Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Design and Salvage

The London Magazine, July 2009

Maria Speake from Retrouvius is interviewed by The London Magazine for a special design edition:

Maria studied architecture at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow and set up architectural and furniture salvage business Retrouvius with husband Adam Hills on the side. 'It was partly out of financial need and partly out of an intuitive revulsion for destruction,' she says. Time spent on building sites gave her an invaluable understanding of materials: 'It was a delicious process of learning about things like tiles, wood and stained glass, which you are very detached from as an architecture student.'

The pair moved the business to London a few years later, setting up their shop just off the Harrow Road. Maria's progress into interior design was accidental. 'I was coaxed into design projects through a wish to show how the incredible materials we found could be used in a contemporary way', she says. She has worked on everything from a Suffolk beach house to a racy London town house for Coco de Mer founder Sam Roddick. Her architectural knowledge gives her a unique approach: 'It made me realise how malleable buildings are,' she says. "They're not static, like people think. But it also gave me a hatred of the aggressive way buildings are so often mauled. It can make me over-sentimental.'

The pair are amazingly skilled at finding unusual pieces of furniture, fabrics and tiles, which they source from a mix of building sites, factory clearances and museums. They have even reclaimed a stone floor from the Armani store on New Bond Street. 'I love pieces that can add stories to a home,' explains Maria.


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