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Studio Vero

Discover the art of design with Studio Vero

Imagine a grand, light-filled drawing room with six-metre-high ceilings and a wall of windows overlooking London’s Chelsea, the walls adorned with an elegant hand-painted chevron pattern; or a master bedroom in a home in Kensington with a cherry blossom mural in soft blush pink artfully hand-painted on woven fabric wallpaper, a nod to the blossoms on the streets below. In both spaces, the finely crafted details offer a backdrop to characterful antiques and carefully curated artwork. Welcome to the world of Studio Vero, a London-based interior design studio founded by interior architects Venetia Rudebeck and Romanos Brihi.

The duo have been best friends since school, and both inherited a love for antiques and design from their parents. “My parents are both collectors and my mum has always bought and sold antiques on a grand scale,” reveals Rudebeck. “I was obsessed with interiors and did a diploma in design at KLC School of Design in London. I genuinely can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Brihi’s mother was also an avid antiques collector. “She used to drag me down Portobello Road from the age of six every weekend,” he says. “Then, I moved to Paris when I was 21 and it sparked a massive passion for everything interiors – from antiques and art to furniture. I got back to London and fell in love with the course Venetia was doing. The rest is history.”

The two of us are involved from the early stages of design to the styling at the end, and it adds a dynamic dimension to the whole process – Venetia Rudebeck

They initially set up independently, but soon realised that they were speaking about projects on the phone every day and were essentially working together already. The natural step was to join creative forces and Studio Vero was launched in 2014. “We love working together,” says Rudebeck. “The two of us are involved from the early stages of design to the styling at the end, and it adds a dynamic dimension to the whole process.”

Over the past six years, the studio has developed a signature style that celebrates colour, pattern, materiality, antiques, and art. Together, they create richly layered interiors that marry traditional elegance with contemporary flair in equal part.

A recently completed project in Chelsea (above) is a shining example of this style. It was the client’s first home in London and he didn’t want to bring anything with him, so Studio Vero started from scratch – including an impressive art collection for the 7,000sqft space. “We focused on 70% British artists, and the client loved it,” says Brihi. “It’s the first time we’ve put together an entire collection, and it was such great fun.”

It’s the same home that features the aforementioned hand-painted chevron walls in the drawing room. Wallpaper was out of the question as it would have been difficult to hang straight with six-metre-high ceilings. Instead, an artisan painter created a subtle chevron pattern over the course of four months. “I’ve known him for 20 years,” says Brihi. “We love working with such talented people and collaborating with them to push boundaries. That’s something we try to instil in our team – to never be scared of failure and to push ourselves to come up with things that are new, different and refreshing.”

“It’s one of the fabulous things about our job,” agrees Rudebeck. “We get to meet these people and our clients have access to suppliers that they wouldn’t otherwise have because a lot of these artisans deal with trade only.”

As in the drawing room, the five bedrooms in the Chelsea home have each been given different personalities through the use of colour and pattern – think powder blue and soft raspberries with striking wallpapers. “A lot of people are slightly scared of using patterns on a large scale,” says Rudebeck. “But we love using big patterns and often clash them. It’s such a great way to inject personality and light into a room.”

A colourful Chelsea bedroom designed by London-based interior design firm Studio Vero
Rudebeck and Brihi often use colours and patterns to inject personality into spaces

Another way that the creative duo bring a strongly defined character to an interior is through the use of antiques – say an original Gio Ponti bookcase in a study, or a sleek mid-century armchair overlooked by a sculptural lamp. “We believe that antiques add warmth to any interior,” says Rudebeck. “We try to put antiques in all our projects as it brings something unique – and they can always be resold or exchanged so the home becomes an evolving collection.”

“Workmanship has changed so much over the past few decades,” agrees Brihi. “Antique furniture was built to last. Part of the pleasure I get in buying antique furniture is looking at it, touching it and smelling it – there’s nothing quite like it for me.”

A Gio Ponti bookcase in a study designed by London-based interior design firm Studio Vero
The designers enjoy sourcing rare antiques such as this Gio Ponti bookcase, purchased from Themes & Variations

While the pair search wide and far for their antiques, they get much of their inspiration from the galleries, antique shops and markets of London’s Notting Hill, where their studio is based. One particularly special Gio Ponti bookcase (right), for example, was discovered in a local dealership during a lunchtime walk. They also love online dealers, which they say make antiques more accessible.

This fascination with antiques ties neatly into a growing movement towards more sustainable consumption, with less of a focus on disposable trends and more interest in crafting timeless interiors. “Last year allowed people to reflect on how they have been consuming in a way that isn’t necessarily sustainable,” says Brihi. “It started in the fashion world but has moved into interiors as well. People are aware that they shouldn’t just keep buying for the sake of it.”

As well as time to reflect on buying habits, Rudebeck and Brihi have also noticed that the challenges posed by lockdowns have encouraged many of their clients to make a move to the countryside, either full-time or as a second residence. As a result, they are currently working on several ambitious projects outside of the city. And, as travel restrictions ease, they hope to resume international work in destinations such as The Hamptons.

Whatever the future holds for Studio Vero, one thing remains certain – Rudebeck and Brihi will continue to craft elegant interiors that carefully balance timeless design with a true expression of the personality and lifestyle of their clients. “We want to take our clients on a special journey and make it a wonderfully fun experience for them,” says Brihi. “It’s what we enjoy doing – and interior design has got to be a passion. You have to live and breathe it.”

Effect Magazine is brought to you by Effetto