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THE DESIGNER'S DESIGNER

Maddux Creative

6th Apr 2016

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Maddux Creative is the eponymous company that bears the name of one half of its design duo, Scott Maddux. Together with close friend and colleague Jo Le Gleud, Maddux Creative has built up an impressive portfolio of coveted projects including a very special property on Rede Place in Bayswater.

We go behind the scenes of a company that has become (unintentionally) a darling of London design.

Scott, you’re from Tennessee originally and Jo is from Lincoln. How did you both end up in South East London?
After getting my Architecture degree in Virginia, I came to London to explore the music scene. As a teenager and a student, I had always been an anglophile, religiously reading The Face and ID to keep up with the latest bands and DJs. It is very fitting that Jo and I met on the tiny dancefloor of The Paradise, a west London pub that kicked off on Sunday evenings, nearly 20 years ago! Having gone to art college in Carlisle, Jo was then working in couture fashion with extraordinary creative characters of the time, and was dating a great friend of mine, who is now one of her husbands; I am known as the other!

Jo and her husband moved to South East London to raise their family. When she was ready to head back into work, I happened to be looking for someone to work with me, so it made sense for us to come together in one company and base ourselves nearby. Peckham is ideal because this is where so many of our makers are located. We have our framer across the car park, and wood and stone carvers, upholsterers, metalworkers, and a spray shop. Everyone is on our doorstep and we can monitor elements of a project as they come off the production line. There is a great energy in this part of London where people can still truly afford to be creative. It generates some amazing work.

Maddux Creative has been described as a ‘designer’s designer’ by your peers. What was yours and Jo’s route into the design industry?
When I started in design I worked for several amazing designers, including Ann Boyd and Hubert Zandberg who gave me the best possible start in design. They both continue to create exciting work, and during my time there, I learned so much from their very different styles. I would say I have a mix of both in my own approach. Jo, having trained & worked in fashion textiles and embroidery has a very complimentary skill set. Crossing over into interiors means that she understands craftsmanship and materials and appreciates detail and embellishment. Jo also has a superior understanding of the processes behind bespoke commissioned work.

When you google the word Maddux it describes someone who is receptive and bears the burden of others. Someone who is pragmatic, stubborn and strong willed yet thorough and practical and who likes home and security above all. Do you think this is an apt description?
Hmm, that’s interesting. I must tell my family! I certainly agree with receptive, and by the very nature of our work we are bearing the burden of others. Pragmatic, practical and thorough; I’ll agree with these too, as these are an essential part of good design and project management.

Strong-willed, perhaps not as much. Our creative process is very client led, and we are very open to their ideas, and require the clients we work with to be the most active participant in the project. We are creating a very personal narrative centered around a client, their property and the journey they have been through. Having said that, if I feel strongly about a particular idea or solution I am very persistent!

In general, a building has its own agenda, as does the client. It’s our job to edit these agendas together and to bring practicality, lifestyle and security together to create a home.

So what is Maddux Creative all about? Is there one singular factor that you always try to incorporate into your projects? Or a signature style perhaps?
No to both really. I think what we’re all about is layering, colour and texture. We’re certainly not minimalists! Most of our clients come to us through word of mouth and some are really quite design-savvy, with big ideas of their own. We have a very “grown-up fun” approach to what we do and we’re confident about our decisions. We definitely have our finger on the pulse, but also have a great understanding of design history, and I think our clients have an appreciation of both of these aspects.

Your private homes are stocked full of beautiful pieces of furniture and accessories. Is it difficult to part with some of the fantastic things that you find?
No, because you know you will always find something else that is equally covetable. We source from all around the world and part of the joy of our job is discovering a new designer or finding that perfect piece. If we hung onto everything we bought we’d be buried by now!

Rede Place is a property that’s now for sale and a classic example of Maddux design, with beautiful furniture, finishes and accessories. How did this project come about?
Christopher, the owner of this house was introduced to us by a previous client. He is a fellow American who also grew up near the Appalachians, and lived abroad in France for some time. He bought this extraordinary mews house, which had been commissioned by the previous owner, and designed by architect Guy Stansfeld. The house has several standout features, such as the metal-framed staircase, which has an extraordinary timber-clad rear wall that runs like a spine through the centre of the house, and becomes a very expressive curved ceiling on the top floor! The rest of the house was very white, however, and our brief was warm it up and add texture. We had to re-configure the layout of the master bedroom floor to allow the space flow better, and added a professional standard wine cellar to the lower ground.

We initially looked to Christopher’s background and love of skiing and the outdoors for our design references. The look evolved naturally into a luxe urban chalet with natural colours and lots of texture. The colour starts with deeper more earthy hues at the bottom of the house and as you move upwards they lighten to match the blues of the sky above.

The house itself has a very mid-century modern feeling, particularly with the beautiful floor-to-ceiling teak-framed windows on the first and second floors, and this also had an influence on the finishes and the furnishings. We were referencing Palm Springs modern particularly in the slate tiling; and some of the key furniture and accessories, such as the Kai Christensen armchairs, and the collection of West German ceramics, are more European examples.

We found and created many other great pieces for this property, including the custom sofa in the sitting room, the massive hunk of tree which forms the coffee table, and the vintage haberdashery cabinet that takes centre-stage in the dressing room. Christopher tasked us with fully accessorizing the property and so we were able to scour private dealers, markets and independent shops for collections of special pieces. We mixed-in a good amount of vintage industrial finds, accessorising in a decidedly masculine style.

What are you working on now?
We’re in beach mode, ironic really as it’s so cold outside, but we’ve been working on a house in the Hamptons. It’s nearing completion and will be ready for this coming summer. We are also working on our first commercial project which has been a great eye opener. It has presented new challenges as we have to work with much tighter budgets and programs. It is very interesting working with the abstract notion of a client – a brand, or a target audience, rather than an individual.

Do you have any thoughts on what would be a dream project for Maddux?
In a previous interview we mentioned working on a project with Roisin Murphy, as we are both big fans of her music and her innovative style. So let’s try again here! If that house were in Ibiza, I think that would be the dream!

You designed and commissioned many of the pieces for the Rede Place property? Is product design something that Maddux Creative has its eye on for the future?
We design so much bespoke furniture for our clients, and have been exploring how to put some of these into production. Our first venture is with outdoor furniture; we have prototyped some pieces with Diespeker & Co, a local terrazzo and marble supplier, utilizing their terrazzo expertise and their scrap materials, which are recycled into beautiful pieces of furniture that will work as well indoors as outdoors.

Design is obviously pivotal to both of your worlds. What do you both do when you’re not designing?
Scott: I keep up my relationship with music and am always seeking out new and interesting artists, and going to gigs and festivals. I recently saw Foals which was a big tick on my list! I also travel a lot, and particularly love to relax by spending time in Ibiza. Closer to home I love to engage with architecture in London. A particular favorite is the Barbican. Architecturally it’s so ambitious, and the design goes right through to the smallest details. I also love the Sir John Soane Museum, it’s such a magical place!

Jo: I have teenage children and being a working mum makes for a pretty busy schedule but I do try to make time to relax, listen to and enjoy my family. We love to cook and entertain (my husband is a chef) and together we are pretty good tag-team hosts for dinners and parties! I have always collected vintage textiles and fashion. In my clubbing days I fashioned these into extraordinary outfits and now I can see my daughter picking up that mantel as she begins to express herself with fashion and a love of music. Vintage textile pieces re-appropriated as bed covers, throws and hangings to make vignettes in my own home give me quiet moments of pleasure.

What do you both think is the future of design?
I think what is happening in fashion, is also happening in lifestyle. We are moving towards a 'post-trend' environment, where we can all be more expressive with what we choose to wear, and how we choose to live. Surely this freedom is far more interesting than predicting that the 80s will be the next big decade, following the 70s which is already in full swing. This is purely down to the passing of time. And the 90s will be added soon enough. But isn’t it far more interesting to mix your mid century sofa with a louche 70s brass and smoked glass coffee table and accessorise with postmodern 80s Sottsass Totem vases and contemporary art? One of the advantages and pleasures of living today is our perspective; we have the ability to place all of these wonderful pieces together, in a contemporary and new way, rather than in a stylistic pastiche of a past decade. I think pieces of all eras have value, including our own. Well-made pieces will last a lifetime, and will always be stylish pieces to live with. And stylish well-made pieces from any era are easy to combine, creating an ecclectic style that is timeless but full of personality. The focus is shifting to unique, perhaps bespoke, quality pieces, and that is ultimately a more sustainable approach to buying and living.

How do you feel about the way London design is represented on a global platform?
London is certainly a hotbed for design, and part of the reason for that is the international diversity of the people who are choosing to make their home here. I think London is probably the most diverse city in the world; this makes for very exciting interior design possibilities, and I think this is visible on the international stage. As a designer, you are able to draw on your clients varying backgrounds and wide sphere of references to create dynamic schemes with unexpected juxtapositions. Most of our clients tend to be couples of mixed international heritage, and that definitely has an influence on the outcomes, as does our own company diversity!

Tell us something that most people don’t know about Scott Maddux and Jo Le Gleud?
Scott: I used to play the Tuba, and would probably have been a professional had I not decided to study architecture!

Jo: I really enjoy training outdoors, getting muddy at boot camp as often as my schedule allows.

How would you like to be known?
For creating beautiful, timeless spaces with integrity! And being super fun!

Maddux Creative; madduxcreative.com

Twitter: @MADDUXcreative
Instagram: madduxcreative