Behind the scenes: United House

Meet the designers who brought TOG's Notting Hill launch to life

It takes a group of talented collaborators to launch a new TOG building. For United House in Notting Hill, TOG's latest opening, the design team joined forces with the award-winning Universal Design Studio. Here, the studio’s Daisy Roth and Becky White chat with TOG designers Nasim Koërting and Emma Archer about how they made it happen.

Daisy: Notting Hill has a rich history and the building itself also was inspiration. It was designed by architectural firm Squire & Partners, and taking on a shell and working with it respectfully is always really exciting. There are some interesting features – timber ceilings and exposed structures, for example – and the floor plan itself is quite unusual. It meant we could get creative with how we planned the space.

Nasim: I find the bones of the building really interesting, and the elements we inherited are really nice to work with. 

Daisy: A lot of our process was about taking what we had and creating a space that felt like a home from home. 

Becky: One of our references was [the artist] David Hockney's former flat, which is in west London. He had a really eclectic apartment with quite a neutral background that took on this lively but lived-in feel.

Daisy: You see some distinctive typographies when you walk around Notting Hill – there are the grand stucco-fronted houses, the terraces with big bay windows, and the cobbled mews. It gave us this idea of having ‘outdoor’ spaces in the building: the communal areas and circulation spaces. We reflected what we’d seen in the local architecture in our use of colour; the end-grain flooring and distinctive tile finishes that are based on the light grey and black mosaics we saw on people’s front porches.

Emma: From a styling perspective, as soon as Notting Hill was mentioned, I knew it would be a super-exciting project. For me, it was a chance to be more creative. The research you did at Universal was so detailed and the concepts were so well-rounded, I could just flow with it. It gave us a great opportunity to work with local makers and people who really care about their craft.

Daisy: We tried to select less recognisable pieces when it came to picking the furniture, getting an eclectic mix that could look like a selection that someone’s chosen over five or 10 years for their living room. 

Becky: We’ve struck a balance between design classics, like Saarinen side tables, and contemporary chairs. It really is a mix of old and new.

Nasim: It definitely feels like you’re seeing an extension of someone’s house.

Emma: And the way Universal designed the space lets you go to your own little nook to work. I can really see people using the building in the same way they work from home.

Nasim: What started the idea of adding the meditation room? 

Daisy: TOG already had a relationship with OPO, who do the guided audio meditations in other TOG buildings. It seemed like a good location to implement some thinking around wellness and mindfulness, and the space plan presented us with a few areas that would lend themselves to a dark, private space.

Becky: In all our projects, we try to think about other programmes or additions that might work. We explored the idea of a recording studio or yoga space, but the meditation room seemed like the most natural thing to do.

Nasim: The art in the room will be one of the most exciting finishing touches. There was a really strong feeling that we wanted to use real, original pieces, not prints or one-dimensional work, to add texture and authenticity. 

Becky: I’m really excited about the artwork throughout the building. We have some big pieces – and some sculpture. It’s so nice to have something three-dimensional.

Emma: They were bespoke pieces, too. Pretty much everything has been made for the space by working directly with the artists. That’s the nice thing about styling the finishing touches of the space – I don’t think this is something that will be limited just to one phase. I’ll be adding to United House for a long while yet, just as if it was my own home.

Hannah Forrester is TOG's creative copywriter

Find out more about United House here