Scandi chic meets happy memories at a Danish fashion designer’s flat – The Guardian

It’s hard to believe there’s even an alleyway in east London left ungentrified, but push on through Clapton and you hit Lea Bridge Road, an artisanal coffee shop free zone. Though not for long. Regeneration plans cast the area as a mini Holland with segregated cycle lanes. There’ll be Copenhagen style crossings and vibrant public spaces.

Fashion designer Peter Jensen, who moved here in 2014, is amused by the evocation of liberal European culture. As a Dane he’s used to the British love of Scandinavian style. “England is a business country and British people are much better at grabbing opportunity than the Scandinavians, so that style has become a thing to buy,” he says. “But you guys get bored easily, too. Scandi chic will die down. That obsession with hygge… now that was strange. For Danish people, that’s a state of mind. You can’t buy it.”

Clean design: bedroom furniture courtesy of Chase & Sorensen.



Clean design: bedroom furniture courtesy of Chase & Sorensen. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

Jensen’s flat shows his own outlook is pretty hygge. The warm glow of candles illuminates Bjørn Wiinblad chinaware and Iittala glasses from his childhood. Even his sofa and bedroom furniture is Danish, courtesy of Chase & Sorensen, a furniture shop which specialises in Scandinavian design in nearby Dalston.

But Jensen is just as sympathetic to the origins of his Lea Bridge flat. It was built by Thomas C Warner, one of the largest landowners in the area in the 19th century, whose east London building spree of homes for working and middle-class families created the slate roof, yellow-brick two-storey homes that still line many Walthamstow streets today. As nearby properties have been renovated, Jensen has collected discarded original doors to replace substandard fittings in his flat. Sanded down to reveal the wood grain, they add to the warm atmosphere of his stripped interiors. “That’s one very Scandinavian thing – I hate carpets.”

Sentimental collector: Peter Jensen at home.



Sentimental collector: Peter Jensen at home. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

Jensen’s fashion label takes on a new muse each season. His inspiration is always a forceful woman, often cult figures, such as pools winner Viv Nicholson, or Meryl Streep or ice-skater Tonya Harding. “I think it goes back to my upbringing. I was brought up by women, and Denmark in the 1970s was run by women.”

Everywhere are mementos from his collaborations. Laurie Simmons’ artworks featuring his clothes hang over the fireplace. Julie Verhoeven’s illustrations of Barbara Hepworth, Nina Simone, Jodie Foster and Gertrude Stein, for his label’s 15th anniversary collection decorate the hall. A Tim Walker photo of Jensen with model Karen Elson is on the kitchen wall.

‘The bottle is a brilliant design. Why wouldn’t I keep that?’ Jensen’s Chanel No 22 empties collection.



‘The bottle is a brilliant design. Why wouldn’t I keep that?’ Jensen’s Chanel No 22 empties collection. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer

Jensen is a sentimental collector. The objects he lingers over are all personal. The vinyl collection he has had forever; the glassware is from his mum’s wedding: “My crockery is all from my fake gran. My dad’s mum had eight children and she was really tired, so my dad lived with this old lady – my fake gran She was very naughty and funny and I loved her very much.”; and he’s kept every bottle of Chanel No 22 he’s ever bought. “The bottle is a brilliant design. Why wouldn’t I keep that?”

Seeing beauty in the off-kilter has served Jensen well in his profession – and made him a wonderful home.

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