We’ve been familiar with Mini Moderns’s striking printed wallpapers, fabrics, ceramics and home accessories for a while now. What we didn’t know until much more recently, was that the award-winning, eco-sensitive design company – who recently also launched their own paint range (which cleverly uses up recycled paint) was based just around the corner from Below the River’s HQ. But now we know that Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire live in a very nice house-cum-studio-cum-warehouse in Camberwell, so we thought we’d ask them if we could have a snoop around it – and a nose into the south London lives…
Describe your style…
We often describe ourselves as soft modernists. Like most of our furniture and possessions, much of our work has either mid-century or retro influences.
What are your favourite places for buying stuff for your home in south London?
We have a rare George Nelson lamp and some beautiful Skandia lounge chairs from Places and Spaces in Clapham; we also collaborated with them in 2004 on a wallpaper collection, which helped kick start Mini Moderns as a brand. We like Modern Shows – the twice-yearly mid-century furniture fair at Dulwich College, where we now exhibit too – and also enjoy a hunt around the North Cross Vintage Store in East Dulwich. For an old-fashioned sweet treat there is Hope and Greenwood around the corner here, and we like Brixton Village’s mix of independent shops, galleries and great places to eat.
What’s your favourite thing in your home?
Our Carltonware moneyboxes are a prized collection, along with a full table setting of Midwinter Cherry Tree – and a G Plan sideboard that belonged to my mum. Our house is also decorated with our wallpapers and accessories – we always say that if we don’t love living with our products, why should anyone else?
Where would you like to live?
We are happy in Camberwell; here we have a double height studio and warehouse space downstairs, topped off with living space above and a small roof terrace. We’re close friends with many of our creative neighbours, with whom we swap skills.
What is your favourite dish?
Keith: Mark is a great cook so I love nearly everything he makes.
Mark: Dressed crab – nostalgia from holidays on the North Yorkshire coast.
What is your earliest south London memory?
Mark: As a child in the late seventies, I came on three annual holidays to London with my dad and we always stayed in Waterloo. One particular memory is a trip to Greenwich Observatory. I managed to leave my prized Polaroid camera on a bench at the top of the hill. I ran back up for it but it was gone.
Keith: My earliest memory was a visit to the Royal Festival Hall in my late teens. I’ve always been obsessed with the Festival of Britain – so was keen to visit the site and try and locate where all the pavilions from the Festival would have been.
Who or what do you dislike and why?
That our live/work premises is in a part of SE5 which falls between two boroughs. Our next street is in Southwark and we are in Lambeth. These fringe areas are easy to neglect because neither council wants to take responsibility for them. So most of the regeneration happens either in Peckham or in Brixton with very little left for our area.
Where do you hang out?
Our favourite pub is the newly refurbished Sun of Camberwell, which we are lucky enough to have as our local. When the sun is out (fingers crossed) we always get down to Frank’s Campari bar in Peckham – on the top of a multi storey car park, it has fantastic views of London, and is always buzzy. One of many exciting new developments in Camberwell is Tom Leighton’s At Home supper club at House Café on Camberwell Church Street, with Tom spinning some of his favourite records.
Your favourite south London building or landmark?
The Festival Hall. We love the architecture, including its sympathetic refurbishment, it has one of the best shops in London (though we’re biased, as we’re stocked there). And we’ve seen performances there by artists from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci to Elizabeth Fraser. Burt Bacharach is in the diary for July. In the 20-odd years we’ve lived in London, the South Bank has been transformed into what now feels like the cultural heart of the city.
What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
More help in the studio – there are only three of us and we do everything from design, to production, to pick and pack and despatch!
Describe yourself as an animal
Mark is a giraffe and I’m a golden Labrador.