Height of Fashion; Designers Swap Catwalks for Hi-Rises

Sunday Mirror (London, England), May 29, 2005 | Go to article overview

Height of Fashion; Designers Swap Catwalks for Hi-Rises


Byline: Katherine Sorrell

WHAT they donOt know about pintucks and pleats may not be worth knowing, but can a fashion designer really get to grips with room layouts, lighting, floor coverings and kitchens? KATHERINE SORRELL finds out...

PROPERTY developers have joined forces with some of the worldOs leading fashion designers to give cutting edge style to their new homes.

Cynics might suggest that bringing in a hot fashion name is nothing more than a publicity stunt to add Hello!-type excitement in a tricky market.

But the designers and developers hotly deny it, pointing out nitty-gritty involvement in many aspects of the development process from start to finish.

Actress Kate WinsletOs favourite designer Ben de Lisi, who has worked on four projects for Countryside Properties, insists: OItOs much more than just cushion throwing.O

He adds: OI guess IOm an artist, so I tend to project the same feeling, whether it's fabrics for the body or the shell of an apartment. I havenOt got the knowledge to design the structure of a building, but I do know about aesthetics and can apply that to different things.O

De Lisi was recruited by Countryside's sales and marketing director Ann Lever, who says: OHe was in at the front-end working with the architects and played a huge part in the overall specifications of the apartments. His involvement was integral, not just cosmetic.O

But why bring in a fashion designer in the first place?

Ms Lever says her company wanted someone with a completely fresh outlook, who would add an insight into future style trends.

OWhat Ben has done stretches the perception of what interiors can be. He knows when to drop something and when to insist something should stay.O

Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway were mavericks within the fashion industry when they were running Red or Dead, and now that they're designing homes theyOre still bucking the trend. Wayne, who did a degree in geography and town planning and also helped design Dr Martens shoes, says: OWe arenOt designing homes on the basis of fashion, which is about trying to convince people that they need something new every eight weeks. WeOre designing on the basis that where you live has an impact on health, education and children.O He adds: OMy design philosophy in every area I have worked I from Red or Dead through Dr Martens to housing I has been to make good design available to everyone, not just the wealthy.O Princess DianaOs favourite designer Bruce Oldfield was involved in the planning and property layout at the upmarket Carlton Terrace restoration project in Newcastle- upon-Tyne.

Project communications director Wayne Halton said the clothes guru also oversaw progress on the 14 townhouses.

He added: OBruceOs eye for detail was fantastic and critical in getting this prestigious project to market.O

THE HEMINGWAYS

THE DESIGNERS: Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway founded Red or Dead at a stall in Camden market, North London, in 1982 and went on to win Street Style Designer of the Year three times in a row in the late 1990s before selling the fashion label. They now specialise in affordable and social design, bringing the same values to housing projects, technology, products, interiors, clothing and footwear.

THE PROPERTIES: Staiths South Bank is a radically different development of 770 new homes on the banks of the Tyne in Gateshead. It emphasises people rather than cars and offers a wide choice of homes, from one-bed flats to four-bed houses. Huge queues formed early last year when the first homes were released for sale. The next phase is due to go on sale in September.

THE LOOK: The Hemingways worked on every aspect of the development, starting with the search for a site and consultations with planners. Their overview was to put people before cars, encourage recycling and include a variety of open spaces. …

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