Tilly Hemingway, daughter of designer Wayne Hemingway, shows us round her apartment on north London’s iconic brutalist Alexandra Road estate
Words Nicky Guymer
Photography Ingrid Rasmussen for Habitat
Introducing Tilly Hemingway
Tell us a bit about yourself. Can you summarise what you do for a living?
Tilly Hemingway: I’m a designer by day and potter by night. I’ve worked for the family business; Hemingway Design, since graduating from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL in 2009, where I read Urban Design. At Hemingway Design I work across various design fields, from Urban Design and Regeneration to furniture and product design. A couple of years ago I started my own ceramics business and now spend a few evenings a week making hand thrown ceramics in my studio attached to the office.
Is this your dream job and why? What do you enjoy most about your job?
Yes it is, I feel very lucky being able to work on a range of different projects on a day to day basis and I really enjoy working alongside my family (my mum, dad and older brother are all part of the business). Making ceramics helps me wind down after a long day and working with my hands is such a nice contrast to sitting at a computer screen. Though I do need to work at finding a balance between the two.
What inspires you to do what you do?
Our philosophy at Hemingway Design is to improve the things that matter in life, and we honestly feel that good design can do this. I find working on Urban Design / Regeneration projects the most rewarding, having somewhere nice to call home is important and knowing you have contributed to improving someone’s living environment is a good feeling.
What’s your favourite thing about your home?
There are lots of things I love about our home. The light is amazing, the living room has an entirely glazed elevation and on a sunny day it can feel like I’m abroad. It’s also very peaceful. The estate is pedestrianised; it’s rare not to hear cars when living in London, but here you only hear people, kids playing, dogs barking. On warm days, kids bring out tables and chairs and play, there’s a nice sense of community.
How have you made this house your home? How would you describe your interior style?
My interior style is mid-Century / modernist / Japanese inspired. I’ve a love of 1950/60s design and have collected a number of pieces over the years that I really treasure. Our sofa is from the 1960s, it belonged to a friend who was moving home and didn’t have space for it, we took it off his hands and had it completely re-conditioned. My partner Dan built the day bed in our living room from left over sheets of plywood we installed for our bedroom floor. I’ve also been heavily influenced by the Japanese interior design aesthetic after travelling to Japan in 2006 with my family and again a few years ago with a good friend.
Tell us about your most treasured possessions?
Dan and I have a fairly large record collection that the pair of us have accumulated over the years. I think we’d both be pretty upset should anything happen to these. We don’t own a TV and tend to spend our evenings listening to records as an alternative. I treasure most items in our home and tend to only buy things that are well designed and well made. Although I am in need of a wardrobe clear out!
What’s travelled with you from home to home?
My ceramics collection. I tend to pick up ceramics everywhere I go. I’ve a fairly large collection of 50/60s West German ceramics that I’ve accumulated from various flea markets over the years. I like to bring back a ceramic vessel / piece from trips abroad as a souvenir; a reminder of that particular trip.
Where is the heart of your home? Do you have a favourite room? Where do you spend most of your time?
Our home is a split-level maisonette, constructed in the 1970s. Typical of that era, the kitchen/dining/living are open plan on one floor. I enjoy cooking and tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, with it being open plan I can still be in the same room and communicative with my partner Dan and friends when we are entertaining.
If you could relive one moment in this house what would it be? Tell us about your favourite memory.
We’ve only been here for just over a year now so I’m sure there are many memories still to come but having my first nephew over as a new born was pretty special.
Is this your perfect habitat? What would complete your home? Do you have your eye on anything new?
I’m a fan of all things woven so the Duffield Woven storage baskets would be ideal as laundry baskets or to house our larger house plants. Cobalt blue appears to be a theme in our flat so the Olmo dark blue dinner set wouldn’t go amiss either.
When you woke up this morning, what was the first thing you saw?
Our morning ritual is to sit on the sofa with a coffee before anything else.
Our living room overlooks the communal park and at this time of year we are lucky enough to catch the sun appearing through the trees.
Tell us something interesting about yourself or your home that not many people know.
There are no radiators. The flats are heated by a communal heating system that runs through the walls. On a cold winter day it is a blessing but on the milder days the heat can sometimes get a bit unbearable. I never imagined eating my tea with the doors wide open in January.