A leading name in contemporary creative design, Claire Lloyd is a creative director, photographer and filmmaker. She first arrived in London from Sydney in 1983 after a stint as art director at Australian Vogue, immediately establishing a career working as an art director and contributing editor for a range of fashion, property, lifestyle and interiors magazines. Designer of Domus Nova's property on Chesterton Road, we caught up with Claire again...
Claire, with ties to Sydney, London and Lesvos, where are you currently living?
At the moment I am spending most of my time in a village on the Island of Lesvos. Though I still get to London, I am spending more and more time in Sydney. I get the best the best of both worlds.
You started your career in fashion, what prompted you to work in interiors?
I’ve always loved buildings and interiors and I found myself more and more absorbed in trying to create the perfect living environment for myself. Also I had the experience of working on The World of Interiors, Vogue Living and Elle Decoration magazines.
How do you relax?
I relax by walking the dogs down a dirt road through the countryside to the sea. The walk takes just us over an hour. I love the view, the way the sea meets the sky and I can see Turkey in the distance.
What has been your constant career motivation?
My motivation is life and doing what feels natural. I am strongly guided by my intuition and have a fundamental need to create which spans across everything I do.
Your work often takes you abroad, what do you miss the most when you are out of London?
My friends, the cinema and galleries.
What’s your drink of choice?
My healthy drink of choice is a green juice with avocado, green apple, lemon, mint, cucumber and lettuce with some super green powder thrown in. My alcoholic choice is a chilled white wine.
How do you like to unwind when in London?
Getting together with friends at home or in one of the great restaurants on my doorstep. Also going to the cinema and to exhibitions.
What are you currently reading?
Zorba the Greek.
Who are your design idols? Who did you look up to in your early years as a designer?
I think my inspiration comes from growing up in Australia. My focus is purely with space, proportion and light. These are the most important elements to me. I aim to breathe life and emotion into the spaces I create.
Which home do you wish you had designed?
Every care home I have ever been in. I would love to be able to completely renovate a care home. Old people get such a raw deal and it seems so short sighted as we are all going to be old. I would take all the elements I use in my living spaces and create an environment that promotes internal peace. I would love to make a working garden to be tended and enjoyed.
What are your favourite design spots / shops in London?
You can't beat Noting Hill for great shopping in London, it's so eclectic. From the markets to unique one-off boutiques and delicious eating places, there is something for everyone. It's colourful and real cultural melting pot: I love the variety and creativity.
What is your favourite place in west London?
My sitting room in W2.
If you could work with any designer, who would it be?
I’m a bit of a control freak so although there are many people I find inspiring I am better on my own. I find the work of the artist Anish Kapoor visionary and love the emotional effect it has on me. To present him with a space to work or live in would be wonderful. A space that reflected the work he creates; a space with huge skies, amazing views and ever changing light.
What did you do over Christmas?
Christmas was spent in Sydney with friends and family. In March I am off to explore Istanbul, a place I have not visited for over 20 years. I am so excited and looking forward to capturing every detail through the lens of my camera, smelling every fragrant and pungent smell and tasting as much delicious, Turkish food as possible.
Talk us through your design concept at Chesterton Road?
When I purchased Chesterton Road it wasn't in great shape and so my first job was to strip it right back to its bare bones. In doing this I could then decide the best way to use the space to suit our way of living. The proportions of the house were all there but there were a few walls I wanted to remove to give the house a more open and spacious feel. It was all about light and space. I liked the idea of one large space per floor. I wanted the kitchen, utility and dining space in the basement and I also wanted them to lead directly and seamlessly onto the garden. The ground floor is the entrance to the house and the living area. I opened this up by removing all the internal walls allowing light to flood in from both the north and the south, depending on the time of day. The main bedroom is on the first floor and again the light flooded in due to another wall removal. I decided to keep the existing three rooms on the third floor. The smallest I made a small library room with floor to ceiling book shelves. Then my partner artist, Matthew Usmar Lauder, took the back room that faces the garden as his studio. The front room I made the guests bedroom. I also created a guest shower room at the very top of the house. Each floor had a small room of each landing and the main bathroom is situated on the same floor as the main bedroom. On the ground floor the room off the landing was a snug room to watch television, situated discretely in a wall of cupboards. One of the most exciting things I did was to have a white concrete floor poured throughout the basement and into the garden. Rising out of the concrete was a large kitchen island and a large dining table both poured into moulds on sight to my specifications, so I had to be incredibly confident they would be correct. I used a company that specialised in pouring concrete for cold storage or abattoirs. It was all very exciting and as you can see from the images has stood the test of time.
Your homes are predominately all white with this property featuring dominant black lacquer floors. What made you mix things up with this home?
Apart from the basement, which is white concrete I thought black floors would look smart throughout the rest of the house. The proportions were such that it worked vey well to give a different dynamic.
What has been the most interesting project you have worked on?
I love each and every project in their own right and treat them all equally, with the same amount of attention and care going into each.
What’s the latest in the world of Claire Lloyd?
I am working on writing and photographing a new book, which I’m very excited about. And this year I will be promoting the sale of Gin Head a 1940s radar station on the north west coast of Scotland, a project which I own along with two partners.
What design trends can you foresee for 2015?
More practical, down to earth and sustainable projects will emerge.
What do you have planned for 2015?
Lots of travel and lots of writing and photographing for my new book.
Claire Lloyd Design; clairelloyd.com