My design London:Dezeen design website founder reveals his top makers, studios and West End hangouts

Marcus Fairs is founder of Dezeen - widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential design websites. Here, Fairs reveals his favourite places to visit, shop and hang out in London.

As a furniture design graduate, Marcus Fairs launched icon, the international architecture and design magazine, in 2003, winning a string of awards.

Then in 2006 he set up Dezeen, widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential design websites.

WHERE I LIVE

Stoke Newington, for nearly 15 years. As a student I lived in a shared house in Church Street. When we married we bought a little flat in a factory conversion, and now we’re in a bigger Victorian house near Clissold Park.

The area has changed a lot. The nurseries and schools are really good. It’s one of those neighbourhoods that suits all age groups.

MY DECOR

I don’t have a design lifestyle, I’m much more eclectic and chaotic. Every time we’ve tried to work with an architect, we’ve fallen out with them and ended up going to cheap builders.

Ours is a high Victorian house, fairly decorative, with nice elaborate ceiling friezes. We moved in with grand plans to do an extension and knock down the Australian Outback-style kitchen extension that someone did 20 years ago. So far we’ve only managed to paint the walls white and varnish the floors.

My wife is my partner at Dezeen and we’ve been collecting nice bits and pieces forever: a mixture of high design and flea market/vintage Ercol finds. I’m also hopeless at DIY so the house is full of picture frames covering holes I’ve drilled.

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“We’ve got quite a few statement colour pieces”: a Hella Jongerius Polder sofa

MY FURNITURE

Knowing so much about design is a real handicap because it makes it impossible to choose. When we wanted shelves for my son’s bedroom we ended up in Ikea buying £20 units while we figured out which ones we wanted from a trendy designer and five years later, the Ikea ones are still going strong.

We’ve got quite a few statement colour pieces: a red Hella Jongerius Polder sofa, a deep French blue bookshelf that I shipped back from Barcelona 25 years ago.

When we were home-making, cherrywood was in fashion — so we’ve got a big cherrywood bed and bedroom furniture, plus flea market and vintage finds.

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Favourite gallery: pick up a print in Stokey at the Hang-Up Gallery, Stoke Newington Road (Carla Nizzola)

FAVOURITE GALLERY

We’re very slowly building a collection of original signed prints and street art. I like the Hang-Up Gallery in Stoke Newington high street. They get a lot of prints by well-known contemporary artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey.

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Homeware shop: for vintage pieces that work together, Fairs recommends twentytwentyone in Upper Street, Islington

HOMEWARE SHOPS

My daughter does drama every weekend at Yati [Young Actors Theatre] at Angel, so I wander into twentytwentyone in Upper Street to browse. Another favourite is SCP. They both do vintage, which I love. They fill their shops with nice things that work together, that aren’t too elitist or statement-y.

FAVOURITE MAKER/STUDIO

I really admire product and interior designer Lee Broom. He’s got this little showroom in Rivington Street and it’s like Lee Broom’s Universe: so well curated. The best architects and designers, the ones who make it, have a complete world view. When Lee drove his studio delivery van, with a recreated Italian palazzo inside, around Milan this year, he even ordered garage overalls for his team.

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Favourite maker/studio: Lee Broom in Rivington Street, EC2, for lighting, furniture and home acessories

Lee’s supplying hotels in New York, which is great for the design world because we need to get away from that “struggling artist” view of design. They should be successful brands, showing that design is an economy rather than a frivolity.

And can I mention the Dezeen office in Haggerston? We worked with architect Pernilla Ohrstedt to get it right. But now it’s a real oasis of calm and efficiency. Pernilla space-planned it so well she managed to get in 25 per cent more people. I believe that great design and architecture is more about unlocking space than flashy finishes.

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“An oasis of calm and efficiency”: the Dezeen website office in Haggerston

SECRET SHOP

Two garden centres. I was looking for Himalayan birches because we wanted to build a screen at the back of our garden and we went to Paramount Plants in Enfield, which is an architectural plant specialist, and N1 Garden Centre is a beautiful boutique garden centre in De Beauvoir, it’s so well curated for a very tiny space. Some people buy shirts, I buy plants.

FAVOURITE MARKET

Markets are busy and noisy and there’s never anything I want. I prefer department stores. I took my kids into the West End recently. We went straight to Liberty and ended up spending an hour there. Everything is so calm and they make you feel like a prince. In contrast I like Selfridges. They’re both spectacular buildings in different ways: the faux Tudor charm of Liberty and the grand New York-style emporium of Selfridges.

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Coveted object: a piano finished with fire by Maarten Baas, who is handy with a blowtorch. Fairs has a Cumbrian settle “transformed” by the Dutch designer (Rex Features)

CULTURAL HOTSPOT

As a family we love street culture: those busy spaces where you’ve got cultural retail — galleries and restaurants, shops and streetwear brands. I’m opting for Shoreditch or Carnaby Street.

MOST COVETED OBJECT

My most special piece is by Maarten Baas, the Dutch designer who burns used furniture with a blowtorch. My dad gave us a high-backed Victorian settle. He had it shipped from Cumbria and it was horrible. So I asked Maarten if he’d burn it. We shipped it to Eindhoven and he transformed it. It’s fantastic. I call it my family heirloom that wasn’t.


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