This super stylish apartment in Television Centre is the product of a collaboration between Bella Freud and Retrouvius’ Maria Speake. HOME admires it.
Words Pendle Harte
“Their inspiration came from cinema, the 1970s and porn – and the result is glamorous, retro and colourful”
There’s something intriguingly atmospheric about the Television Centre flats. Windows in the circular Helios building face inwards, allowing residents to look into each other’s rooms in a Rear Window-esque way, which of course gives the site excellent cinematic potential. This slightly surreal element is put to brilliantly stylish effect by Bella Freud, who together with Retrouvius’s Maria Speake has devised a complete interior for the penthouse apartment. Their inspiration for it came from cinema, the 1970s and porn – and the result is glamorous, retro and colourful.
Bella Freud, daughter of Lucian, great-granddaughter of Sigmund, epitomises west London cool, not just because of her heritage but because of her enduring and timeless style. Her iconic Word jumpers remain objects of desire season after season. The Grade II-listed Helios building is an icon on the west London skyline, its midcentury aesthetic lovingly restored in its conversion to a residential development. She said: ‘It was great to work in a place with so much history – that has been so entwined with my life and my interests – and to imagine how I would live there.’
The seventh floor penthouse’s layout is upside down, with bedrooms on the lower floor as you enter, and a large open plan living/dining area and kitchen upstairs, on top of the world. Impressive views stretch for miles over west London on one side of the building – on the other side you can see directly into the neighbours’ lives.
Bella Freud: 1970’s Inspired Penthouse Interior
Residents have been instructed to keep their laundry out of sight (literally and figuratively) and sliding glass doors open onto large terraces. The living area is decadent – think rich shades of rust, green and gold with stylish lacquered sofa frames in black – and walls range from murky green to ochre to neutral.
Vintage light fittings are large in scale: above the glass dining table is a 1960s chandelier arrangement in gold and frosted glass, and a collection of Marcel Breuer cantilever cane chairs.
A small snug room leads off the kitchen area, designed with Bella’s teenage son Jimmy in mind and simply furnished with an outsize screen and a gold corduroy sofa, with cork wall tiles and more gold light fittings.
Downstairs, the bedrooms are cosier and darker. The master bedroom is painted deep, dark red and a low, metal-framed bed is arranged with Bella’s slogan blankets and cushions. The second bedroom has a thick golden carpet – Bella calls the shade ‘marigold’ – and woollen wall hangings create a luxurious, rich feel.
Maria Speake – dressed on brand in a red 1970 sweater – explains the design process: “We kept saying, ‘is it porny enough?’” Artworks include photographs from Lorena Lohr, sexy, colourful and subversive plates by Eliza Hopewell, and op-art prints by Jacob Wolff.
This isn’t the first time Freud and Speake have collaborated: they have worked on two successive London homes for Bella, as well as her flagship store on Chiltern Street. Speake said: ‘This was a fantastic excuse to work with Bella again. An extraordinary skyline, a historic building… we had a lot of fun.’
Helios 710 was imagined by Maria and Bella as a sanctuary for the designer and her family, creating private as well as social spaces leaving their use flexible, ready to adapt to changing needs.
The apartment is for sale at £3.925m, fully furnished; televisioncentre.com