepal; he's working on a humanitarian project that encourages women's groups there, and in India, to make money through embroidering textiles. It's obviously a worthy initiative, but a quick glance at his home tells you this must be a cause close to Hollick's aesthetic heart too. He acknowledges the influence on his style, commenting that he "loves India" – a passion reflected in the masks and puppets that stride above his fireplace or adorn his walls.
Yet he also has a magpie-like approach, ever on the lookout – when asked if the framed pairs of Indian masks on the wall are a recent purchase from his travels, he reveals that they hail, in fact, from Camden market: they are taken from a book of children's masks he picked up there one day. And Hollick is as much shaped by the flea-market traditions of France as he is English jumble sales or Asian street markets .
"I lived in Paris for about 10 years so there's a big French flea-market influence," he explains. "Because I do a lot of styling work I'm always picking up things, at flea markets and second-hand shops, and when I'm travelling."
A creative director, Hollick works on diverse projects – from styling catalogues for the likes of The Conran Shop, Laura Ashley and Swarovski, to costume and set design for the theatre company Chicken Shed, to developing a range of high-end Indian fabrics used by fashion houses including Kenzo, Dries van Noten and Georgina von Etzdorf.
Some of the pieces he creates professionally wind up in his own home – that neon "yellow" sign was "something I did for an exhibition for a trade fair years ago". While it might appear at odds with the general rustic vibe, Hollick likes unusual juxtapositions: "I like change – I'll have some things up for only a couple of months and then swap them around. Eclectic would be my inspiration, really."
His travels also allow him to indulge his collector's habit – Hollick now owns quite an army of cheerily painted egg-cups. He has strict rules for his collection, though: they must be wooden, and they must have a face. These restrictions clearly make the acquisition of a new item all the sweeter: "They are quite hard to find but not impossible – I have about 40 or 50 now. The egg cups are something I've been collecting for 15 years."
Hollick is also unafraid to take a hands-on approach in getting his home just how he likes it. He created the distinctive blue shade used on the walls of the hallway: "That kind of Moroccan blue, I mixed myself – I think they call it milk paint, and you add pigment to it, so I did a mix of several different blues."
Hollick lives in Dalston, in north-east London, an area which has become known as the home of hipsters and young creative types. But Hollick is a Dalston old-timer – he's lived there for 14 years and seems a little ambivalent about the recent swarms of people moving to his neighbourhood in the past few years.
"It's changed massively – it was a bit rough round the edges, but it's just had the most incredible transformation," he says. "I've started to feel very old! The whole street is full of young trendy people. You wonder if people think you've moved in with them – but you can't exactly wear a badge saying 'I was here before...'"