Interview with Jordan Cluroe & Russell Whitehead
Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead are two of the leading names in today’s interior design industry. Rising to prominence after Jordan appeared on the BBC 2 show The Great Interior Design Challenge, the husband team then decided to start their own interior design company 2 Lovely Gays. Bringing a colourful and fresh approach to contemporary styling, their work has been featured in coveted interior magazines and in national newspapers, cementing them as industry tastemakers. They share their top interior tips and advice with us below…
What is the best aspect and biggest challenge of working together?
J: (laughs) We get asked this a lot. People are fascinated with the idea of working with a partner. It came out of the fact that as actors we were barely seeing each other and in the time we did get together we always filled it with design. Going to visit museums or design shows, making our own textiles or designing spaces for ourselves and our friends or family. It took over and we have gone with the flow.
R: For us, this has become a lifestyle rather than work. It is all consuming and that’s ok because we love what we do. Sometimes we get the balance wrong and we need to learn to take a holiday here and there, but I’m sure that’s the same for most creative people. The boundaries of work and play are blurred.
How would you describe your own interior style and what is your favourite room in your home and why? R: Our design style is always evolving. We love to learn and grow at this stage in our careers and we are not in a hurry to pin ourselves down. With each of our new clients we try to arrive with no expectations and we adapt to the client to a certain extent. We try to get into their skin and see their home from their perspective, which is why our style is always changing.
J: Colour is something that is a thread throughout all of our interior schemes. We love the use of colour and it’s something that people pick up on. We also have quite a paired back look. Sometimes interiors can look over-styled and that is not real life.
R: Our new house will be a strong example of our own personal style. It’s a total renovation that we are working on every spare second we get in between client projects. It’s going to be something very special.
What is your favourite ever project that you have worked on and why?
J: The impossible question. We do have some favourites inevitably, but generally we fall in love with each new project, otherwise we wouldn’t take it on. You have to give a piece of yourself to each project and we get so excited about what’s around the corner.
R: We really enjoyed our St John’s Wood project, largely because it’s one that we could have happily moved into. It was a massive change of scene for us as it was a brutalist apartment block so it was really exciting. Also, the client on that project was perfection. They really let us go for it and didn’t say too much throughout. They let it happen and in the end they loved it.
What do you think is the secret to great design?
R: Joy, wonder and humanity. Sounds really intense, but it’s really very simple. A space has to work for the person living there, it has to function. But it also has to give you joy on a daily basis. And in every home, no matter the size, there is always space for a little bit of wonder. Just a touch to lift you up, whether that may be a piece of art, a floral display, or totally mirrored wc. A moment of wonder is always a necessary ingredient.
What is your most prized possession?
R: A small Royal Doulton white pony that we named Paul. He has been with us since we first got together and he has been broken several times and been hastily repaired with superglue. We just can’t bear to part with him no matter how many knocks he’s taken. It only adds to his beauty.
J: I would say it’s our one of three, limited edition, artists’ proofs from Kris Knight. We have been in touch with Kris for the past 4 years as we are big fans of his work and he very kindly offered us one of his prints that he had personally overpainted with a crown of flowers. It’s a painfully beautiful image and we will cherish it forever.
R: Art is very important to us.
What are your top three tips to quickly revamping a room’s style?
J: Hire an interior designer! Ha ha, no but seriously, hire an interior designer.
R: (laughs) Paint, it’s easy, inexpensive and changeable. Be bold. Gone are the days of the feature wall. Paint all 4. Don’t forget about ceilings too…it’s the most underused surface in an interior.
J: Declutter, but don’t de personalise. It sounds obvious but we can go into a space and edit at least 20% of things. This doesn’t mean getting rid of things you love. It means moving things you LIKE so the things you LOVE can really sing!
R: Finally lighting. And go big. One of the most commonly made mistakes we find, is with lighting. Get a new lamp but go BIG on the scale.
What advice would you give other people looking to start a career in the interiors industry?
J: You have to be passionate. It’s not all cushions and curtains. It’s important to have life experience and have an idea of business! You also have to be confidant to deliver on your ideas and convictions.
R: Collaboration is very important to us and can open up a whole world of possibilities.
If you could design the interior of any space in the world where would it be and why?
R: We take our inspiration from people as well as places. For us it’s about making your experience of the space you inhabit a better one! So picking a space is difficult as for us it’s about who is going to use that space.
J: We would love to work on an interior in New York though because we have a passion for that city and the design there is really exciting.
What’s next for 2 Lovely Gays – what does the rest of the year have in store for you both?
J: We have a super busy year. Several big interiors projects, we are off to Milan Design fair in April. We are very excited to announce that we are designing a capsule collection of bed linen for Secret Linen company that will launch later this year (around September) and also have several exciting prospects lined up that we can’t talk about yet. You will have to watch this space.
R: And on top of all that we are renovating our house, a detached Victorian property in south London. This project is going to be a showcase for our interior design perspective and for a select group of creative collaborations with designer makers, artists and design brands. We want to push some boundaries.