I recently dropped in on London architect Spencer Fung, the under-the-radar designer best known for his work with the Daylesford organic farm shops and spas (since 2001, he’s worked in partnership with Carole Bamford to develop the brand). Fung has a new book out, Architecture by Hand (Clearview), and I was curious to hear his take on organic modernism, a look he’s perfected over the years.
The book, which covers architecture, interior design, and furniture, is “the result of 10 to 15 years of work,” Fung say, as we leaf through a copy at his dining table. “Sketching is a thinking process for me. I draw to see what interests me. It helps me to observe and to remember, and it fuels ideas and allows me to communicate and explain my story to clients, and to myself.”
Divided into chapters on wood, stone, weave, metal, and finishing touches, interspersed with Fung’s watercolors and line drawings (each a refined exploration of line, tone, and texture), the book goes some way to describing his elegant London home. Let’s take a tour.
Photography by Richard Powers courtesy of Spencer Fung.
Above: Fung lives with his wife, design and creative consultant Teresa Roviras (she’s also the founder of online toy store Hedgehog Shop), and their two children, Aurelia, 13, and Lawrence, 11, in a late Victorian, three-story townhouse in leafy Belsize Park.
Above: “Many of the houses on the street have these huge extensions, but we wanted our home to retain its original character,” Fung says. “We rearranged the layout at the back of the ground floor and opened up the kitchen and dining room, but other than than, the layout remains the same.”
The ground level has gray marble floors throughout.“We always start with the shell—in this case the floor and wall finishes,” Fung says. “If the shell is good, the rest will come over time. “We wanted a floor with texture and warmth,” adds Roviras, who is from Catalunya. “Marble is an extremely practical choice,” she explains. “In Spain, marble floors are really common because they are so easy to clean.”
Above: Fung used the same marble to create the bespoke kitchen.
Above: The dining table is made from chunky white oak—”the king of woods”—and is surrounded by a selection of vintage dining chairs (some of which are Spanish heirlooms) upholstered in black linen.
The walls, ceilings, and cornicing are finished in natural plaster, which has a matte, chalky finish and deliberately leaves the “hand trail” of the plasterer. “I like to bring work-in-progress to the foreground,” explains Fung. “I call it slow architecture.”
Above: “We always get sucked into antique markets and junk shops,” admits Roviras, who is attracted to “sober” objects such as imperfect pewter platters and utilitarian ceramics. Their collection lines the walls of the kitchen and fills the two bespoke vitrines in the dining room.
Above: In the front room, two antique French chairs flank the marble fireplace. Fung’s Asterisk table in whitewashed oak stands in the middle. On the mantlepiece, a salvaged Crittall window has been fitted with a foxed mirror.
Above: The sofa (designed by Fung) has been covered with vintage sacking from a Hungarian cart cover.
Above: On the first floor, an airy study and TV room overlooks the street. The double desk (where Fung sketches everyday) is another Spanish heirloom. The sofa—a modern settle designed by Fung—has concealed storage built into the base.
Above: “We are compulsive gatherers,” admits Roviras. A display unit in the study exhibits the family’s collection of found objects, including jars of sand gathered from the beaches in Hong Kong. Fung grew up in Hong Kong—”a concrete city”—but he has always had an affinity with nature. “I’m looking for it all the time,” he says.
Above: The still, monochrome palette continues in the master bedroom.
Above: In the couples’ dressing room, repurposed shop fittings from D & A Binder serve as vast wardrobes.
Above: A marble wall separates the wet room from the bathing area in the couples’ bathroom.
Above: An unexpected riot of primary colors in Lawrence’s third-floor bedroom. Lawrence has recently designed his own steel-framed bed and bedside table.
Above: Aurelia has just moved into the spare bedroom, where she is keen to keep her parent’s collection of vintage botanical prints and furniture.
Above: The garden is bordered by woven hazel branches, the furniture fashioned from chunky, weathered oak and metal.