With his wife, Gerardine, Wayne Hemingway opened their first fashion business, Red or Dead, in Camden Market in 1982. Sixteen years later they sold it in a multi-million deal and created Hemingway Design (now run with three of their four children).
It specialises in affordable and social housing projects. They run the Urban Village Fete at Greenwich Peninsula and the Classic Car Boot Sale, with classic vehicles and vintage wares.
More recently they’ve headed the £18 million “re-imagining” of the Dreamland amusement park in Margate; created a new uniform for TfL and designed and provided interiors for East Village (the residential district that was the athletes’ village during the 2012 Olympic Games).
WHERE WE LIVE AND WHY
We spend four days in our house in Wembley and three in our home on the south coast near Chichester.
When we first came to London as teenagers, with £50 each in our pockets, we found the cheapest place to rent, which was near Wembley Stadium. We put roots down, found a dry cleaner’s to press the clothes we were selling, and a seamstress, who was Gerardine’s first employee. It had a brilliant night bus and we were club kids.
As the children started to come along we bought this seven-bedroom, three-storey house near to King Edward VII Park for £150,000 in 1987, which had been built for the British Empire Exhibition for one of the African ambassadors. We converted the garage into the office for Red or Dead.
Then when our eldest lad was 11 we decided to live mostly on the south coast, where we’d been weekending. We bought a plot of land and built a modernist glass house.
And the Wembley house became the offices for Hemingway Design. But now that we’re nearly empty nesters, and the kids are in London, we’re doing up the Wembley house again.
MOST COVETED OBJECT
In a fire, I’d grab my collection of 10,000 vinyl records, and the boat sofa in our house. They’re actually two halves of a 1940s fishing boat we found languishing in a mud berth in Chichester Harbour. Gerardine’s dad did the boat up for us and we used to take it out every weekend. It was a real Swallows and Amazon childhood for the kids.
But one day a friend sailed it back from the Isle of Wight in a Force 7 gale and got shipwrecked on Hayling Island, where the boat split in two. So we had it craned back and made it into a massive and comfortable sofa.
Now the kids have grown up we’ve got a dog and my places revolve around where I can take the dog. We take her to work, then I go running with her in the Welsh Harp, a massive reservoir that serves the whole of north-west London. People sail on it, there are loads of running tracks, and it’s a dog swimming paradise.
Blackout in Endell Street. They have an amazing eye for vintage clothes and accessories. It’s tiny, and the lady who owns it must have been there for 20 years.
MY FAVOURITE MARKET
The great thing about London markets is that people pop up and then disappear. So the best market is where that particular person is that week. Markets are like record shops you might go in 10 times and get nothing, and then next week there’s the Holy Grail in there. I go to Camden, Brick Lane and Portobello, as well as local markets. We’re always looking for unusual designer makers for our Urban Village Fete.
LONDON’S BEST ARCHITECTURE
I’d have to say the South Bank. I think the Royal Festival Hall is amazing — to think that it’s 65 years old and still feels like you’re in a really modern building. And then there’s all the brutalism around that, and the Hayward Gallery — places where architects have tried to do something new and succeeded.
My eldest daughter, the ceramist Tilly Hemingway, has bought a place on the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate in Rowley Way, Camden. It’s a much bigger version of the Brunswick Centre. It’s mainly social housing still. You get much more bang for your buck, there’s a sense of light and space, and she’s 29 so they don’t have that stigma about Sixties architecture.
MY TECH TIP
We all subscribe to the website The Modern House. Gerardine and I aren’t looking to buy anywhere, but we love looking at the collection of houses which goes all the way from modernist to modern. My other daughter actually bought a place off it: a Fifties modernist flat in Gipsy Hill.
The Classic Car Boot Sale runs this weekend at King’s Cross, with vintage fashion, homewares, designer makers, collectables and vinyl sold from boots of vintage vehicles.