Furnishings: Glamour Guy

<< Back to Robb Report, September 2003
  • Jenny Wilhide

“I want to get away from the predictable in British interiors and introduce confidence, color, wit, and glamour,” pronounces Mark Humphrey. The 32-year-old has created furniture for Fendi Casa and a select group of private clients, who include Ringo Starr and the late George Harrison.
 
The couture side of Humphrey’s work can be viewed at his studio in the Montevetro Building (designed by architect Richard Rogers) in Battersea. Inside the studio, a crystal shower door is hand-engraved with the face of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks, and Fayum portraits, hand-painted on teak, are inlaid in a black stone wall.

Now the design maverick has installed a collection of furniture, lighting, and accessories in his new, more informal shop in West London. “The work I do for private clients is like couture. This is my pret-a-porter,” he says. The three-story Georgian townhouse is set up more like a home than a showroom and glows with rich red walls and inlaid colored marble floors. Humphrey worked for society decorator Nicky Haslam in the 1990s, and that flamboyant style is still in evidence. A maple floor lamp with a nickel base has a shade made from game bird feathers—pheasant, gray goose, and guinea fowl. In homage to James Bond, the Q Table, a round dining table, has a central chamber that rises to reveal storage for a bottle of wine and a pair of glasses.

 

Humphrey’s new designs fall somewhere between James Bond gadgetry and the subtle sophistication of The Thomas Crown Affair. “Recently I have been inspired by ancient Egypt, the Italian Renaissance, and the Louis XVI style, and my materials are increasingly diverse,” he says. His contemporary version of a Louis XVI commode is made of glass, steel, antique silver leaf, Perspex, and hand-stitched saddleleather drawers covered in a Canadian exotic wood veneer ($15,000).


The main focus of the new collection is a one-piece bathing cabinet—a tub and basin in laminated carbon fiber set into a curved Scandinavian masur birch wood frame ($33,000). For the kitchen, a single sculptural piece includes fridge, oven, Angolan granite counters, sink, cupboards, and an elevated glass table with a central hotplate and cocktail chairs ($75,000).
“I’m trying to achieve interiors as precious as fine jewels and as technically perfect as a Patek Philippe watch,” Humphrey says. “I like to use the latest techniques and materials as well as the processes, materials, and crafts of the ancient world. At the new showroom, I can do this for a wider clientele.”
 
Mark Humphrey, +44.207.348.7500. By appointment only.

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