On Friday, Robbie Spina of the design studio Spina – the company that made tassels and tie-backs a must-have luxury item – harked back to his first room in London. Today, his business partner Joe Zito recalls to his childhood attic bedroom in his family home in Yorkshire…
“My family home was a Victorian villa in Yorkshire and my bedroom was a spacious attic room with lots of nooks and crannies. This was a disused part of a large house so as a 16 year old teenager I converted it into ‘my private little suite’. I tried to create a different feeling in each nook, divided by dramatic curtains that I would find and recycle from any relative (or indeed any discarded item I could lay my hands on). I made most things myself, apart from the bed. I even made my first tiebacks with leftover wool (my mum was an ardent knitter!) and I made scarlet plaits which I used to hold back some finely patterned red curtains. To suspend the curtains I twisted rusty metal tubes to form a U-shape and then used a matching rusty-looking pole to suspend it all from. The contrast was great and I was so proud despite adverse comments from my siblings! I had shiny linoleum with fake faded Persian rugs, I carefully taught myself to hang wallpaper and I had different patterned wallpapers on each wall, getting the gist about complimentary ways to match pattern and colour combinations.
To add an unusual spot of colour I remember a turquoise bedcover, which was like a an exotic island amidst the more austere colours of the room. As a young artist, my walls were littered with sketches, doodles and empty frames that might come in handy later on with a bit of gilding or lacquering thrown in!
“Lighting was my passion. Not only did I make the ceiling lights out of recycled glass balls but I started a small collection of table lamps as light sculptures. I would mix wrought ironmongery pieces (fire poker holders!), with anything glass and I would place transparent glass bowls with inverted bowls, layering different sizes and glass styles together. I would try to be my own electrician and persisted despite the odd electric shock! In the end I had a very oddball collection of my own pieces.
“I loved my room so much and that was important since I spent so much time in it studying for exams. It was spacious and organised with a sensible corner for my desk and my books – another passion. I collected books at any given time from car boot sales, from neighbours that dumped them by the bins and so on. I repaired them when necessary. I also spent all my pocket money on buying the great classics, one at a time, which I adored.
I have retained this passion for things! I might minimise their importance in a space, but I think there is a place for everything. The fun is in placing objects together and making them harmonious, to personalise, to be creative and always bring in a touch of the exotic or unusual, that lifts you from the mundane.
“Loving this styling and creating for interiors at an early age, it brought me in touch with like-minded people, whether they were friends or relatives and then later, clients. I found that in my self-expression it gave me a confidence, one I would share with people like Robbie Spina who I then began working with at Spina design. This underlying freedom and fresh approach where anything is possible always means I have to add a touch of humour to anything I am working on. My style remains fundamentally the same, but I feel it naturally flows and evolves with the encounters and opportunities that life brings. Whether that comes from a trusting client with a special commission, which encourages you to go to the next level and beyond, or a collaboration with some gifted individual who encourages you to create the world’s largest tassel!”