Luke Edward Hall, artist, designer and columnist
Luke Edward Haines is an interior designer and artist who has designed for Burberry, Liberty and the V&A. Since 2019, he has also been a regular columnist for the Financial Times, where he answers reader’s questions on interior design.
Born in 1989, Luke received his artistic education at Central St Martins, before going on to work for architect and interior designer Ben Pontreath. In 2015, he set up his own studio, from where he has worked on commissions ranging from interior design and fashion to murals and illustrations for books, hotels and restaurants. He also draws and paints, with his work being exhibited around the world by Athens-based gallery The Breeder.
His work is eclectic to say the least, colourful and romantic, filtered through storytelling and fantasy, as likely to reference the myth of Atlantis as it is Cecil Beaton, or sometimes both.
In 2020, in his largest interior design project to that point, Luke was responsible for the look of the 38-bedroom Hotel Les Deux Gares in Paris, then going on to do the same for the Café Les Deux Gares across the street.
His first book Greco Disco: The Art & Design of Luke Edward Hall was published in 2019, and his second, A Kind of Magic: The Kaleidoscopic World of Luke Edward Hall, was published this autumn. And in 2022, he launched his own brand Chateau Orlando, which sells his own design fashion and homeware.
We caught up with Luke to ask about his work, his aesthetic sense, his inspirations and where he finds the time for everything.
Did you always know from a young age that you would be an artist of some kind?
Yes, it was all I wanted to do, but certainly it was ‘of some kind’ – I loved drawing, painting and making things as a child and teenager, and I went on to study at Central Saint Martins, but I couldn’t quite decide on a clear path. I think this is because I enjoyed working on lots of different kinds of projects: too much interested and excited me. When I set my studio up in 2015, I knew that I wanted to continue in this vein.
What do you think you’d be doing now if not for art and design?
I think that I’d enjoy working with food in some way or another. I love to cook and eat, I love restaurants and hospitality.
What were your earliest experiences with art and design?
Painting and drawing at home. Later on, as a teenager I produced a fanzine with contributions from my school friends. I’d cut and paste it together and my Dad would photocopy it at work.
Did you often visit art galleries when young?
Not particularly, actually – my parents are not arty, but as a teenager I’d take myself off to museums and galleries and I devoured every magazine that I could get my hands on.
How do you describe what you do today?
I’m an artist, designer and columnist. I paint and draw, I occasionally work on interior design jobs, I collaborate with companies to make things such as fabrics and porcelain, I have my new brand, Chateau Orlando, and I write, too…
Who are the major influences on your sense of aesthetics?
I have many art and design heroes: Cecil Beaton, Oliver Messel, the Bloomsbury Group and in particular Duncan Grant, David Hicks, Madeleine Castaing, Dorothy Draper, Schiaparelli…
Has your recent move to the country changed the way you do things? And how have you found the shift to working in a studio in the countryside?
I still spend time in London – I visit the city every few weeks or so for meetings and to spend time with friends, but my base is in the country with my husband Duncan and our dog, Merlin. I don’t believe that a life in the country is the magic answer for everyone, but personally I have found that since being here basically full-time, I have been happier, or at least, much more fulfilled and calmer. I take a lot of inspiration from nature and local folklore, but I also love the simple joy I get from spending time out in the woods and the hills. It’s no secret that engaging with nature is good for us. London is a hectic place, out here I have space and a feeling of quietness, which I have come to realise is extremely important for me. Plus, we’ve become gardeners! We take so much pleasure in growing things.
Are you able to share your favourite places in Gloucestershire (as well as in London). Whether walking, eating/drinking or visiting?
I love The Woolpack, a pub in the Slad Valley which is about 45 minutes west from where we live. It’s a bit of a journey, but we go often because the food is excellent and I love the romance of the pub’s connection with the writer Laurie Lee. I also adore The Lamb, another pub near us at Shipton-under-Wychwood. In London I love The River Café and Quo Vadis, also Sessions Arts Club and Jackson Boxer’s restaurants.
Can you tell us how Chateau Orlando came about? (Our favourites are the Rose turtleneck and the Whippet turtleneck too. Plus, the Oak King crewneck. Plus, we love the Red Roses poster. Are you planning on doing more limited edition prints?)
I work on the brand with a company in Milan – the company got in touch a few years ago and suggesting creating a brand together. I knew a bit about the company as we’d worked on a project before, and this new opportunity was one that I couldn’t say no to. We’re all about squeezing the maximum juice out of life, celebrating colour and pattern. I would say that the brand vision is certainly an extension of my own personal design style, the style I’ve been building up since I started my studio back in 2015. There’s a sense of otherworldly romance, a playfulness. I’m often inspired by the past, but I want to make things that feel modern, bold and full of character. I also like the idea of making things that can be mixed easily with pieces that one might already own – thinking about vintage and antique clothing and homeware. Optimism is key, it’s about hope and also enthusiasm for the world and all it has to offer. Really, it’s about an approach to life and giving equal attention to how one dresses as one does their interiors, cooking, gardening,… It’s not just about aesthetics… it’s about living life to the full… in the most vivid way possible.
And yes, we will make more prints! We plan to make a limited edition poster every time we release a collection and when we work on special projects.
What was it like working on a large interior project like Hotel Les Deux Gares?
It was wonderful, because I was given the chance to work not only on the interiors, but also the branding. I love projects that allow me a kind of 360° approach.
When I began the process of designing the hotel, I was imagining a collector’s house, a kind of Bohemian Parisian who had decided to throw open his or her doors to guests. I wanted the design to feel like a kind of French-English mash-up. Yes, I wanted the hotel to reflect where it is, and as we’re in Paris I wanted to make sure that we included French antiques and motifs – we have toile de Jouy wallpaper and vintage French pieces, but the furnishings, colours and patterns were mixed with an English eye. When I think of English style I think about an eclectic approach. I also looked to the work of two of my favourite designers, David Hicks and Madeleine Castaing. Crucially, I wanted to create a colourful, fun place to stay in Paris. There are plenty of expensive, grand hotels and cool, contemporary places in Paris, but I needed to do something eccentric. I like old things mixed with new things, I like colour and pattern and layers of objects.
What is A Kind of Magic: The Kaleidoscopic World of Luke Edward Hall about?
A Kind of Magic is mainly a look at my spaces in the country and London, with a gentle focus on how these spaces change throughout the year and our garden, in particular. There are other things, too: my studio gets a whole chapter; many drawings and a couple of recipes; short essays on everything from silk waistcoats to haunted forests… I spent months and months shooting the book with my great and patient friend, Billal Taright. It was truly a collaborative process; I trust Billal’s eye for beauty implicitly. We (myself, my husband Duncan and our whippet, Merlin) won’t live in the cottage forever, so I also see the book as a really lovely snapshot of my home life as it is right now. I also feel very lucky to have been able to include in the book a foreword written by my wonderful icon of a neighbour, Nicky Haslam.
What projects do you have coming up in 2023 that you’re able to share?
I’ve been working on a new restaurant project in Dubai for several years and it will finally open its doors at the end of January. I’m working on pieces for new autumn exhibitions of drawings and paintings – one in London and one in New York – and we’ll be releasing new Chateau Orlando collections. Plus, an exciting new book project!
Image Billal Taright.