New Road ResidenceDesigned to Live In
“We had been booking friends, clients, and designers into hotels for years, so perhaps, subconsciously, we were responding to their needs and desires.”
Inside a beautifully restored 1797 town house, James Brown, the founder of fashion boutique Hostem, and artistic director Christie Fels, have created a quiet, considered retreat. The three-bedroom, four-storey house in Whitechapel’s Myrdle Street conservation area serves as a guest residence with no minimum stay. The house has been renovated in stages, and Hostem consider themselves the latest in a succession of loving guardians.
In deference to their predecessors, Hostem have made as few interventions to the property as possible. The interiors honour the building’s Georgian bones, but a modern philosophy has altered the feel of the spaces. Rooms are more open plan, while linen drapes and blinds conspire to make the bustling streets of Whitechapel outside vanish. Their decision to open the house to guests came naturally as the project unfolded. “Nothing was forced and nothing was rushed,” Fels explains. “We had been booking friends, clients, and designers into hotels for years, so perhaps, subconsciously, we were responding to their needs and desires.”
Guests can buy many of the items they discover at 33 New Road. A boot room at the front of the house is stocked with available pieces, ready to take home. The handmade Norvegr eiderdown duvets in the bedrooms can also be made to order. It is an opportunity for Hostem to articulate their stance on design, and collaborate with friends and brands in a unique way. Homeware is supplied by Labour and Wait, a brand Hostem had wanted to work with for some time, and the art collection was curated by Stuart Shave of Modern Art in London. Faye Toogood’s sculptural, Roly-Poly table and chairs appear alien, yet also somehow at home in the 18th century front room, while an exquisite collection of Viennese crystal by J & L Lobmeyr catches the soft daylight from the ground floor window. Elsewhere, Crane Cookware, Lazy Eye Ceramics, Once Milano bed linen, and Haeckels skincare appear alongside furniture by Pierre Jeanneret, Hans Wegner, Christopher Howe, and Rose Uniacke.
There are working fireplaces on every floor, and while there isn’t a television set to be found, the house has wifi and a great sound system. Reading material has been selected by Clayton Littlejohn, Reader in Philosophy at King’s College, and the wine cellar is stocked by Jérémie Cometto-Lingenheim of Primeur, Hostem’s favourite restaurant in London. In Brown and Fels’s curation, one detects a wariness of the modern tendency to rush and seek superficial distraction; their intention is to both meet and challenge modern expectations. What Fels describes as a “happy tension” between the period surroundings and distinctive contemporary design provokes alertness and curiosity, inviting guests to fall into a contemplative, yet conscious space.