Design & Decoration S01 ep4: Anouska Hempel, Hempel Design, [London]
Interview with Anouska
I thought if you could dress a 4 poster bed, you could probably sort of have more fun with something that moved around a bit. It is part of a lifestyle and architectural lifestyle is something that I am really all about, at the end of the day without realising. It has something to do with fashion, food, gardens, it is a mixture of what your life it about.
Interviewer: What is Anouska Hempel?
A figment of my imagination, is what I am, hopping around from the Antipodes,
doing what I am doing, living in London, and having a wonderful time.
Interviewer: What was the first step which led you to these steps which we
know you as fashion designer, interior designer, designer?
Oh, I think that came from the very early days of being in the antique world at
the age of 18, and to transfer that little bit of learning very quickly into buying
and selling, meant that I became a dealer.
Interviewer: When did you fall into fashion?
Twelve years ago now. I thought if you could dress a 4 poster bed, you could
probably sort of have more fun with something that moved around a bit. It is
part of a life style and architectural life style is something that I am really all
about, at the end of the day without realising. And it is something to do with
fashion, it is to do with a statement of food, it is to do about gardens, it is to do
with a mixture of what your life’s about.
Interviewer: When you walk into a space, or when you think about a woman’s
body what are you trying to achieve?
I think with one’s own magic and imagination you are looking to enhance the
person or the premises or the position or the whatever it is, belonging to a kind
of a product, but not an obvious product, like not like a label thing. But the
luxury of being able to be, I am afraid to say, in a funny kind of way,
recognised, and that is the luxury briefing of the world sadly.
Interviewer: The French and the Italians have really gone on and done that in
a big way, the English, on the other hand, are not as convinced of the concept
of branding why is that?
I don’t think that the English realise what they have got to be branded, until
everybody comes here and steals it and by then it is too late. Now the
interesting thing for me, having worked for Louis Vuitton, is that I am now
working for Van Cleef and Arpels, there is somewhere where that slightly lower
key sort of register has come into another world. Maybe I have taken a bit
longer about doing it, but I’m in the world that I really love - designing pens and
hinges is the same as handles and beds. It is all the same to me.
Interviewer: Why did you get that commission?
I have no idea. I did what I thought was right for the branding, for the image.
We came down and picked up a little bit of the spirit of the young orientalism
and mixed with a very, very sedate strong essence of Van Cleef. Just to give it
enough of a stir and buzz to make it something that takes it into the future, and
I love that sort of thing.
Interviewer: What about Louis Vuitton how did that happen?
I don’t know. I think I’ve been collecting Louis Vuitton for a 100 years. It was
the first bit of furniture I ever had, and I think that the spirit of travel is part of
what Blakes [Hotel] is about. It is an eclectic mix of what’s come in from
wherever, on those days where I gathered up everything that I could find that
was different, so I put it all in one place. That is part of my life and creativity of
the early days.
Interviewer: What else do you do, because clearly you are up to a lot of
Lots of houses worldwide and gardens. My life is so schizophrenic so I have
thousands of personalities.
Interviewer: But there must be one definitive personality?
No, I pull them out of a hat depending on where I am, whichever one belongs
to that environment, and who I am working with and what the brief is. To do
what we are doing we have 14 architects on board, plus the couture house. I
have a lot of very talented, very extraordinary young things with me, on
everything I do.
For a personal or private client, I like someone who says they want a total
lifestyle. They like this of mine, they hate that, they like that of someone else’s,
whatever. And tell me, "Go and do it, see you next year". They are part of it
when they take over because they go mess it up and that is fun as well. And
that does not matter. You see what you do is provide a background for people
who really trust you.
Interviewer: What is different about Retail?
Retail space is very interesting, because retail space means you have to have
your eye on the product. As an architect and as a designer, I know you have to
keep your customers eyes down, you must keep your customers eyes to there
(chest level). You have to take the whole of the imagery and the architecture
up and over the top without being threatening in any kind of way. You deal with
the space as if you are not dealing with the person coming in to buy. You are
dealing with the space in a much more subtle way but basically deep down that
turnover has got to be there, that has got to happen and there are ways very
subtly of arranging that within your space, not letting the customer know that
you are doing it.
Having had my own tiny business, one small store and actually having to clean
silver on a Saturday morning and buy it down the road for 3 pounds and selling
it for 300, I think I’ve been in the luxury business all my life.
Taste is going to be something that is just a worldwide acceptance of
something. Its not going to be so eclectic or egocentric. It is going to be
something that is going to be a brief. There are very few places in the world
that we can go that someone hasn’t seen before and the thing of discovery is
not around like it used to be. Everything is available and our world is now
available to all of us.
You try by not even thinking about how to do it. You just go out and do it.
Interviewer: How do you do it?
I have no idea, but whatever I do, I work hard, I have an imagination that is
extraordinary I think.
I’m a bit odd and somehow within that oddity and that sort of eccentricity of my
own I also have the other side of me which is very pragmatic and somehow at
times when I think "God I’m bereft of it’ I never am - somehow it happens - you
can’t put your finger on that, you can’t buy that, it is just how it is. I don’t think I
have achieved what I even half started out to achieve at this stage. I think I still
just sitting on the brink of something.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Anouska Hampel, Hempel Design, London