Based in London and with an emphasis on interior design, Eleanor Horwell Design is characterised by an elegant British style. Their most recent project, which was very different and purely Greek, was a vacation residence in Mykonos, which is featured in the brand new Maison de Campagne 2014. This project was the subject of an interesting conversation with them.
You design interiors not only in London but on the mainland as well, while recently you visited Greece. What are your fundamental design principles, and how are they affected by the location of each project?
At Eleanor Horwell Design, we believe in making every project fit its environment and history. Rather than forcing our particular style onto every project, we see each one as an opportunity to do something beautiful and appropriate for the setting. This might mean that in London we focus on original features and reclaimed finishes, to restore a property to its original splendor, whereas with a new island house, we focus on making a feature of external views and locally sourced finishes.
The residence in Mykonos was different compared to your previous works. Clean lines, open spaces, simplicity and a light color palette. Where did your inspiration come from, and what motivated this change?
Often our inspiration comes from our client. We always say that, rather than telling our client what our style is, we work with them to help them find theirs. We had already worked with this client on his London apartment, which overlooks the river, and we knew that he loved simple modern design, emphasis on external views, and classic statement furniture. It was great fun for us to do a project that was so minimal, and so different from our other properties. We are now working on another similar project, on Tinos.
Were your choices affected by the way of life in Greece and the local environment?
It’s impossible not to be affected by the way of life in Greece! It’s always wonderful arriving on the islands and being able to slow down a bit and just enjoy the breathtaking scenery and the wonderful people. We also found some great stonemasons on the island and commissioned a few original pieces that really tie the house to its environment.
How did you manage to morphologically combine a contemporary (and luxurious) vacation house with traditional architecture? How would you describe your experience of designing a residence in the Greek landscape?
The house is not as traditional as some of the houses on the island, but it still fits seamlessly into its hillside and alongside its neighbours. Our client very much wanted to have a house that fitted in with his love of modern architecture but also was sympathetic to the environment. The house is surprisingly more modern inside than the exterior would suggest; which gives an amazing ‘wow’ factor when you come in through the front door. We purposefully kept the exterior subdued and neutral, and kept the minimal chic for the interiors. Working on an island house is always going to be a bit more complicated, especially a house that is perched on a steep hillside, but we had great people working with us. The benefits of the views of the sea and the sunset far outweigh the difficulties of receiving deliveries!
As an interior designer, you are ‘planning’ the shell – the space and conditions in which the user lives. What impact are you trying to achieve through your work?
For us, the most important thing is that the house actually works as a home, as a space for relaxing, for entertaining, for sleeping and eating. The flow of a house, from entrance, through different zones, is very important, and we spend a lot of time making sure that there is a natural progression, that the locations become intuitive, even as a guest arriving for the first time. Especially with a holiday home, it’s important for everything to be easy, to be near, and to work seamlessly. It’s only when difficulties and troubles are taken away that one can relax and enjoy the beauty of a space.
What projects are you currently working on, and what are your goals for the future?
We are currently working on a wonderful house on Tinos, made up of three distinct buildings. It’s going to be beautiful, full of local stone and disappearing into the hillside. In London we are working on a new luxury apartment block in Paddington and a large family residence in Highgate. All three projects are very different, which is great for us, we hate to do the same thing twice! We are expanding the company next year to have a separate team that is focusing on island house, which is really exciting. We really loved doing this Mykonos house, and can’t wait to do more like it.
Text: Olga Tsikoudi, architect