LUCHO Brieva's huge open-plan, three-storey base in Kilburn, which is his home, a recording studio and a showroom for his metal sculpture, furniture and interior design business, was once a run-down Victorian stables and railway depot.
More extraordinary is that the entire conversion, from the metal balconies and big front doors, to the staircase, lighting and furniture, was all done by 43-year-old Brieva himself, a Columbian architect and designer, who has lived in London for more than 20 years.
In his showroom and work studio he makes his inspiring lighting, furniture and architectural components. His peaceful loft-style flat occupies the second level.
"I originally came here to study architecture and stayed on because I kept falling in love with English girls," says Brieva disarmingly. "When I was married to Chrissie Hynde we moved house every year for six years. It was too much. Now I prefer to have one manageable space. It's very liberating."
‘Because I have so many friends coming to stay, I've made the furniture versatile’
He now lives on his own but has a seven-year-old son, whom he sees regularly; he also appears to entertain an endless stream of friends from all over the world who come to visit and stay with him. He is effusively charming and generous.
The main part of the apartment, with its eye-catching furniture designs and dramatic lighting, resembles a theatrical stage, with each area delineated into room sets for cooking, eating, relaxing and working.
To one side of this is a separate office and bathroom while in another corner there is a floating staircase, which leads up to a second sitting room and bathroom.
The staircase sits on a platform that conceals a drawer with a pull-out bed and extra storage. "Because I have so many friends coming to stay, I've made the furniture versatile," says Brieva.
This platform bed is one of many throughout the flat and is a good example of his design philosophy: that every piece should look good, be multifunctional and user-friendly.
One of his most recent creations is a bespoke sofa with a gently curving upholstered surface. It sits on a stainless-steel frame and encourages two people to sit and talk facing one another.
The dining table is similarly generously proportioned and clearly intended for large social gatherings. Brieva made it from planks of zebrano wood, resting on a stainless-steel frame.
We sit on bright red Eames leather dining chairs, the colour of which is mirrored by the brilliant red glass and wrought-iron lanterns hanging above. These, says Brieva, were inspired by the 18th century Italian engraver Giovanni Battista Piranesi, famous for his depictions of underground prisons and vast, contorted machinery.
"But the bright colours are because I'm South American and I need lots of colour and light," Brieva explains.
Throughout, surfaces, including columns, shelves and cupboards, are lit from behind giving them theatrical emphasis. But they are all deceptively simple constructions.
‘I started building things from pieces of metal I'd found in the street or in skips’
The kitchen units, which look strikingly Art Deco in style, are made from black Perspex sheets and stainless steel beneath a white Corian worktop. Glossy shelves to house glasses and crockery are made from white lacquered MDF and have been backlit in changing colours to suit the mood.
Wall cupboards with swirling floral motifs were made from opal Perpex, which looks like glass; as are room dividers, which can be slanted at any angle to open up or enclose space. A shimmering gold wall partition has been created from panels of loosely connected brass. Plain doors are brought to life with huge hammered-copper handles.
"The world has enough things already but I make these because I love using my hands," says Brieva. "I started building things from pieces of metal I'd found in the street or in skips."
He picks up a small leaf-shaped vessel made from hammered metal, an object you might expect to see in a shop with a hefty price tag. "I made it in 20 minutes."
Behind the staircase, floor-to-ceiling wooden Venetian blinds on three glass windows open to reveal his workshop, an almost Piranesi-like vision of machines and tools, many of which are Victorian.
Brieva is proud of his collection, describing it as a "working museum". Everything he designs is made on the premises; he employs three people.
Touchingly, however, the object he seems most proud of is a huge opal Perspex dodecahedron (a solid circular object with 12 sides) suspended on a chain outside his bedroom window.
When his son came to stay for the night, he pointed out of the window and told him he had made a special moon, just for him.
Where to get the look
Lucho Brieva, W10 (020 8960 2794; www.luchobrieva.com). By appointment only.
Eames chairs and reproductions of many great designs from Bluesuntree (01162 897070; www.bluesuntree.co.uk).
Upholstery: Evandro Kuhn in NW6 (020 7604 3000; www.ekdesignlondon.co.uk).
Timber: Moss & Co in W6 (020 8748 8251; www.mosstimber.co.uk/index.htm).
Pictures by Jake Fitzjones