Introducing artist and designer wunderkind Luke Edward Hall, keen as mustard for colours, prints and textures. Step inside the magical home he shares with partner Duncan Campbell, where English country meets European decadence – with a touch of whimsy.
From the outside, the artist and designer Luke Edward Hall’s north London apartment is indistinguishable from any other Victorian townhouse. The little park across the street isn’t particularly verdant, and the pram just inside the communal entrance hall is remarkable only in how very normal it is. But entering this one-bedroom flat – which he shares with his partner Duncan Campbell, head of creative consultancy Campbell-Rey – is another story altogether. Each room boasts a rainbow of hues from top to tail. Emerald tiling winks at you from the spacious wall-papered bathroom. Gem-toned velvet sofas sing a siren’s song as you enter the living room. And leopard-print carpet in the bedroom feels at once shockingly garish and exceptionally perfect. This is, indeed, a special home.
Hall – not yet 30 – gives off an air of aristocratic insouciance, but his decisive choices have led him to success. He grew up in Basingstoke and, after secondary school, applied to just one university – Central Saint Martins, bien sûr – and was accepted to study menswear fashion design. Having met Campbell, they started an online antiques business, along with another friend, called Fox and Flyte. Upon graduation, Hall worked for an interior designer, but decided to set up his own studio in 2015 after receiving several illustration commissions. "My path has been very winding," he says, succinctly. In the past few years, he’s collaborated with Burberry and Christie’s, his artwork has been hung in several hotels, and his illustrations have made their way onto shoes, polo shirts and cushions. He’s even designed a biscuit for the Royal Academy. British GQ named him the "young designer to watch" in 2017 and Vogue labelled him a "wunderkind" in an interview in 2016.
All that is why, on this dreary midwinter morning, I’ve made my way deep into darkest Camden. I’m welcomed into Hall’s cheery yellow foyer by the aforementioned wunderkind, who, on this day, is wearing what he will later describe as a "house outfit" – crisp oxblood trousers, a periwinkle crewneck sweater and matching pale blue socks. As he leads me to the sitting room, I make a mental note of colours: marbled greenish wallpaper in the bedroom, flamingo pink on the living room walls and every shade arrayed on the coffee table in the form of books and objects. I’m told that the lovely, but perhaps a tad ordinary, white kitchen will soon be refitted with cobalt cabinetry. Entering this flat from the grey London day, I feel much the same, I imagine, as Dorothy did when she alighted in the Land of Oz from Kansas.
Why is there so much colour in here, I ask? Hall thinks about this for a moment. (He comes across as a naturally reserved man.) "I just love colour," he eventually says. "The world can be so grim, why wouldn’t you want to live life in full colour?" Too right, I think. "It’s happy-making, I believe. It’s about optimism. When I come home to my bright yellow hallway at the end of a long day, my spirits are instantly lifted."
"The world can be so grim, why wouldn’t you want to live life in full colour?"Luke Edward Hall
Hall serves me tea in a kitschy-chic cabbage-leaf cup. He hesitates before he hands it to me, eyeing the coffee table (which Campbell designed) and its many inhabitants – art books and a veritable vegetable patch made up of a ceramic asparagus, a metal pepper, glass greens from Venice and at least five (recently acquired) tiny terracotta pots filled with baby plants. A coaster materialises from a kitchen cabinet and he apologises for the lack of clear surfaces, explaining sheepishly that they’ve recently gone a little crazy for houseplants. In fact, there’s a large leafy item near the window that seems to have mated with a floor lamp. The effect, like the rest of home, is enchanting.
All of this colour, this personality, could easily be too much. But the magic of Hall’s home is that it works. Everything hangs together in a way that feels at once purposeful and nonchalant – the work of many years just thrown together. "We try not to take it too seriously," says Hall when asked of his design ethos. "Our flat has never really been an interior-design project – it’s where we live and it’s evolved over time." Nonetheless, it’s listed on his website under 'projects' and it does, indeed, feel like a living, breathing thing. Certain important pieces seem integral to the space (a fish-shaped lamp, a Fontana Arte peach-and-cobalt mirror, a mini replica of the Memphis-designed Carlton bookcase), but the bones aren’t precious. When a piece has overstayed its welcome, they move it to one of their studios. In fact, as we sit, Hall’s eyes slide repeatedly to a fantastic Bauhaus-y metal chair slung with pale patinaed leather. This chair’s days in Camden are numbered – Hall and Campbell have grown tired of it. A little despairingly, I ask where it will go. I’m reassured that it will find a good home.
The flat overflows with the beautiful detritus of young lives well and creatively lived, evidence of past projects and collaborations, and trinkets picked up on the road. Two antique wooden chairs have had their seats upholstered in a fabric of Hall’s own design. We’re both reclining on patterned pillows that bear his name. A smart drinks table is adorned with his signature brushstroke painting style.
It’s a mix of classic English country and European decadence. Or as Hall puts it: "Duncan is probably a bit more mid-century Italian, and I’m a bit more Bloomsbury Group meets the 1970s." This dichotomy is constantly in play. The couple love travelling to Venice, but are on the hunt for a country home near London – the top contender right now is a carriage house with a quirky two-building layout. They’re excited by the opportunity to transform a challenging space. But when I ask Hall what his ideal project would be, he’s quick to answer: "A hotel! I’d love to work on the interior of a hotel, and I’d love to art direct the experience. I’d think about the concept as a whole – the interiors, but also the food, the staff uniforms, the music, the stationery." Why? "Because I love hotels. I love the idea of stepping into a good hotel and leaving the ordinary world behind."
"Our flat has never really been an interior-design project – it’s where we live and it’s evolved over time."Luke Edward Hall
Later, re-emerging onto the London streets, I realise that the Hall-Campbell abode is essentially practice for this, a staging area for bigger projects to come. His passion for vibrant interiors is catching. I’ve just stepped out of their art-directed experience, back into the everyday world, and I already miss the colour.
By Lili Göksenin