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From the Archive

From the Archive

A sensualist’s home in Hampstead


In 2007 Retrouvius worked with Sam Roddick, founder of Coco de Mer, a brand associated with beautiful lingerie and empowering sex accessories for women. Sam enlisted Maria to help her create a site that could perform equally beautifully as family home and as the stage for erotic adventures. Ten years later, she reflects on the process that went into creating her home.    

“I felt like Maria was as flexible as a set designer: her references were wide and vast. I felt so excited by her creativity, her references, her sensibility, and also her sense of enquiry. She was almost less interested in function than she was in feeling. There’s something theatrical, and very psychological about the way she works. 

She’s amazing at creating transitions between spaces. She split my kitchen space into two using colour: in the kitchen a light stone colour has been used in the paint and the tiled wall. Then, there’s an olive-green beam, and a quite contrasting colour of blue-green-grey. It’s all one space, but suddenly she has created a very distinctive division utilising paint colour: a line that you step over. Tonally, they work so well, but energetically you move into the space differently.

The innovation between me and Maria was when I was bringing the sexuality in: she elevated my taste 100 per cent, and taught me a lot. I learnt a lot from her as a creative, as well. Each house Maria works on does hold its own personality. When you see my house alongside everybody else’s, you can tell that there is an element of sexuality that’s pushing in the forefront. Then when you go into somebody else’s home, there might be a sense that what they do and love is to be immersed in books. Maria is very aware of things like touch. Something has to feel good. I brought the sexuality and she brought a huge amount of sensuality to that.

The way that she applies space is a process of her understanding the physicality of how you use it, asking: How do you like to live? Where do you think you’re going to be situated? What are your needs? How do you walk around a room? Do you like lying down? When you lounge, are you sitting up, are you lying down? She’s helping you create a treasure map of your natural rhythm. 

She’s not a purist, so something Victorian will definitely go with something modernist, which will definitely go with something contemporary: she does not see restriction. Salvage is everything to them: You don’t go to Adam or Maria unless you’re willing to take on the philosophy. They rebirth old things in a new, modern context: they reframe things. I love the whole notion of pre-loved stuff because I feel I’ve got something that holds its own stories. If you took it out of its context and put it in a landfill or a dump, you’d think it was just rotten and old. I think that’s part of a very strong philosophical idea that they both have: the fact that we don’t need more shit in the world, we’ve got enough. I do feel like they have been the forbears of that movement.

I loved working with Maria’s creativity. Sometimes I pushed her out of the boundary of her own comforts, as well, but she was really the captain of the ship. She’s just a treasure trove. You can see that depth of personality being played out into her homes. It made me feel welcome in my home, and I didn’t have to adjust to my home like it was a strange friend. I think she’s much more inspired by nature than she is by hard design. She’s a natural sculptress: She helps you sculpt the space that best reflects you.”

Petrified: Martino Gamper and Rainer Spehl


For their We Make Remake project Martino and Rainer made, exhibited and sold 50 pieces of furniture over the space of six months. Guided by a philosophy very close to our hearts, all were constructed from parts salvaged from broken, discarded and damaged furniture. We showed Martino and Rainer’s pieces in the exhibition Petrified at our Kensal Rise warehouse in 2002. We Make Remake was a precursor to Martino’s influential and widely exhibited project 100 Chairs in 100 Days, first shown in London in 2007.

An Urban Beach house for a Swinging Bachelor


One of our first architectural projects in London for photographer Guy Hills: a space in which he could live, work and throw fabulous parties.

“The brief was very simple: I asked for an urban beach house. My studio was downstairs, together with a darkroom and makeup room: upstairs I had my bachelor pad. The building was just an empty shell: Maria built a wardrobe, kitchen, tables and a platform bed beneath a glass ceiling. The floor was white marble pebbles set in resin. It was quite simple, but a very clever use of space. When you live in a studio flat and have a bed that doubles up as a sofa it’s never very convincing: by having the bed above the room, you felt like you were in a different space. It was hanging on very fine steel: it was very cleverly engineered. When busses came rocketing past on the road outside you’d feel the vibrations. The bed was a staging place on the way to look at the stars.”

photographs by Henry Wilson