In a quiet London street (around the corner from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s house), this stucco-fronted home is unassuming as they come. But step inside the townhouse that gallery owner Nathalie Assi shares with her husband and three children, and its true magic is revealed.
The five-storey abode doubles as a showroom for Nathalie’s design business SEEDS, and as such, striking conceptual objects mingle happily with the family’s furniture and possessions. “Design is part of our lives,” says Nathalie simply. “We sit on the chairs, serve dinner on the ceramics; the children do their homework at the coffee table.”
The idea for the home gallery sprouted when Nathalie began renovating the 19th century home in 2014. “I always envisaged it as a calm, cohesive setting for work and family,” says Nathalie, who worked with architect Carole Asfour-Lin to redesign the interior. They added a glass extension at the back to house a dining room and study area, and incorporated sliding pocket doors in the living areas for flexibility.
“I can shut off the sitting room and it becomes a gallery. In the afternoon, when the children are back, I open it up. The transition happens every day,” Nathalie tells. The ability to open or close off areas means the family can seek out privacy or togetherness as required. “It allows us to have different moments for different moods,” she explains. “We can have a barbecue in the garden, read a book in the sitting room or use the study when we want to concentrate.”
The base palette has been kept deliberately restrained – walls in cool greys and soft pinks, subtle oak flooring – so as not to overshadow Nathalie’s curation of furniture, ceramics, lighting and mirrors by contemporary makers, which are displayed for collectors to view by appointment. “Some of this work is quite experimental, but when clients see it in a domestic setting it feels more approachable,” she explains.
Plus, being able to sit, touch and use objects makes for a greater connection. “I feel that the definition of luxury is changing,” Nathalie says. “We’re looking for things that make us think – and dream. Learning about a maker’s ideas and techniques creates an emotional connection you can’t have with a mass-produced object.”