Death of the show flat | Interior

Death of the show flat | Interior

Death of the show flat | Interior

Death of the show flat | Interior

Death of the
show flat

In 2018, it was reported that half of new-build luxury London flats weren’t selling.

Various reasons were posited – from an overstuffed market to Brexit uncertainties and anxious overseas investors. But in the end, these speculations were overshadowed by a more controversial assertion: New-builds aren’t selling because… “they’re all the same”.

We’d argue that not all new-builds are the same – not by a long shot – yet still this statement does chime with how spectacularly buyers’ and renters’ demands have evolved over the years.

No longer will a white-gloss kitchen or accent wall splashed with shades of Pixie Breath or Mermaid’s Flipper woo people into spending the big bucks. The market has wised up and matured exponentially. And in this sense, the show flat with its prim table settings, obligatory cafetiere at the end of the bed and incongruous fake foliage is being quickly replaced by something more humanly-endeared, long-lasting and statement-driven.

“Modern customers are very savvy”.

Will Watson, The Buying Solution

Death of the show flat | Interior

Death of the show flat | Interior

Sophie Ashby, Floral Court, Covent Garden.

The most successful developments, both for rentals and sales, are created with a particular person in mind. Rooms are crafted to captivate that person as soon as they walk through the door. In essence, the more personalised the product, the greater the results. And this, according to Will Watson, means “prioritising character over creating a showy 5-star hotel suite”.

One-size-fits-all luxury has lost its lustre. As Tom Mann of Savills puts it: “You can’t understate the importance of artwork and colour.

It can make the difference between the artificiality of a show apartment and a space – a home – that someone wants to live in”.

This is why the need for capacious storage, intuitively practical layouts and durable materials is at an all-time high. As Jacob Sullivan at Regal London affirms, “A variety of stone, marble, porcelain, solid wood floors, underfloor heating, comfort cooling – they’re a prerequisite now”.

“You’ve got to be able to deliver a clear vision”.

Dominic Grace, Savills

Death of the show flat | Interior

Death of the show flat | Interior

Elle Decoration, Chapter House, Covent Garden.

Some maverick developers strike up PR-able collaborations to create compelling stories with an ownable vision. Londonewcastle did just that when they approached ELLE Decoration to oversee the interior design of an apartment in Chapter House, a charismatically renovated Victorian property in the heart of Covent Garden, designed by architects Apt.

Bringing ELLE’s ethos to life in a physical space was a first. But beyond this headline-grabber, it was ELLE’s approach to the design that truly enriched the narrative. They worked closely with creative consultants, art galleries, design archivists, plant specialists and colour experts. They also made a point of showcasing the best of British talent, carefully curating an impressive assortment of pieces by UK-based artists and craftsmen.

And while the end result is clearly luxurious, it’s also quietly assured, which cunningly complements the current move towards inconspicuous consumption. Discreet wealth has become the new status symbol as rich buyers eschew emblems of materialism – like big-name designer labels – for high-quality, one-off, artisanal pieces which, while no less expensive, aren’t so shouty.

What’s especially clever about their approach, is that they’re designing for multiple generations and tastes in one harmonious scheme. They can do this because they’ve got a clear vision-led story to tell – and stories have the power to transcend nearly all perceived barriers.

“Nail the basics and you can lead the market.”

Luke Mills, CBRE

The Dumont | Bedroom | Angel O'Donnell

The Dumont | Bedroom | Angel O’Donnell

Angel O’Donnell, The Dumont, London

Get it right and a flagship development can play a key role in urban regeneration and herald the growth of new vibrant and culturally diverse communities.

Designs that take inspiration from a location’s history, culture and architecture become an integral part of an area, loved landmarks in their own right.

Generic has had its time. Yesterday’s show flat is dead. What sells now is warm, human and unabashedly characterful designs; ownable creations with smart layouts and stories to tell. That’s what people want to live in – and they’re willing to pay handsomely for it.

Curiously, when we finished interior designing one of the big apartments in The Dumont, Albert Embankment, nearly every marketer, buying agent and journalist who saw it said one of two things: “Isn’t it homely” and “It’s so colourful”. ‘Homely’ and ‘colourful’ came with an £8.5 million price tag and sold, with all the furniture, artwork and fittings, within two months.

A big shoutout to everyone who contributed to our newsletter. Your insights were invaluable. Space prevented us from including all the wisdom we received – but it helped to shape the end product nonetheless.

Header image: sourced from Glebe.

Image 1: sourced from Studio Ashby.

Image 2: sourced from Elle Decoration.