With her statement turbans and jazzy outfits, Bethan Laura Wood is one of the most original figures on the London design scene. After an MA in product design from the Royal College of Art, she set up her own east London studio. Her work, which ranges from furniture and glass to textiles and jewellery, is distinctively bold and bright. She has made furniture and window installations for Hermes and Tory Burch and recently created the stunning Christmas art installation for Sketch restaurant
WHERE I LIVE
I live in Hackney-slash-Homerton. I’m happy here and hope I never have to move. I’m in The Strand Building, an old Art Deco showroom turned into flats in the Nineties. It was before the “safe beige” era, and everything is pink, turquoise and blue. There are pink walkways and zigzag handrails, and we have a walled garden. It’s like living in a candy box, and I enjoy that a lot.
My home looks like me, with more objects hanging off it. Life is too short to be minimal. I have always collected stuff — when I was 14 I collected Fifties items, but now I’m upgrading. I have an amazing, huge Memphis sofa that takes over half of my front room. I found it in one of the London auction houses and I’m going to refurbish it. I met Nathalie Du Pasquier and George Sowden, who originally designed the piece, and asked their advice. I’d also love some Fornasetti wallpaper, the Malachite one in black and green.
Designer Martino Gamper has an amazing working studio in Hackney and a website. The Dock by Tom Dixon is quite an intense space. I showed there when he first took it over in 2009. Faye Toogood also shows great installation-based work in spaces such as the V&A and Somerset House.
I’m a market girl. My favourite is Spitalfields on a Thursday — antiques day. It’s still a very well-curated market. You can go there and there’s a guy selling prints, another selling furniture, then there’s bearded, skinny, sexy men selling Victoriana clothes and old stuffed animals. It is inspiring. Columbia Road Flower Market is intense — you’re not going to move faster than two paces every 15 minutes, so enjoy it and the colours and the banter. In Columbia Road, there’s a really cool Mexican shop, Milagros, with lots of folk-painted stuff.
WHERE I FIND FABRICS
I buy kimonos from Spitalfields Market, but vendors in Ridley Road Market in Dalston sell great African fabrics. Liberty in Regent Street is a childhood favourite. I go into the carpet department there for the sheer intensity of colour and texture. One day I’m going to buy one of their carpets.
It has to be Hayward Gallery on the South Bank — I love brutalist architecture. The Barbican puts on great things such as the Eames show. Aram Store in Covent Garden, founded by Zeev Aram, is a really interesting shop to go for Eileen Gray pieces, such as her Bibendum chair, which costs from £2,233, and carpets by Eley Kishimoto and Thomas Heatherwick.
COVETED DESIGN OBJECT
A totem by Ettore Sottsass. Proportionally, they’re so interesting — there’s colour, and they are just so big and beautiful.
Get on a bus and look up. Most of the buildings are wonderful above the shopfronts. On the route from Hackney to London Bridge, all the detailing on the buildings as you come in towards the bridge is insane — hardcore, heavy, swirly whirly brickwork. And on the number 38, you see the former Carlton Cinema in Essex Road. It’s a great example of Art Deco-meets-Egyptian-Aztec bold colours.