My design London: Ilse Crawford

Ilse Crawford launched Elle Decoration magazine in Britain in 1989 and is the founder and creative director of design company Studioilse.
Ilse Crawford in Skandium
© Adrian Lourie
Ilse Crawford in Skandium, where the new Ilse collection by Georg Jensen will be launched later this month


I live in an apartment in Southwark, with my Colombian husband Oscar Pena, who is a design director for Philips Electronics. My studio is in another apartment above me. I am fascinated by the robust beauty of this part of London: the views over the Thames, the churches, the Tate, the strange, still bombed-out landscape of Bermondsey. And of course its stories: we are just round the corner from the graveyard of the Winchester Geese (12th-century prostitutes charged rents by the Bishops of Winchester); "South Wark" inspired Shakespeare and Dickens, it is where you went for fun and where the dirty heart of London lay and all the foul smelling industries were located...

View across the Thames towards Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre and Southwark
© Rex Features
Southwark, where Ilse lives – she loves the sights, sounds and stories


Currently a very beautiful pair of Sergio Rossi shoes I bought when we were doing the concept store in Rome. I tore two ligaments on site a month or two ago so I use them on the window ledge in front of me as inspiration while I am doing my tedious but very necessary physio.

Shelving by Dieter Rams is Ilse’s most coveted design object
Shelving by Dieter Rams is Ilse’s most coveted design object


I like colours that make a good backdrop for people, and objects. Those hard-to-describe colours you find in the backdrops of Dutch portraits. Whether it is dark or light depends on the use and aspect of the room. My apartment is quite dark, and painted a kind of beautiful grey green (Dulux S5005G80Y) but I love Hardwick White by Farrow & Ball and Portland Stone by Little Greene.


I have recently done a project using Vitsoe shelving designed by Dieter Rams which never ceases to surprise in how perfectly it frames things but yet how invisible it is, so it works in every context — truly a frame for life.

I have also recently bought for a client some magical glass pieces by Orrefors, literally bubbles that tested the skills of the makers to the limits. They take your breath away.

Raven Row in Shoreditch
Raven Row, Ilse’s favourite gallery, is a contemporary art centre in Shoreditch


I have a passion for linen bedding. It is beautiful, feels good, is healthier for you, more eco-friendly than cotton and lasts for years. My favourite company is Volga Linen, it feels like vintage linen and comes in subtle colours.


Raven Row, a townhouse in Shoreditch that is a very special space combining a 17th-century building with a new gallery designed by architects 6a — a firm we work with a lot. It is a non-profit contemporary art exhibition centre.

An art glass vase by Ingegerd Raman
An art glass vase by Ingegerd Raman, tipped by Ilse as an exciting new designer to watch


Running along the Embankment. There is nothing as beautiful as the Thames at night and the festoon lighting beats floodlight by miles.


Ingegerd Raman, a superb Swedish glass designer whose work, when you use it, changes the way you feel about ordinary daily activities. She is sold through Skandium in this country.

Cecconi’s restaurant in Mayfair
Cecconi’s restaurant in Mayfair – a glamorous Italian sitting room in the city


Thinking in terms of their design, I like extremes: 40 Maltby Street, south of the river just off Tower Bridge Road, which is run by two young guys where the environment is DIY casual and all the attention goes into the pot, and Cecconi's (which we designed) in Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, which offers a glamorous Italian sitting room in the city.

* Studioilse will be exhibiting the new Ilse collection by Georg Jensen at Skandium, Brompton Road, until June 15. For more information, visit

Follow us on Twitter @HomesProperty and Facebook