My design London: artist and curator Nathalie Hambro

The artist/curator, born and raised in Paris, calls an art installation in Pimlico her home.
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Artist/curator Nathalie Hambro is a former contributing editor to British Vogue and Elle Decoration. Her handbags and clothing designs are housed in the permanent collections of the V&A and FIT Museum, New York. Her first cookery book, Particular Delights, won the prestigious Glenfiddich Award. She has worked as an independent art adviser for auction house Phillips and her “Diary” of insider London secrets at has a cult following. Last month she created monumental sculptures as part of the Khora Architectural Dome at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Where I live
I was born and educated in Paris but for the past 20 years I have lived in an apartment in a Grade II-listed building in Pimlico. It’s nestled between Westminster, Victoria, Chelsea and Belgravia and borders the Thames. When I first moved in it was unfashionable and quite run-down. Now it is very desirable but I love the fact that it is still a village enclave. I always think of the film, Passport to Pimlico.
My home
It’s not decorated; it’s more like an art installation as my home and workspace are one: my creative process is in constant switch from making sculptures and objects, to photography and cooking. The aesthetic is industrial and yet “rus in urbe” with lots of metal garden furniture.
Home colours/textures
I can’t separate colours from texture. In my apartment I am surrounded by steel, lead, copper, ultramarine, toxic green, verdigris. I have used metal stencils, the sort used to mark packing crates, puzzle-like, on the wall. I like to reassess industrial metal in a different context.


One cube or two: a Brionvega RadioCubo from the Sixties is one of Hambro’s favourite things
Favourite objects
I have a self-aligning Ball Bearing from 1929, the same as one in the MOMA collection, “The Machine Age” (designed by Sven Wingquist in 1907). I also love my Alex Moulton Double Pylon bicycle, which stands like a sculpture in the hallway, and I have a tall colour-enamelled copper wire column (about 5km, each spools), which I exhibit like an art object. I also love my “Cubo” Brion Vega radio TS 522, 1963, designed by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper, which has now been re-edited. I often use square shapes in my work.
Most coveted design object
The kitchen is the heart of my home. I am currently writing a cookery book called Short Cuts in High Heels: Cooking for all the Senses with easy and inventive healthy dishes. I am never without my Nakiri knife from the Japanese Knife Company. It’s multi-pupose, 67 layers, with a beautiful Damascened finish on the large blade.


Wouldn’t be without: a Nakiri knife from the Japanese Knife Company
My escape
One of London’s 600 wonderful parks, commons and gardens which are all over this city such as the Thames Barrier Park, designed by a French landscape gardener. The garden topiary is bluish and simulates rolling waves. I also love the ‘Magnificent Seven’ Victorian cemeteries in London, including Hackney and Nunhead. Nunhead is a haven for wildlife - 16 different species of butterflies have been found. If you sit in the perfect spot you can see the dome of St Paul’s far in the distance, perfectly framed in the foliage.
Best restaurant
At heart I am an urban explorer. I prefer street food. Part of the joy of coming to London was discovering all the markets and different ethnic foods. But my ideal break during the day is Princi on Wardour Street and the Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market as they are both proper bakeries, so everything is scrumptious, either sweet or savoury. At both I get fabulous cakes with green tea.
Secret shop
Atsuko Kudo on Holloway Road specialise in couture latex design - empowering, sexy clothes. I call it chic BDSM. Madonna and Rihanna get outfits made there. I don’t really care about fashion but I enjoy dramatic high heels shoes from Walter Steiger and artisan-made ones from Trippen - it breaks the ice when I go to the market. And I like the jewellery Elisabetta Cipriani commissions from contemporary artists which are like scaled-down sculptures.


Left: Crossness Pumping Station in Abbey Wood. Right: a latex outfit from Atsuko Kudo in Holloway Road
Favourite museum
Crossness Pumping Station in Abbey Wood, built in 1865 by Sir Joseph Bazalgette as part of London’s urgently need sewerage system. The Beam Engine House is a Grade I-listed building built in the Romanesque style and features some of the most spectacular ornamental Victorian cast ironwork as well as four original pumping engines. I also like Abbey Mills in Stratford, a twin pumping station and the RAF Museum in Hendon.
Favourite gallery
Raven Row, a non-profit contemporary art exhibition centre, based in two 18th-century houses in Spitafields, is programmed and funded by Alex Sainsbury. And Studio Voltaire, a registered charity and gallery space in a disused chapel in Clapham, which organises residencies for artists.


Favourite museum: the RAF museum on the old RAF Hendon site, Colindale
My favourite artist
Marcel Duchamp, because of the ready-mades. All his theories are still totally valid. I’ve devoured the new book The Duchamp Dictionary (Thames & Hudson, £16.95). 
  • Nathalie Hambro is taking part in an Art Quarterly talk on 18 June,

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