The developer showing that money can buy you cool in Primrose Hill
PUBLISHED: 15:43 11 November 2016
Meet the tattooed developer bringing his brand of cool to Primrose Hill for the new generation of wealth, which aspires to edginess.
It’s a story about bricks that sums up how Emmanuel Langley, known as Manny, stands out in the conservative world of property.
The 48-year-old developer had sourced some scruffy, paint-stained bricks for one of the walls in the open plan basement kitchen/dining room of a house in Primrose Hill, but when he arrived to check on the work, he discovered that the builders had placed them all clean side out. The entire wall had to be rebuilt with the distressed face of the bricks showing.
It’s that level of attention to detail combined with an innate understanding of when and exactly how much to rough things up a bit that has given Langley a reputation as a bit of a rockstar developer.
“A lot of people want cool but they don’t know how to get it,” he says. “I come along, I dress very differently, I’m covered in tattoos and people just want to be part of that.”
And so Langley brings it to them, offering a rock n roll aesthetic without the danger and with all the necessary luxuries, comforts and mod cons.
The five-bedroom Primrose Hill property, currently on the market for £4.5m, is a case in point.
Along with the ‘dirty’ wall, touches like the bold teal-walled living room, the matte black painted original banister, and the freestanding copper bath in the top floor guest suite contribute to the house’s louche luxe vibe.
Langley worked with Amos and Amos to get the look, describing their work as “quite classical”, saying he provided the additional lavish touches that give the house its distinctive appeal.
“I try and be slightly directional in what I create,” explains Langley. “I like to push the boat out. A lot of my developer colleagues just farm it out to a design team and the result is like walking into a hairdressers. This house is a little bit boho mixed with Art Deco in a Victorian envelope.”
As a result, Langley says his projects tend to appeal to a new type of wealth. He pictures the Chalcot Road house going to an actor or music producer, someone who’ll appreciate the pub next door, but it could just as easily be a banker nowadays, albeit one with long hair.
“People were scared of it at first but the last house I did I sold to a banker from a big American bank, he was very trendy, had really long hair and he really understood it,” he says. “He wanted me to leave the plates, the cutlery, even the bed linen.
“There’s a new generation of wealth and it’s more creative. I give them a taste of being trendy and being cool, scaled back to be more commercial.”
He describes it as the “where did you get this amazing dining table?” dinner party effect that people aspire to but don’t know how to achieve on their own if they lack the time or the natural eye to source unusual pieces or make unexpected juxtapositions.
Part of Langley’s appeal may lie in the fact that his background couldn’t be more different from the life his buyers and many other property developers lead. He may be based in Monaco nowadays, but he was raised by a single mother in a council flat in Hackney and even had a brief period of homelessness as a child.
It was while he was working as a postman, chatting to an estate agent he delivered post to, that he decided to make the move into agency and then later developing. A bit of time modelling added the international outlook and honed his style sense, and voila, the rockstar developer was born.
The house in Primrose Hill is being sold fully furnished and ready to move into. As Lee Koffman of Aston Chase says: “All you need is to get your toothbrush and move in. You can buy the lifestyle.”
020 7724 4724, astonchase.com
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