My Modern House: creative director Alex Eagle talks lateral living, modern luxury and life in Soho at her light-filled loft apartment
Through her eponymous fashion and homeware boutique, and The Store – an art, culture, lifestyle and fashion retail concept – creative director Alex Eagle offers shopping experiences that pull together bespoke tailoring, well-cut wardrobe staples, exclusive collaborations with artist, artisans and designers, vintage furniture and more in home-like retail spaces.
Here, we talk to Alex about life in a lateral loft space, why Soho still retains its independent spirit and what modern luxury means to her.
Alex: “A lot of what we sell in my shop enters my life through my home first. If I find that I always use a particular glass, for example, I order them for the shop. When we first opened I used to get heartbroken when things would sell. I remember selling Picasso plates that I bought at auction and it was so difficult to see them go – especially when the market for them exploded.
“I think I’ve gotten over being so sentimentally attached now. The fact is, I can do what I love because people buy, and if they didn’t, I’d just be broke at home with lots of nice stuff, and where would that get me?!
“As you get older you start to care more about things like toasters. As I went from my twenties into my thirties, I suddenly cared less about what Celine pieces I could buy and more about what chic dustbin I could get from The Conran Shop.
“The good thing about being into homeware is that you can get quite a bit for your money, especially if you’re collecting vintage pieces like glassware or silver beakers. And, obviously Donald Judd or Jean Prouvé furniture is wildly expensive, but it’s an investment, you get pleasure out of it every day and it’s not going to suddenly not fit you.
“I love Donald Judd and especially his home on Spring Street in New York. He had a really good use of the empty space, which I feel is what I’m constantly having to balance here: to try not to overfill and remember that empty space is a beautiful as filled space, that there’s a luxury to the space you could fill but don’t.
“Luxury at home in this modern age is light and space. I’m lucky to have those things here but it was also a conscious decision to live laterally because you get all your square footage to enjoy. If we were in a big Georgian house, the square footage would be the same but, while you get to hide the kids’ toys much more easily, you don’t get to see all your space around you.
“I’m attracted to simple things in fashion and furniture. Judd mastered it with sculptural furniture but people like The Row do it well with fashion – it’s not complicated, just good fabrics cut well. The reoccurring theme of genius is these minute alterations: when the photo is taken, how the furniture comes together or the way a garment is cut.
“I’ve got a little cottage in Woodstock that I go to at the weekends and it’s nice to have a totally different space to decorate. I get to think about the rooms individually, whereas here you have to think about the space holistically and use furniture to create zones. In the cottage, each room can have different paint, furniture and art.
“So, I spend weekends there with my two children and two stepchildren but I also love being in London at the weekend. I sort of live for the Sunday morning farmers’ market in Marylebone. It’s chi-chi but villagey, almost like a pretty provincial town.
“Other than that, my life is pretty Soho-centric. I’m based between my shop on Lexington Street and 180 The Strand for The Store, which I walk to, and then in the evenings we tend to do dinners here. The thing is, when you live in Soho, no one finds it hard to pop in because it’s so central.
“I’ve never been a very private person. I have very personal things, but my home has always been a space where anyone is welcome, so the flat is a bit like Piccadilly Circus, with people in and out all the time. I set up my business around the dining room table, my staff are in and out and we shoot things up here for the shop.
“The dining room table has an extension that means it can fit 30 people. What often happens is that I’ll invite five people for dinner and 15 will turn up, but it’s easy here. You almost either need just the family or a lot of people because it always feels a bit weird having four or six around that table. We’ve had Christmas parties for up to 300 people!
“There’s more of a community in Soho than most places I’ve lived in London. What’s nice is that everyone knows my son, Jack, and he’s charmed his way into never paying for anything. He gets free breakfast at Bar Bruno, the flower woman on Berwick Street loves him and always gives him a bunch, and there’s an Italian chocolate shop, Said, around the corner that gives him treats.
“People complain about gentrification and that Soho is changing too much but that’s London – it evolves. Also, you can still buy magazines from privately-owned places, you can still get coffee from non-chain cafes – just make sure you’re not going to Starbucks. It’s easy to buy local and from independent stores in Soho, the most central place in London, funnily enough.”
Alex, how do you define modern living?
“With technology today one can work from wherever they are, so modern living to me is about a choice between your work life and a home balance. Being at home is about unplugging but it’s also about being inspired in your own space – modern living is about finding the right balance between the two.”
Is there a home on The Modern House website that has caught your eye?
“Go big or go home! As we are playing the game of dream home here, 66 Frognal could tempt me out of Soho. It would be a really fun family home with endless possibilities and inspiring architecture. I am obsessed with light and space and the mix of the smooth and the sharp, and this would be a really fun and interesting play on your typical family home.”