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The mother-and-daughter duo behind luxury architecture and interiors studio Thorp

Philippa Thorp founded her eponymous creative studio in 1985 – and today is joined by her daughter Letty. Together, they are bringing a new vision of luxury to projects across the globe.

Discovering that Philippa Thorp, British interior designer and founder of luxury interiors and architecture studio Thorp, has a motto of “in pursuit of perfection” is unsurprising – this ambitious mantra is present in every aspect of her life, from her impeccable personal style to the timeless interiors she brings to life. It’s an approach that has served her well and, today, Thorp boasts an impressive client list – think former presidents, oligarchs, and the kind of high-society players that regularly feature in the pages of Tatler. 

The St John’s is one of two homes set within a 19th-century chapel located in Chelsea, London, which was designed by Victorian architect Edward Blore – known for his work on Buckingham Palace. Both St John’s and the neighbouring St Mark’s feature interior design by Thorp.

Philippa traces her creative ambitions back to her childhood and parents who encouraged her to engage with architecture and design. It was an art teacher at school, however, who really set her on her path. “She was like a gorgeous little mouse and I adored her,” Philippa recalls. “I was a bit of a rebel and she encouraged me. If you can find a connection like that at school it can be the fire for the rest of your life.”

With the support of her teacher, Philippa enrolled in an art foundation course. Here, she found a very different dynamic with her teacher – but one that again pushed her to achieve her full potential. “There were 60 of us in the class and only two of us had gone to public school,” she says. “One of the teachers loathed the two of us on principle and the injustice of that assumption stirred up a fire in my belly. I wanted to work hard to prove that he was wrong.” 

After her studies, Philippa found herself working in the banking industry. The pull of the creative industries was always there, however, and when a friend working for an architect decided to branch out on her own, the newly married Philippa decided without second thought that she would join her. 

“We were following our dreams,” she says. “We were lucky that her boyfriend, a banker, was our first job. He was very accommodating and let us do as we like.” The project was a success and word soon spread in banking and finance circles about the studio’s talents. “Back in the 80s, it was crazy,” says Philippa. “There was a lot of interesting, exciting work going on.”

St Mark’s is set over five floors and the interior is defined by richly textured finishes, custom joinery, feature fireplaces, and statement lighting.

When Philippa’s business partner moved onto other pursuits, she rebranded as Thorp. The studio’s major breakthrough came in the early 2000s, when Thorp undertook the complete redevelopment of a house on Brick Street in Mayfair. Set in the former coaching stables of the Marquis of Londonderry, it was a mammoth undertaking and went on to win several prestigious awards. Perhaps more importantly for Philippa, however, it led to Thorp being approached to create interiors, as well as bespoke furniture, luggage in collaboration with designer Bill Amberg and an activewear range, for the opulent KX gym and private members’ club in London’s Chelsea – a project that received widespread press coverage and established Thorp as a leader in the luxury interiors sphere.

The interior of KX gym and private members’ club is an striking mix of dark timber joinery and elegant neutral finishes.

Since then, Thorp has worked on a variety of projects, from luxury chalets, country homes, and penthouses, to golf clubs, private members clubs, and restaurants. She has also grown the business and her three daughters – Camilla, Belle, and Letty – have all worked in the studio at various points. Letty, in particular, embraced the opportunity to work with her mother after graduating from art college a decade ago, and has recently been appointed Head of Interiors.  

“I work hand in hand with my mother and the client to deliver the dream,” she says of the role. “There’s also a whole team of people to help bring it all together behind the scenes.” This 14-strong team is a cross-disciplinary powerhouse that merges architecture, interior design, landscaping, art curation, and furniture design to realise ambitious holistic visions for Thorp’s clients. “It’s like we are creating a painting together and each stroke needs to be balanced,” explains Philippa. “It’s very much a team game.”

On every project, the team – guided by Philippa and Letty – develop a concept that is led by the client. This client-led approach, combined with the studio’s focus on elegant interiors that will stand the test of time, results in wildly different visual outcomes. 

It’s like we are creating a painting together and each stroke needs to be balanced.

Philippa Thorp

The recent Ennismore Gardens project, for example, is a celebration of traditional values – “the challenge was to make sure it doesn’t become too ‘fuddy duddy’,” explains Letty – while Artesian Road in Westbourne Grove is for a much younger client and is defined by a more playful aesthetic punctuated with neon lights. Other recent projects include a highly ornate residence overlooking Lake Como in Italy, and the Yellowstone Club, a private ski and golf resort in Big Sky, Montana, that celebrates a more contemporary, muted palette. 

Thorp has clients across the globe. This living room in a home in Miami features a textured, neutral backdrop for a colourful collection of art, and spills onto a deck that overlooks the ocean.

“We don’t follow trends,” says Philippa. “Our ethos is to build well once rather than to buy cheap twice. It’s one of the reasons our clients keep coming back to us, because we believe in longevity and quality. There’s a misunderstanding about rich people and how they spend money – but I’ve never come across a cavalier rich person who doesn’t care where they are spending. They think very practically and are responsible about how they spend every penny. That is getting more affirmation now.”

In keeping with this idea of bringing value through design, Thorp takes a hands-on approach to managing many of their clients’ assets, whether it’s building a property portfolio or amassing an impressive collection of art. It’s an approach that ensures that clients’ assets continue to grow in value over generations – much like Thorp itself.

It’s this knowledge and seeing their design vision come to life in new ways for every project that both Philippa and Letty find most rewarding about the work they do. “I want our clients to love the outcome as much as we do,” explains Philippa. “When they are happy and excited, it’s such a joy.”

Read more: Interior Designers I Interiors | Design | Penthouses | Property + Real Estate | London