House of Grey
Louisa Grey on art, design and AN holistic Approach to INTERIORS
“For me life isn’t about material objects. I choose to practice non attachment to ‘things’ and place importance on attributes and principles that inform and elevate us. Something that has intrinsic meaning and value to me is a sense of thinking out of the box and a positive perspective on what we can do in life.” - Louisa Grey
At London-based interiors firm House of Grey the focus is on enhancing not only aesthetic but wellbeing, designing spaces which complement people’s intuitive way of working and living, evolving around them as their needs change over time. I caught up with founder, Louisa Grey, at her North London studio, where she’s created a sensory space for clients and collaborators to experience not only her pared back design aesthetic, but how each and every day she lives her design principles. “We believe simplicity, calm and warmth can be energising, motivating and nurturing in a workspace,” explains Louisa, “So we’ve put this into practice at our new studio and showroom.” A small close-knit team, at House of Grey the focus is on “simplistic elegance”, or rather a natural progressive aesthetic, creating spaces that work as efficiently as possible; there’s nothing that isn’t either wanted or needed. When working with clients, the emphasis is on acquiring individual pieces, evoking wellness, rather than disorientation and creating a personalized sanctuary. Grey is known for her strong sense of placement within interiors, using tactile materials against cool backdrops. Over the years she’s collaborated with the likes of Loewe, Carl Hansen and Elle Decor, amongst others, developing a personal philosophy while embedded in the creative process. With a background in in textile design and a degree from the Chelsea College of Arts, she has a tendency to experiment with materials — rough and distressed — ensuring her unique, minimal aesthetic keeps her one step ahead of the pack.
Louisa Grey: I was fortunate enough to grow up in Cambridge which is an extremely creative city. My parents have a inspired circle of friends, who were all working within the interiors industry. I began as an assistant to a designer, and then embraced it as a career. My design work has derived from my desire to create calm, quiet understated luxury interiors. With an emphasis on elegant simplicity, our aesthetic is natural yet progressive. I believe that many people, myself included, are increasingly overwhelmed by life and overloaded with visual stimulation. In response, the minimal aesthetic is one I’m particularly drawn too.
Who’s the person that most inspires you?
I respect the idea that we learn from our elders. I’ve always seen my parents as my mentors. They’re incredibly creative inspiring people and have always encouraged me to think differently and see my dyslexia as a strength. My father was an architect and builder. I would watch in awe whilst he spent time crafting buildings and spaces into well thought out beauty. His eye for detail and craftsmanship are elements I’ve learnt and use in my work today. My mother, also working in the creative industry, was a successful knitwear designer; I watched her juggle being a business woman and a mother, and that impacted me positively.
Where’s the most unforgettable place you’ve traveled?
Tokyo was really wonderful! It’s so quiet, clean and organised. I could have stayed for longer and loved that such a modern city is built on the impeded principles so deeply rooted in Japanese tradition and value. I generally work on the overall concepts of inspiration I’ve found on my travels; there are many cities that could learn from the advanced processes the Japanese have implemented.
What’s the best souvenir you’ve bought home?
For me object’s brought home from travel, however beautiful, are never as special as the memories that are created. Souvenir comes from the French for a remembrance or memory, and taking time away from our everyday to create memories with friends and family is something I place intrinsic value on.
If you had to limit your shopping to one neighbourhood, in one city, which would you choose?
I love shopping in Scandinavian cities especially Copenhagen and Stockholm. In Stockholm there are so many places to source wonderful vintage items.
Tell us about a recent “find” ?
The Francis gallery in Bath is a beautiful gallery that opened in September. The founder, Rosa Parks, is a friend and a true inspiration; she follows her dreams and makes them happen which I truly admire. It curate’s a variety of works including ceramic sculptures, paintings, antiques and furniture by emerging artists. The gallery is inspired and informed by Korean aesthetics and creates a calm atmosphere to really experience and take in the art work. Francis gallery, 3 Fountain Buildings, Bath (+44(0)1225 443220; www.francisgallery.co).
Which artist would you collect if you could?
Ceramics by Lucie Rie and woven pieces by Annie Albers. I’m forever inspired by the simple forms and natural materials used in Rie’s work along with the marriage of the age-old craft of hand-weaving which reflects me back to my weaving days at Chelsea College of Arts. I have a full appreciation of the craft and thought process that is applied to be able to create these wonderful works of art.
An object you would never part with?
For me life isn’t about material objects. I choose to practice non attachment to “things” and place importance on attributes and principles that inform and elevate us. Something that has intrinsic meaning and value to me is a sense of thinking out of the box and a positive perspective on what we can do in life.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Time and How to Spend It by James Wallman and Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes are both books that I’ve read that I found thought provoking. However, I most regularly choose to listen to podcasts and audio books in the car. A favourite of mine is an episode from the Ezra Klien Show about “Workism”. It discusses work as an identity, burnout as a lifestyle choice and how you choose to manage your time; something that I challenge through our studio work ethics.
What’s your favorite room in your house?
It’s the bathroom, I find space to breathe and set my intentions for the day with my morning bath. We designed it in house to allow you to move easily from sleep to the bath and to the dressing room which is adjacent.
What was the last thing you bought and loved?
I recently bought a citrine crystal. It’s a stone that stimulates manifestation and your imagination. It’s thought to carry the power of the sun; I find it warm, reassuring and it acts as a reminder to always think into my consciousness of what I most truly would like in my life.
What’s your biggest indulgence?
Spending time on myself. Even if it is just 15 minutes a day, taking time to focus solely on yourself and clear your mind is the most indulgent thing someone can do for themselves. This can come in many forms from taking a bath to meditation, but the desired end result is balance. Balance around us, inspires balance within us.
What’s the best gift you’ve been given?
After a challenging time conceiving him, my son is by far the best gift I’ve been given. He’s a constant reminder to connect with my inner child and to slow down in life. Having him has only highlighted the need to take more consideration in the choices I make in life, which in turn has brought me more contentment and balance.
The site that most inspires you?
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, once the home of Jim Ede, a curator at the Tate Gallery, has always had space in my creative process as I spent many years there during my art foundation drawing. It’s important to be able to find stillness in a space, so you can connect with it. Kettle’s Yard, Castle Street (+44 (0)1223 748 100; www.kettlesyard.co.uk)
Something you have your eye on?
An oversized quartz crystal is on the wish list for the studio. They’re thought to stimulate energy flow and bring bring balance to the body. I find the wonderful light they throw around to be wonderfully calming, which is the work environment we promote at House of Grey.
What would you do if you weren’t working in interiors?
Pottery is a huge love of mine, and I’ve been practicing for several years now. I’m currently making a set of bowls in a lava clay. It’s my non commercial escapism. I create free flowing with no client in mind but just what I love; the thought process is totally freeing. I’ve always thrived when making things and working with raw materials. From a young age I had my own toolkit, and this allowed me to help my dad build and I learnt from his craftsmanship. I trained in weaving, working with multiple textures and natural yarns, and this provided me with the skills of being super patient. Days of threading a loom can be taxing but you develop mental tools which I’m now discovering to be invaluable.
It’s a very inspiring time for us in the studio right now. We have a collection of projects and collaborations that we’re currently working on. As a studio we think laterally and take a view on what we believe to be important to us, this encourages us to expand our ideas and create innovative new projects for us to work towards.