Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges and Neo Bankside designer Tom Bartlett reveals his style secrets

Architectural designer Tom Bartlett lives in multicultural Kensal Green, loves finding eccentric surprises in London’s streetscapes and has a contact book packed with the city’s happening shops and suppliers.

Tom Bartlett founded his Clerkenwell-based architectural and interior design studio, Waldo Works, 11 years ago. Its major projects include Neo Bankside, the beauty floor at Fortnum & Mason, and Selfridges’ international customer services lounge. Its interiors for the Smythson flagship store in New York will be unveiled later this month. Bartlett is also a design partner at Jade Jagger for Yoo.


I live in College Park, in Kensal Green. I grew up in Notting Hill — my parents are still in the house I was born in, and this was the most affordable area nearby. In the late Nineties I bought a warehouse. It’s a former make-up compact factory. I added another floor to either end for bedrooms, and there’s a big double-height space in the middle. I set up my own practice when I moved in.

Kensal Green is a big multicultural mix. It’s Portuguese, Brazilian, Persian. There’s Kensal Green Cemetery, which is dilapidated and picturesque, and some interesting design places — Retrouvius and Circus in Chamberlayne Road for antiques, and the florist Scarlet & Violet.



I’m expanding the layout again at the moment because I’ve got a son and we need space. My place is pretty white and crisp — there’s one black room where I have a little TV snug area, but it has a blue resin floor and is full of colourful furniture. Like anyone who works in architecture and interiors, you still end up with the sofa that didn’t fit or the cushion that didn’t work. You try and get the best out of your interiors, but I always think people go over the top about paint, Dulux is brilliant. And frankly you can mix your own paint in two seconds, so that’s what I save on.


My company is working with ceramicist Bridget Tennant who makes customised things in porcelain, such as lighting. Designer Martino Gamper is a firm favourite with the studio, while Bill Amberg is the only man to go to for architectural leather work. Jasper Morrison’s shop on Kingsland Road is a delight. There’s a great little collective in Haggerston called Nocturne Workshop, run by Simon Day and Emma Peascod. The postmodern work by people such as textile designer Camille Walala is rather cool, and there are some very good graphics.


Labour and Wait on Redchurch Street is consistently good, while Viaduct is obviously the only place for modern furniture. I like going to Lamb’s Conduit Street — Darkroom sells great eclectic designer accessories and homewares. And the wonderful haberdashers, Temptation Alley, on Portobello Road, is the cheaper version of VV Rouleaux for edgings. I have a thing about for really covetable household items — particularly its Austrian blue enamel pans.

Break-the-mould London buildings: an east London building (left) covered in a Camille Walala mural; a Wren retreat, St Stephen Walbrook church (right) in the City


The first: don’t ever mess with a scaffolder in London. The second: if you need respite from the rush, if you get overwhelmed, pop into a church. It’s one of the most amazing things you can do — and they’re usually free. I love Wren’s St Stephen Walbrook in the City.


Weirdly for a contemporary designer, I love Wren and Hawskmoor. I also like to look out for little (or large) eccentric surprises, such as the Fifties glass entrance at St Mary’s Hospital in South Wharf Road; St Olaf House on Tooley Street, and The Blackfriar pub near Blackfriars Bridge — all places that break the mould.


The ceramics gallery at the V&A and its new Toshiba Japanese Gallery are pretty perfect. I am excited about John Pawson’s new Design Museum.


I’ve just ordered a terrarium [a closed-glass container for plants] from Hermetica London. There’s something really wonderful about them. But I’ve got my eye on a table and the Hiroshima chairs from Maruni, designed by Jasper Morrison. It is a Japanese company and we’ve used them in Selfridges.


The Cityplanner app is the best thing ever. You can plan your life through it. And it’s so great when you move city, it seamlessly transfers you through London, New York, or wherever. I’m very interested in the new iPad — the idea of being able to draw directly on to a device and then print it out and send it to someone is great.


The galleries around Herald Street in Bethnal Green are particularly good, including Maureen Paley, and my sister’s gallery, the Laura Bartlett Gallery. I also like Limoncello in Kingsland Road.


Having lived in an urban contemporary space for 20 years, I would love a beautifully proportioned Georgian room with three good windows overlooking a leafy, quiet square in the centre of town. So Fitzroy or Bloomsbury Square would be lovely, please.

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