The design of a fine piece of jewellery takes time and patience. Each gem-set creation is crafted to be a thing of beauty and every clasp, link and chain is skilfully engineered to ensure precise movement and durability. Jewellery making is an art where form and function are in perfect harmony.
It's a way of working that is instinctive for jewellery designer Zoe Robinson and, inevitably, her meticulous attention to detail has spilled over into the design of her home. "The apartment had to be as beautiful behind the surface as the elements that are seen," she declares. "The engineering side also appealed to me. I didn't want decorative elements just for the sake of it. Every individual piece had to earn its place."
To fulfil her dream, Zoe actively searched for an apartment that needed renovation so that a sophisticated interior could be created within the stripped-back walls. From the beginning, friend and interior architect Rupert Mann of creative consultancy Red Square was brought in to advise on the project. He accompanied her to view all prospective properties, so that they could discuss ideas for a new design that would actually work in the space.
Their search for the perfect living quarters came to an end when they found a Victorian property in the heart of London's bustling metropolis. It met all of Zoe's requirements: high ceilings, capacious rooms and large windows.
Her brief was to create a minimalistic space that was extremely functional. "I wanted the home to do all the work," says Zoe. Client and designer worked closely to formulate a unique and truly personal interior. It was a long and laborious process, but with every meeting the project became slicker. "In the end, we wanted to incorporate all our ideas — we just got carried away with the whole thing," Zoe laughs.
Their decision not to compromise has been richly rewarded. The resulting space features a polished and intelligent design that caters to Zoe's every wish. Streamlined surfaces in lavish finishes create a feeling of calm, while sleek exteriors open up to reveal hidden storage and fittings, so the apartment can be effortlessly maintained.
"The concept balances crisp architectural design and precise detailing. The combination of jewel-like elements — mirror, etched glass, cool steel — and warm creams reflects the unique style and work of the client," explains Rupert. "This harmony creates a lush and liveable space, conducive to her busy lifestyle and easily adaptable for entertaining or quiet relaxation."
In the main living area, the kitchen and living room merge seamlessly into one multifunctional space. This open-plan arrangement helps effect an Informal, friendly atmosphere. The kitchen area, comprising a bank of units that line the back wall of the room, melts into the background.
Once opened, the units reveal a fully functional cooking zone complete with oven, hob and sink. This fits snugly within the compact space, ensuring everything is within arm's reach. The island unit fulfils a similar purpose, disguising the fridge-freezer and washing machine behind its seemingly solid structure.
It's an ingenious deigns that provides Zoe with all the fittings and benefits that a modern kitchen can offer. Yet, once the doors are dosed, a feeling of 'order is restored and the room reverts to a place of rest and relaxation. "It's so clever," Zoe remarks. "I've entertained friends in this room who were amazed when I've gone to get ice for their drinks — they just hadn't realised that the kitchen was there."
Continuing the quiet theme in the bathroom, limestone clad surfaces and slick glass dements promote a feeling of some "I actually wanted limestone throughout the apartment but this was not possible," explains Zoe, "so we over-compensated in the bathroom."
Again, the art of illusion is brought into play. The bath appears to sink into the floor, but actually stands at normal height — it is the rest of the room that was raised to meet the rim of the bath. This technique helps to maintain the clean, minimal lines of the room, while utilizing every inch of precious space. Towering above the tub, a central limestone column is simply crowned by a glass basin with swooping swan neck tap. Above, a basic chrome frame supports a mirror and storage for accessories. One corner of the room is devoted to a contemporary steam shower room (a must for Zoe), again finished in limestone. To prevent the feeling of an enclosed and separated space, expansive glass doors provide access to the wet area, while glass shelving flanks each side of the shower column.
Lighting enhances the mood. The simple spotlights in the ceiling give the steer dressed space warmth by accentuating its colour. They emit enough light for everyday tasks. Two spots over the aqua basin and shower cabin are perfectly positioned to reflect the green glow of the glass and bathe the entire room in a wonderfully atmospheric light. "It turns the space into the most beautiful room; it's almost like a 1950s film set," enthuses Zoe.
Unsurprisingly, the bedroom is a haven of tranquillity. White walls are accentuated by opulent fabrics in muted shades of green and grey, while order is maintained by keeping clutter firmly behind closed doors. Rupert constructed a bank of cupboards to house Zoe 's collection of bags and shoes and a mirror is inset so that dressing and preening are confined to one area in the room. "The whole thing had to be completely relaxed — nothing could antagonise," says Zoe. "You can have beautifully creative detail but Scan be overdone."
This fuss-free approach is enhanced by technology. Each light can be controlled by a single switch in the room and a button has been provided to activate the closing of the door. Furthermore, discreetly hidden speakers throughout the apartment ensure that Zoe can move from room to room to the sound of music.
The experience of living in a home tailor-made for her needs has certainly had a positive effect on Zoe. "The apartment operates in the same way that I do. I can leave it for weeks, come back, and it looks the same as when I left: she says. "Yet, within seconds of being inside, by opening a few doors and turning on a couple of lights, you can feel like you've been there throughout the last six months"