Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

When Creatives Get Creative; Give Two Celebrated Movie Costume Designers a Backyard Box and It Will Magically Become a Stunning Live/work Home. by Philippa Stockley

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

When Creatives Get Creative; Give Two Celebrated Movie Costume Designers a Backyard Box and It Will Magically Become a Stunning Live/work Home. by Philippa Stockley

Article excerpt

Byline: Philippa Stockley

UNBEATABLE London creativity combined with the right architect can produce truly innovative results. Designer-artisans Paddy Whitaker and Keir Malem, both 52, who designed 160 Amazonian battle outfits for this summer's movie blockbuster, Wonder Woman, have created an extraordinary two-storey live/work home in Dalston.

With a futuristic stepped, ziggurat-style green roof covered with 800 succulents, this amazing, 1,090sqft property is full of natural light from three sides, and has two courtyards and a winter garden as well as a workshop. Yet it started life as a dreary, single-storey backyard brick box used as a photographer's darkroom.

Paddy and Keir's distinctive, detailed leatherwork, particularly in film and art, has ranged from Madonna's crocodile leather cuirass to Halle Berry's wide leather belt, both in Die Another Day. The pair understand shapes and volumes and how to achieve them and have astonishing attention to detail. Such a client would challenge any architect -- until they met Nick Hayhurst and Jonathan Nicholls.

a boost from bowie Both men went to fashion college: Keir in Maidenhead, Paddy at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, just after John Galliano. When they met in 1986, aged 21, Keir helped Paddy to design a wedding dress for the wife of David Bowie's manager, and after that, Paddy's career took off.

In 1997 they were hoping to buy a home. Cycling back one day from their leather merchant in Dalston, Keir spotted a small To Buy or Let sign "tucked down the side of a house". The light industrial unit with a flat roof was grim. They asked Hackney council if they could convert it to live/ work space, but Hackney said no, on account of noise. Then the vendor, knowing that their work only involved one sewing machine, persuaded the planners to visit Paddy's studio and listen to his machine, and permission was granted.

With a tiny budget of PS5,000 and the help of Paddy's parents, they painted it white, punched a picture window at one end, built a basic bathroom and kitchen, and a platform bed. That was all they could afford, and they lived and worked there for 18 years. Paddy says: "We wanted something bigger but we love the area and didn't want to move, so we wondered about adding another storey." They were on the Tube when they saw a Homes & Property feature on a house by Hayhurst and Co, and liked the style. The architects were local to them.

pull-down movie screen The planners said they would consider an upper storey if the building had architectural merit. Architect Nick Hayhurst thought an ecological green roof would help. Paddy and Keir wanted a gallery to show work and have clients round, and a feature staircase. Nick's design meant digging down eight feet. He also planned to extend a bit at the front, creating a winter garden/lobby with a glass roof and polished steel to bounce light around. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.