x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Designer Living: Lee Broom gets inspired by the 1930s

One of the UK's foremost young furniture designers, Lee Broom formerly interned with Vivienne Westwood and recently designed a shopping suite for Topman.

Broom's Salon line "is inspired by 1930s upholstery - soft silhouettes contrasted with modern stud detailing". Courtesy of Lee Broom
Broom's Salon line "is inspired by 1930s upholstery - soft silhouettes contrasted with modern stud detailing". Courtesy of Lee Broom

Where do you live and how long have you lived there?

I've lived in Kennington, south London for eight years. It's a great location - you can walk to the West End really easily.

What do you look for in a home?

I like buildings with character, so I live in a converted fire station with original industrial features.

What does your home say about you?

That I'm incredibly tidy. I hate having any clutter around. There's practically nothing in my kitchen at all.

Do you incorporate elements of your work into your home, or do you like to keep your domestic environment separate?

I often bring home pieces from the studio, so my apartment is a constantly evolving space. It's important to live with your designs so you can understand how the furniture works from a functional aspect, not just an aesthetic perspective.

Sometimes I design for myself. If I need something specific, I just incorporate it in to the next collection. My furniture is not for galleries - it's designed to be used.

What's the key to creating a happy home?

The people you live with make a home happy, rather than the objects you surround yourself with.

What would you save from your house in the event of a fire?

I would open the wardrobe and just grab whatever I could - my shoes, hats. I'd instinctively save my clothes first because I could just make more furniture.

If I could carry it, I'd save my massive 1970s modular sofa, too. It's so worn and comfy. I love it.

Where do you like to shop for pieces for your home?

I'm lucky to have friends who are suppliers. They let me visit their warehouses for a snoop every now and again. It's not clean, it's not glamorous - everything's piled up and you have to dig really deep to find the gems - but I prefer that way of shopping. You get a real sense of achievement when you discover something beautiful. I like the negotiating and bartering, too.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started out at drama school, but I won a fashion design competition when I was 17 and did an internship at Vivienne Westwood.

After that, I studied fashion at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, where I met my friend Maki Aoki. We teamed up and started to give interior design advice to bars and restaurants to subsidise our degrees.

In 2007, I went solo and launched my own label with my Neo Neon range. My fashion background influences me subconsciously when I'm designing products and furniture. It's the same discipline, just a different medium.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I'm a huge fan of mid-century furniture and that era sometimes inspires my pieces. I like to take traditional shapes, then give them my own twist.

My recent Parq Life collection is quite nostalgic. It reminds people of furniture that their grandmother had, and the parquet finish is reminiscent of school hall flooring.

What are you working on now?

It's been a busy year so far. I designed and curated a personal shopping suite for a new Topman store in London, and also opened my first shop. At the London Design Festival last month, we showcased my new Salon range. It's inspired by the curvaceous lines of 1930s upholstery - all soft silhouettes but contrasted with modern stud detailing.

Can you describe your interior style in three words?

I simply can't. That's three words. I never try to define my style. I just do what I do. My look is always changing and I like to keep things exciting.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

New York, Tokyo or Hong Kong. I love cities with energy, stunning cityscapes, plenty of people and a creative vibe.

How do you like to relax?

When I'm not working, I like to go out for drinks or dinner with friends. I don't watch much TV, but sometimes it's good to switch off your brain and escape from reality for a little while.