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Gstaad Palace, nestled in the mountains

An interview with 1508 London’s Creative Director, Louise Wicksteed

25. 07. 16   :   The Epistle

Louise Wicksteed is a creative director with big ambitions. Her tireless enthusiasm for the design process, her collaborative approach and her ability to align strategic and creative thinking have helped to drive 1508 London‘s success since its launch in 2010. We caught up with Louise to find out more about what makes her tick – her passions, interests and sources of inspiration – and asked her about 1508 London’s latest projects.

Louise Wicksteed

What attracted you to the world of interiors and design?

‘I have always had a creative disposition – even as a child, I would rearrange all the furniture and get the paintbrush out! Luckily, my parents were very easy going and would often help me turn my ideas into reality. Art and design were my strongest subjects at school, so there was a very natural progression into three-dimensional design and, eventually, interiors.’

Who do you most admire in your industry?

‘There are so many, but a few that spring immediately to mind are Andrée Putman, David Collins, Kelly Wearstler, Joseph Dirand and Rose Uniacke – designers who combine old and new to create layered, sophisticated interiors.’

What are your top three interiors brands?

Soane Britain is one of my favourites – its timeless collections represent the best of British craftsmanship. I also love Luke Irwin’s hand-knotted, custom-made rugs; and Francis Sultana is a must for quirky one-offs.’

Luke Irwin rug from his new Mosaic collection
Cumulae Caractacus, Mosaic collection, Luke Irwin

You’ve travelled a lot – which hotels really stand out for you and what makes them special?

‘I love to travel and have stayed in some beautiful places, but my favourites would have to be The Parker in Palm Springs for mid-century cool; Claridge’s in London for its 1930s art-deco glamour; and Gstaad Palace in Switzerland for sheer drama – it’s like stepping into a fairy tale.’

Gstaad Palace, nestled in the mountains
Gstaad Palace

Top London hangouts for great food and drinks?

‘A wonderful place for old-school glamour and cocktails is Le Fumoir in Claridge’s. I love the velvet seating, low lighting and vintage photographs. Dishoom in Shoreditch is always worth a visit and reminds me of my travels in India; and for steak and a good glass of red wine after a long walk on Hampstead Heath, I would recommend The Bull and Last.’

View of the bar at Le Fumoir in Claridge's
Le Fumoir Bar, Claridge’s

Who are your favourite artists?

‘I have always loved art – I studied it both at school and university. I particularly love portrait paintings, as well as 3D design and sculpture. Favourite artists include Frida Kahlo, Gustav Klimt, Naum Gabo, Louise Bourgeois and Yves Klein. Charles Napier Hemy, whose artwork hangs in the Tate, is a distant relative on my father’s side. He depicted beautiful seascapes – the colours and mood really capture the northeast of England, where my father grew up, so his paintings are close to my heart.’

Running for home - painting by Charles Napier Hemy
Charles Napier Hemy, Running for Home [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Which are your must-visit museums and galleries?

‘It’s so hard to choose! A few of my favourites include Room 131, the Glass Room at the Victoria & Albert; the Hermitage Museum of art and culture in St Petersburg; and the National Portrait Gallery.’

Do you have a favourite fashion brand?

‘If I’m shopping for investment pieces I like vintage items. Circa Vintage London and Rellik are my go-to places. For a great independent shop with unusual designs, I head to Folk in Holborn.’

What would you choose to do on a precious day off?

‘It would have to be searching for one-offs in Alfies Antique Market in Marylebone. It’s a popular hangout for collectors and interior designers – I love the bohemian atmosphere and the sheer variety of collectables.’

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

‘It would have to be Las Salinas beach in Ibiza. I have family in Ibiza and spent many childhood holidays there so it is the source of many happy memories.’

Las Salinas beach in Ibiza
Las Salinas, Ibiza. Photo: Federico Capoano / CC BY

If you hadn’t chosen interiors and design as a career, what do you think you would have done?

‘I’d like to think I would have become a portrait painter and/or sculptor. I like being hands on.’

Tell us a little about 1508’s current and upcoming projects. 

‘We’ve had a great start to the year, with several exciting projects already in progress. We’re working on several private client projects across London, including two lateral apartments in Royal Park Crescent. We’re also about to start work in St Petersburg on a project with Squire & Partners. We’re part of another very exciting project, too, but it’s still under wraps so my lips are sealed – you’ll have to keep an eye on our blog and social media channels for the big announcement!’

It was recently announced that 1508 London has been chosen to create this year’s Champagne Bar at Decorex International. Tell us more!

‘The Champagne Bar is always a popular space at Decorex, for obvious reasons! We’re delighted to be designing the 2016 installation, which will be a contemporary take on classical architecture. I don’t want to give too much away yet, but visitors can expect a playful design with simple geometric shapes, sculptural details and a pared-back palette. We can’t wait!’