On a weeknight in north London earlier this year, friends of the designers Luke Edward Hall and Duncan Campbell swirled up the stairs to the couple’s Victorian flat, moving toward the unmistakable howl of a party.
Inside, past a mountain of coats on a vintage sleigh bed, Stevie Parle—the chef behind such London hot spots as Pastaio and Palatino—was passing around bruschetta. ELLE Decor A-List designer Martin Brudnizki stretched out on a velvet sofa, drinking from a pink-and-yellow coupe. Under a FontanaArte mirror, gallery owner Victoria Williams chatted with illustrator Fee Greening, dressed head to toe in green, while Plain English founder Katie Fontana ducked into the fray.
Hall and Campbell’s home in Camden is only three tidy rooms and a passageway the color of Colman’s mustard, but still something of a marvel—the brightly painted walls hung with Jean Cocteau prints, ceramic curios from Venice, and a collection of mounted butterflies have been minutely chronicled in the British press. It’s a constantly evolving space, and tonight a sheet was thrown off to reveal a new cobalt-blue kitchen by British Standard by Plain English, topped with an eye-catching pediment and wooden finials. Meanwhile, nearby, the bathtub was overflowing with Champagne.
British Standard is the affordable limb of Plain English, the Suffolk, England–based company known for exquisite, austere Georgian cabinetry. Both brands are manufactured in the same rural workshop, but British Standard units are ready-made, which lowers the price. Already a success in the United Kingdom, Plain English will soon launch British Standard Stateside, with a dedicated New York showroom opening in October.
Aided by Merlin Wright, the design director at Plain English, Hall and Campbell played with scale in their galley kitchen. “We experimented with size by having milk bottles stand in for the finials and a cardboard cutout for the pediment,” Wright says. “Then we would retreat to the furthest corner to see how it looked.”
Design references ranged from Palladian architecture to Emilio Terry. The result is playful and unexpected, with invisible practicalities like integrated appliances and pan drawers.
The Party Hosts
The Kitchen Unveiled
A Decorated Tray
An Illustration of the Kitchen
The inauguration of the new kitchen had to be a supper party. Guests squeezed around a marble-topped table for artichokes, anchovies, and shell-pink radicchio that matched the sitting room walls. “From the ceramic fish plates to the pediment kitchen, the whole experience delights,” Brudnizki says. The talk was about the new Tory government and Hall’s sketches for the Hôtel Les Deux Gares, a Parisian property poised to open soon. In front of a Paolo Buffa rosewood drinks cabinet holding a pineapple ice bucket, A-List designer Beata Heuman and I shared a slice of blood-orange crostata and wondered if our toddlers were asleep. Someone started singing on the speck of a balcony. The tub was still half full, and it was too cold outside to leave now anyway.