Design firm Studiomama has renovated a carpenters’ workshop in Bethnal Green – compact, colourful, and at the heart of east London’s action
I picked up a copy of US interiors bible Dwell while on holiday recently, and this great house was featured in it, which jogged my memory that I’d been meaning to write about it. It was part of Dwell’s ‘small spaces’ issue – always a laughably relative term when it comes to homes magazines, I find – but this house does indeed make a small footprint work hard, with, for example, an open-plan living/dining/kitchen area, a pod-like ground-floor bedroom and built-in storage.
The former carpenters’ workshop belongs to Danish designer Nina Tolstrup of design firm Studiomama, and her husband Jack Mama. They’re well-versed in how to make the most of compact spaces: a few years ago they designed and built a contemporary beach hut in Whitstable, a shingle-clad building with a huge sea-facing window. I see lots of similarities between the beach hut and the Bethnal Green house: the bare wood, cosy sleeping spaces and odd hit of really bright colour all seem to have been transported here from Whitstable. It doesn’t feel very ‘London’, instead reflecting Tolstrup’s own design sensibility, a mix of spare Scandinavian style and the simple gaiety of primary colour; refreshing and rather invigorating.
Tolstrup is pushing the boundaries of modern design, reusing found items or releasing instructions for building your own furniture, and you can immerse yourself in her ideas here (spot her red ‘Reimagined’ chairs, reborn from frames found dumped in the street, and ultra-simple ‘1×1’ floor lamp, for example). And you might need such a calming environment to come back to, given where the house is just off the never-a-dull-moment Bethnal Green Road.
Nearby: Er, London, and everything in it. But more locally speaking, Bethnal Green is brilliant for still feeling a bit gritty, but still near all the delights of Shoreditch and the City of London, and a quick ride on the Central Line to town. The vintage/antiques market at Spitalfields on a Thursday is still good despite the encroaching chain restaurants (talkin’ about you, Giraffe); Old Truman Brewery nearly always has something interesting on, from graduate art shows to sample sales; Redchurch Street is great for independent shops and Conran’s Boundary hotel/hangout; and there’s Columbia Road market on a Sunday for armfuls of flowers and more good shopping.
Photos via The Modern House