For sale: A converted Camden tram shed fit for a fashionista
PUBLISHED: 09:24 19 August 2015
After four happy years in his converted tram shed in Camden, fashion designer Ashley Isham is moving on. He gives us an exclusive tour of his fabulous home
As someone whose stock in trade is designing fabulous frocks for the likes of Florence and the Machine, Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga, it’s no surprise that fashion designer Ashley Isham’s Camden home has an interior which is at once stylish and flamboyant.
Isham’s clothing designs have been lauded in the Guardian as “sophisticated and slinky, if sometimes theatrical to the point of camp.” The same could be applied to the property, a converted tram shed which the designer decorated himself.
The interiors combine an almost obsessive attention to detail – Isham, who is originally from Singapore, recounts how his team thought he was crazy to focus on each aspect in the way he did – with a furniture and art ranging between museum quality pieces (quite literally, one favoured piece is an antique French chair bought at auction from the Rijksmuseum); items picked up from his travels to Bali and other far flung destinations; and a collection of bright, pop-coloured contemporary Chinese paintings: “I love colourful images, they bring life to the walls.”
“I get my furniture from auctions, going to flea markets, restoring old pieces and picking up vintage furniture and nick nacks wherever I travel, so that my home becomes a wonderful odyssey of life,” he says.
This acquisitive tendency is also evident in the story behind a metallic-looking sculpture in the kitchen, a commission from a former Hampstead neighbour.
“I used to live in Frognal and I found out that my neighbour was an established artist called Sydney King, who was a member of the RCA. I was very surprised that he lived so close to me, so I commissioned him to make me a sculpture for my kitchen. When I left I brought it with me.
“There’s texture to it, it’s not just a flat sculpture, it’s actually papier mache, not metal. That’s what I love about it.”
With all the daylight pouring in from the almost entirely glass ceiling the house certainly has the feel of an art gallery, which helps to display the collection at its best.
It’s also a dream for somebody with a professional eye on design. “You see things in fashion through colours so light for me is very important,” explains Isham. “I added a couple of Veluxes to make it lighter and more appealing.
“I also do photography and so I love the idea of shadow and light and I played with that idea on the staircase. The Farrow & Ball paint I used for the staircase is the same tone but slightly lighter than the railings, which creates this really nice contrast.”
Isham was very concerned to preserve the unique, semi-industrial character of the house, whilst also reflecting his own personality. He achieved this by letting the project take on a life of its own after creating mood boards to get his creative juices flowing.
“I think you should come into a project with a general idea and then let the house speak for itself. It’s a very organic process. I do the same when I’m designing fashion.
“I had to respect the building itself, with its wonderful history and what it lends itself to. I love knowing that they used to repair the trams here. It’s cool, it’s not a traditional boring home. It’s very rare to find something like it in Camden. It’s a very special space.”
Isham says he’ll miss Camden for its buzz and also its convenience, with the house within walking distance of the Piccadilly line, the cinema and a Waitrose. But most of all he’ll miss eating under the stars in his high vaulted ceiling living room.
Having worked tirelessly on the property, which he describes as “a bit tired” when he first moved in, Isham is selling up somewhat reluctantly.
“My family used to visit me often, but they’re married now and they have kids so they don’t come as much, which means having a five-bedroom house just doesn’t make sense,” he says. “I feel like I’m a ghost in my own home.”
“I hope that the new owner will look after it with all the tender loving care I have, because it took me a while to come up with it.”
The property is being marketed with Goldschmidt & Howland for £4,850,000