NO.3 CHRISTINE VAN DER HURD : UP OUR STREET - A journey through the lives, spaces and collections of 8 Holland Street's artists and designers

Them

"Nothing is ordinary and no day is standard, mundane or grey in 17 Portobello Road. Whilst the Vanderbirds work to realise the designs, Stuart and his spider sit in the greenhouse, design meetings take hold, Christine gets the watercolours out..."

ON AN AUTUMNAL MORNING ON PORTOBELLO ROAD, WE SPOKE TO DEAR FRIEND CHRISTINE VAN DER HURD ABOUT DAY-TO-DAY LIFE AT VANDERHURD

 

Vanderhurd HQ cuts a grey figure on Portobello Road. In the forecourt a VW Golf is parked by an old wooden door that hosts a small sign with the company name. There is no indication that behind the door there is a kaleidoscope of colour and pattern; a room full of textile designers ('Vanderbirds') passing fabric and carpet samples around with geometric prints on computer screens and walls adorned with treasures picked-up from travels around the world.

 

On the morning we arrive, we pass through the colourful chaos in the office via the towering wooden doors acquired in Southern Spain and into the showroom. There amongst the samples sits Christine’s partner Stuart quietly drinking black coffee with a bejewelled spider trying to escape from his jacket pocket “the grandchildren love it”, he says. Over coffee Stuart tells us about London in the 70’s, when for a period he didn’t wear shoes. In doing so, he is a pillar of calm quietly grounding the office - an office that is also a home for Christine and Stuart, and has every comforting sense of it …if not a little more with the abundance of textiles.

 

Christine Van Der Hurd has been designing textiles for over 45 years and has worked with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Veere Grenney, Adam Bray, Marc Jacobs and Liberty. Although for a large portion of her career Christine lived in New York, many of her designs have come from 17 Portobello Road. Number 17 has been a part of her life since she was 18 years old when her antique dealer parents bought it to be close to their stores further down the famous London road. The Spanish doors were a find of theirs, as were the carved wooden lions and their shields that guard the stairs up to their private quarters.

 

Downstairs, through the kitchen full of produce from the farmers market, there is a courtyard garden. A charming iron staircase leads up to a greenhouse, and with it a vine catches a lift and has escaped into the house. The greenhouse is where Stuart works on model trains or does his own artworks using felt tips that often make their way into Vanderhurd designs. There is no rule book on where inspiration is found, from Stuarts sketches, to their travels East where their designs are made, and for their new collection coming in 2021 inspiration came from a Gio Ponti design. Even a piece of paper covered in yellow tape and scribbles by Christine’s grandson sits on her desk awaiting her hand. A favourite part of Christine’s office, where her portrait by Annie Leibovitz casually leans, is a secret door to a guest bedroom. The door is painted wood with irregular marks dancing all over – we ask, and Christine tells us its Stuart’s old woodwork table.

 

Nothing is ordinary and no day is standard, mundane or grey in 17 Portobello Road. Whilst the Vanderbirds work to realise the designs, Stuart and his spider sit in the greenhouse, design meetings take hold, Christine gets the watercolours out, and deliveries arrive from India with samples and finished pieces. When we are there the hand embroidered Gio Ponti inspired samples arrive; we all coo with delight.

 

This is in the day, but we know at night, around the twelfth hour Christine may well still be with a brush in hand whilst Stuart sneaks down for his nightly cake and rum fix. This is no ordinary place, this is the sort of magic that would not be out of place on Diagon Alley, and could not be anywhere else in this world other than Portobello Road. Vanderhurd and all its magical eccentrics are UP OUR STREET.  

 

ALL IMAGES BY OLLIE TOMLINSON

 

 

In the studio
The work
Thoughts

CHRISTINE (IN GEST) COMPLETES THE SENTENCES ABOUT HER DAY...

 

I STARTED MY DAY BY… 

 

dreaming about where my next holiday will be. I would love to go back to Tangier, where I spent a month last summer, in a beautiful white house set in an overflowing garden owned by the artists Elena Prentice and Gustav de Staël (featured in World Of Interiors a few months ago). 


AT LUNCH … 

 

I joined my favourite friends at the River Cafe. I love the simplicitty of the design and use of primary colour, and of course the exquisite food. Their Burrata for me every time. 

What GETS ME THROUGH …

 

a tequila on the rocks whilst facetiming my grandchilden in the US 

A DISTRACTION …

 

browsing through photography auctions looking for new finds my colleciton. Favorites are Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Tim Walker and Elliott Erwitt. 

I FAILED at …

 

actually doing any of these things on my list as I'm always catching up with yesterday! 

A THOUGHT I had …

 

How best to avoid my least favourite …...

A DREAM PROJECT …

 

New York Loft. I lived in an 11th floor Downtown loft for 20 years, some of my best memories. I loved hosting there and regualrly placed lots of different shaped tables together into a long 50 foot long extravaganza for curry feasts. 

TOMORROW …

 

Same again … another exciting day in the Vanderworld.