The Modern House meets ... Cassandra Ellis
London-based furniture and homeware designer Cassandra Ellis is well known for her beautifully designed products and interiors. This week we caught up with Cassandra to find out what ignited her interest in design and what she looks for in her perfect home.
What inspired your interest in design and architecture?
I grew up with divorced parents in suburban New Zealand in the 1970s and 80s. It made the essence of home – the beauty and fragility of it – ridiculously important. For me a home was always how it felt rather than looked, so I have always wanted to understand how to create the perfect container.
On a practical level, my great grandfather was the main builder/planner for the town I grew up in, and as a child I obsessed over all the plans and hand-colour photographs. My poppa was a very clever furniture maker, and my weekends were always spent exploring houses and land for sale with my dad – he was obsessed! I tried to buy my first plot of land aged 18 (although it took me another six or so years to do it!) – so it has been a long obsession with the idea of home and home design.
If we could arrange a house swap for you, is there a house or apartment block in the UK that you’d go for?
Any (intact) Georgian house with a big garden and a view in London – a perfect canvas for creating a unique interior. In saying that – if I was allowed to live in Kettle’s Yard (the Cambridge art gallery and house), then I’d be there in a heartbeat.
Tell us about the house you grew up in.
It was a 1970s new-build wooden rectangular box in New Zealand. It had a tin roof, wooden floors, but really silly shaped rooms. It was extremely uncomfortable visually, but it did have a magic garden and a truckload of pets. My grandfather’s houses were beautiful – I have no idea why we didn’t live in one!
When you’re thinking about buying a house, what’s the one thing you won’t compromise on?
Light, flow and storytelling – or potential for these, so that you can breathe. Everything else can be fixed.
Is there a British architect or designer whose work you’re particularly excited by at the moment?
I love the London-based Japanese designer Akiko Hirai. She makes incredibly beautiful, emotive pottery. Perfection in 10cm.
Who are you following on Instagram?
Mostly people who make gardens. My favourite is @lucianogiubbileigardens