Striking the Right Note; HOMES AND PROPERTY; by Using 14 Colours on the Walls and Incorporating 50 Cupboards in the Design, Gordana Mandic Has Achieved a Home of Eye-Catching Practicality

By Harling, Amanda | The Evening Standard (London, England), February 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

Striking the Right Note; HOMES AND PROPERTY; by Using 14 Colours on the Walls and Incorporating 50 Cupboards in the Design, Gordana Mandic Has Achieved a Home of Eye-Catching Practicality


Harling, Amanda, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: AMANDA HARLING

By using 14 colours on the walls and incorporating 50 cupboards in the design, Gordana Mandic has achieved a home of eye-catching practicality

GORDANA Mandic moved to England in 1998 after graduating from her course in architecture at the University of Belgrade.

"While I was studying, I supported myself by selling silk scarves and shirts that I hand-painted with my own designs. When I arrived in London I had no difficulty finding work as an architect, despite being foreign and newly qualified," Gordana says.

"There was a building boom and architects were in short supply. The practice that took me on specialised in high-quality domestic refurbishment and holiday-village design in France and Spain, so I was travelling a great deal and taking responsibility for sizable projects. It was an intensive introduction to the business but I learnt a great deal in a few short years."

Gordana soon found her frenetic, rootless lifestyle was becoming less enjoyable. "In order to relax, I started to do silk painting again. Friends liked my very architectural designs and when I was offered the chance to exhibit them in a West End gallery, I accepted immediately."

The exhibition led to a commission from the British Museum shop. She then approached Harrods, which took a number of her scarves, and Selfridges ordered 60. Within a few months Gordana set up a company to market her scarves.

"As more orders came in I realised that hand-painting each scarf was too time-consuming. Using my architectural training I developed a range of complex, computer-generated designs that were the antithesis of the usual floral motifs.

"I started experimenting with different fabrics and we now source fine velvets, silks and wools from all over the world. I am always conscious of my market: smart, professional women who want high-fashion accessories without having to spend a fortune." Her collection, which is sold under the Gordana label, is now exported to more than 30 countries.

Gordana's home is a two-bedroom apartment in a Sixties tower block, a few minutes' walk from the Thames.

"For several years I lived here as a tenant but when the landlord decided to sell, I put in an offer which was accepted. Although it is quite small, there is an impressive feeling of space in the living area due to the large west-facing windows."

Once the flat was hers, Gordana set to work on giving her home a radical facelift. "My partner, Peter Tyler, is a building contractor so he was a huge help when it came to solving technical details and sourcing materials. He studied architecture before becoming a builder, so he understood what I was trying to achieve. A lot of my friends are architects and they tend to live in rather sophisticated surroundings, decorated with pale, neutral colours.

That was exactly what I didn't want."

A total of 14 colours have been used on the walls. "Above all, I wanted the flat to be fun. I work with colour every day, so knowing how to combine contrasting shades is second nature for me."

The starting point for the colour scheme was a dark wood floor. "The main living area enjoys lots of natural light so we were able to use strong colour on the wall. We did many experiments but I've always thought purple is a terrific colour for walls, so we mixed purple pigment into the plaster. A coat of yacht varnish was applied on top, adding a slight sheen and much more depth. …

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