Interview with 2 Lovely Gays

13 September 2015 | Imogen Greenberg

Design Junction is back this September as part of the annual London Design Festival. Design Junction brings together global brands and is a world-class destination for contemporary interior design. London-based interior designers 2 Lovely Gays will be running a clinic and pop-up shop there this year, helping solve interior design questions and conundrums. London Calling caught up with them, to find out what their secret to transforming a space is.

London Calling: Hi Russell! Hi Jordan! So you’re doing a design clinic and master class at this year’s Design Junction. Do you enjoy these sorts of events?

Russell Whitehead: Yes but the nerves are kicking in now we’re gearing up to it. But we both trained as actors actually so the whole getting on stage thing isn’t too much of a bother.

LC: Do you have a go-to piece of advice you give people, a motto of sorts?

RW: There isn’t really a single thing. But because we trained as actors, we’re both really interested in people. We like to get to the bottom of what makes somebody tick, rather than having a one size fits all approach.

Jordan Cluroe: It’s about making an interior for the individual and not just to show off to your neighbours, or show how much money you’ve got.

LC: What investment piece would you recommend to a Londoner on a budget?

RW: Paint! The oldest story in the book but we’re big fans of paint and wall finishes. But also fabric can have a massive impact and there are some amazing fabrics out there that aren’t crazy expensive. We love a bit of soft furnishing!

JC: I also think if you’re going to invest in one big piece, what we really champion is art. Go to graduate shows and pick up some young upcoming star of the future!

LC: What’s the biggest inspiration to your designs at the moment?

RW: Wow, so many things! We’re actually in the midst of working on a book at the moment – I don’t know if I should say that! What we’ve realised through doing that, is that we’re very influenced by pop culture. Because we trained as actors, we go to the theatre, we see film, we go to the opera house and a lot of art galleries. So I suppose culture in general influences a lot of our work.

LC: How did you both get in to interior design from acting?

RW: We started a stall at Greenwich Craft Market selling textiles. We quickly realised we wanted to be creating a big picture. We got an opportunity to design a hotel in Kent. It was originally just a suite, and then they liked what we did so much they rolled it out through the whole hotel. It was an 18-month project and that was a baptism of fire. We learnt on the job and then we couldn’t look back because we realised we both loved it.

LC: When did you decide on the name?

RW: Our first flat we bought together, the postcode was SE27 2LG. All of our friends called us the 2 Lovely Gays, affectionately of course, and it sort of stuck really! When we came to name the business we were kind of like, dare we? It’s nice to reclaim the word gay, not that we’re trying to get on a soap box, but it’s nice to put a positive slant on it!

LC: If you could redesign one room in the whole of London what would it be?

JC: Something in Buckingham Palace! Just give her a big, white minimalist space.

RW: We’ve just bought a new house and any part of my brain that is left after client projects is completely going on our own house. So a room in this house! I’m so excited about it.

LC: Do you find there’s a lot of pressure when you’re doing your own thing?

RW: Bizarrely, the opposite. When we work with a client, we like to get in to their brain, so we can work out who they are and what they want. So this is freeing and we can go crazy and do our own thing. It’s nice to have that opportunity when you’re used to working for other people.

LC: What’s the most challenging project you’ve ever worked on?

RW: There’s always a challenging client!

JC: There’s often a challenging moment in every project. We call it the wobble. On television we’re used to seeing these tada moments, where the homeowner goes away and they come back and it’s all finished. That’s just not real life and it’s difficult sometimes to see the big picture. Halfway through a project we have a wobble. They sort of panic, and you can see the fear in their eyes!

LC: Do you have any must haves for Autumn/Winter, perhaps for your new house?

RW: Oh my god! So many!

JC: So many we can’t afford. We’ve got so many ideas for our new house that we’re going to have to do on our meagre budget. We’re obsessed with mare silk at the moment. We found this gorgeous product that you can have all over your walls, and we’re kind of dreaming of navy blue mare silk all over our living room.

LC: Are there any retro styles that you think will be making a comeback?

JC: Ooh controversial!

RW: I feel we’ve moved on from retro. If anything I think we’ve been quite obsessed with art deco. We had a weekend trip to Milan and we saw the house from the film I Am Love with Tilda Swinton. It was just so mind blowing and I think that crept in to our interiors recently. Not themed art deco but a really subtle, beautiful version of it.

But also the 80s are having a massive revival. Black Ash furniture, graffiti and purples and reds are having a comeback, which started a few years ago with the Memphis design movement. It’s sort of moved in to the wider pop culture, even music is having an 80s revival.

LC: So how will the clinic work?

RW: We’ve said to keep it as specific as you can because we can’t do over your whole house! Whether it’s a piece of furniture you love and you don’t know what to do with it, or a room, bring a picture and give us an idea of what budget you’re working with and we’ll work through it with you and hopefully you’ll leave with a good concept, and some materials and colour ideas to work with.

LC: Will you be seeing other London Design Week things?

RW: As much as we can! We’ve got four-hour slots each day at the Design Junction, so we’ll be whizzing around all over the place.

JC: I think we’ll see more of the inside of taxis!

LC: What are you looking forward to most?

JC and RW: Design Junction!

You can see Russell and Jordan at the Nest Design Clinic at Design Junction from 24th - 27th September. They’ll also be hosting a master class on Thursday 24th September, and presenting a pop-up shop space. For more information, and to book an appointment, please see the website.


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