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Authentic Provenance

London, UK

An abundance of craftsmanship and hand-made objects soften the interiors of this London new build, designed by Banda as part of luxury enclave Chelsea Barracks

New-build homes can present a certain freedom for interior architects and designers used to working within the rigid rules of listed buildings and conservation areas. Chelsea Barracks’ handsome new Portland stone townhouses – part of a wider development on this 12.8-acre London site – aim to tread the line between Georgian proportion and elegance, and modernity. Against this backdrop, design and property company Banda has created a carefully crafted interior for one of these homes, underpinned by the skill of artisan makers.

Banda’s founder, Edo Mapelli Mozzi, says that the five-bedroom, 930sqm house “honours the ‘perfectly imperfect’ wabi sabi theory behind human rather than machine-made craft. There’s a feeling of the unexpected – an energy around the blend of the traditional and the contemporary with an emphasis on the ‘hand-made’ which gives us a window into every person involved in the journey of this design.”

The interiors straddle old and new in surprising and unexpected ways. In the entrance hallway, the designers have hung a painting by Anton Byrne-Carter, whose abstract work is highly contemporary, yet inspired by Old Masters; while the use of marble and stone lends a sense of history and permanence. Antique and vintage pieces are intelligently dotted throughout, from a Victorian candelabra to a rustic console.

There is also a focus on British craftsmanship: the Banda-designed, butterfly-jointed angled desk in the study was made in Bruton while north-eastern manufacturer Novocastrian supplied the mirror at the entrance. Novocastrian also worked with Banda on the distinctive bowl-shaped polished bronze chandeliers above the formal dining room table, whose intricate metalwork echoes the intricate, nature-inspired balconies just beyond, designed by Tord Boontje as part of the wider coordinating architecture of the development.

Banda sourced several key pieces from contemporary furniture gallery Studio Twenty Seven. These include the Le Minotaure armchair by Pierre Augustin Rose in the study, a cosier, cuddlier take on a wingback; and the Pearl dining table in the kitchen, by Arthur Vallin, whose wavy tubular travertine legs are a neat visual play on creating something soft-looking from hard stone. The latter has been paired with Laura Gonzalez’ Mawu dining chairs, which have an Alice in Wonderland playfulness with their ball finials and fat tapering legs. These exaggerated forms and witty touches are the style that balances the seriousness of the skill that goes into making them.

There’s a feeling of the unexpected – an energy around the blend of the traditional and the contemporary

In the basement there’s an 11m private pool, steam room, gym and meditation space – a rarity even in the most luxurious of new developments. Although there is a sense of serenity throughout the house, it was particularly important to create a feeling of calm here, says Mapelli Mozzi: “Within this quiet sanctuary we’ve carefully designed four daybeds for ultimate relaxation, which complement vintage Willy Guhl sculptures to celebrate both form and long-lasting function.”

When its homeowners are not relaxing in the spa, they can enjoy the cinema, or split their time between the more formal first-floor dining and living spaces or the more family-friendly ground-floor living room, with its linen-covered sofa and hand-woven rug by Coral & Hive.

The height, light and proportions that are so desirable in a Georgian terrace are also present here. But by focusing on the natural and the handmade, Banda has softened all the crisp newness of the architecture without diminishing its grandeur.