Collaborations with Burberry, the Royal Academy, Berry Bros & Rudd and Samsung make the CV of Luke Edward Hall look exceptionally strong for a 29-year-old. But the interior designer and illustrator’s distinctive style (think Picasso’s pottery meets ‘Brideshead Revisited’) has made him an Instagram hit, with more than 50,000 followers. In 2017, the Swedish interior architect Martin Brudnizki commissioned Hall to create 50 artworks for London hotel The Bloomsbury. Hall will stage a solo exhibition at the Alex Eagle Studio clothing store in the UK capital later this year.
Why did you choose interior design and illustration?
I studied menswear fashion design at [London college] Central Saint Martins, but on the side I sold antiques. I worked at The Vyne, a National Trust house in Hampshire [south-east England] on Sundays as a teenager and that was what sparked an interest in old houses and interiors. I set up a website with friends and our first customer was the interior designer Ben Pentreath. When I graduated, I went to work for Ben. I set up my own studio in 2015. It wasn’t a conscious decision to move into interiors — it just happened.
How would you characterise your style? How do you feel that it developed?
I’m a big fan of ancient Rome and Greece — all that architecture, art, myths and legends. Colour is a huge part of what I do. My style is playful, romantic, a little nostalgic. I’ve always been very colourful, but by looking at past projects I can see how my style has evolved — and still is evolving because I’m always looking at new references. I’m into ancient Egypt and Egyptomania at the moment, but next week it could be 1980s pop music or the novels of Virginia Woolf.
Name your top three influences.
I’m inspired by [writers and artists circle] the Bloomsbury Group’s ethos and aesthetic, [photographer] Cecil Beaton and [poet and artist] Jean Cocteau. Because of what I do and my approach, I’m drawn to people who have worked across many disciplines.
What has been your favourite project?
It’s hard to choose. My favourite recent project is the collaboration I’ve done with Le Sirenuse, a hotel in Positano on Italy’s Amalfi coast, and its shop, Emporio Sirenuse. We’ve made ceramics, swimming shorts, pyjama shirts and stationery for the hotel. On the other hand, I’m working on a solo exhibition of drawings and paintings at the moment and it’s exciting because there is no client, only me!
If you weren’t allowed, who would design a room for you?
The American decorator Miles Redd — I love his work. Redd was one of the first interior designers that I discovered and one of the few I really fell for. He’s brilliant at mixing furniture from different periods and different kinds of patterns.
Is there anyone in your field that you particularly admire?
I’m a big fan of Beata Heuman and Rachel Chudley. They are both friends. Rachel is talented at incorporating artwork into rooms and creating dramatic spaces. Beata’s spaces feel lived-in and she’s great with antiques, yet her rooms always feel strikingly contemporary.
What is the one object you would never allow in your home?
What do you look for in a client?
If I’m working on a collaboration, I need to feel a real connection with the client and product. For example, I recently created a small range of tablecloths and embroidered napkins with a London-based company called Summerill & Bishop, which produces hand-painted linens in Italy. They’re such beautiful objects, and I love cooking and entertaining, so the collaboration seemed very natural.
Where, for you, does fashion end and interior design start, or are they enmeshed?
For me, it’s just about style. What I wear is as interesting to me as what I have in my home. It’s the same things that excite me: colour, pattern, playfulness. Fashion and interiors seem to constantly borrow from each other — that’s why it didn’t seem strange for me to start working for an interior designer after studying fashion at university.
What is your advice for combining colour and pattern in interiors?
Getting the contrast right is key. Mismatch large-scale patterns with small ones, dark colours with lighter ones. Have a large-scale pattern on your cushions and a smaller one on your curtains. Paint a room olive green and do the curtains in pale pink, or keep walls white and paint the floor post box red. It’s all about balance.
Which are your favourite haunts for finding decorative pieces?
I love spending a morning traipsing up and down Pimlico Road in [London’s] Belgravia. I’ll stop at Howe, Soane Britain and Jamb, and Robert Kime in nearby Ebury Street. Pentreath & Hall in Bloomsbury is always stuffed with lovely antiques and decorative bits. And at any given moment I’m usually watching at least a few things on eBay too.
What do you see as the overriding trend in your field at the moment (even if you don’t subscribe to it)?
People keep talking about maximalism, and that’s great to hear because that’s my kind of style — layers and layers of pattern and colour. I think that, because the world can be grim at times, people want a bit of escapism, and maximalism can provide that fantasy. It’s a “look” to get swept up in. That said, I don’t pay much attention to trends. I believe in enjoying what you like. Even maximalism is not really a trend, is it? It’s about collecting lovely things and not being boring.
Photographs: Luke Edward Hall