Meet the young female interior architects refusing to design like everyone else

Meet the young female interior architects refusing to design like everyone else

‘We set up our own firm because we didn’t like what everyone else was doing.’ So say the women behind No12, a two-year-old interior architecture practice making waves in London.

Run by enviously high-flying duo Katie Earl and Emma Rayner, No12 is behind the city’s newest all-female members club, The AllBright in Bloomsbury opening today – International Women’s Day 2018 (no coincidence).

Housed in the space that, until last year, was the zesty Lazarides gallery (which has relocated to Cork Street), The AllBright has been transformed into a tranquil home-away-from home for London’s powerful, working women.

Emma Rayner and Katie Earl of No12

Emma Rayner and Katie Earl of No12. Photography: Tina Hillier

The AllBright takes its inspiration from the Bloomsbury group, and a Virginia Woolf quote, rendered in white, sings out from the otherwise unassuming black facade: ‘A woman must have money and a room of her own.’ Nothing seems truer when you step inside, and a warren of floors, private meeting rooms and cosy seating areas present themselves.

The Bloomsbury group’s influence rings through the floors, which begin with a bright white colour palate on ground level, growing progressively darker as you rise the staircase. The ground floor (a full working café to seat up to 40 covers) is named ‘Morell’, the first floor ‘Bell’, the second ‘Woolf’ (which also houses a private meeting room cleverly monikered ‘The Lighthouse’), and the top floor – replete with nightsky blue walls and Prosecco bar – ‘West’.

In the light, ground floor cafe area in The AllBright

In the light, ground floor cafe area. Photography: Tina Hillier

Many original features, like stipped wooden flooring, have been retained in the space, with Earl and Rayner choosing to ‘naturally curate’, rather than ‘force a particular style or atmosphere upon it.’ The furniture and room dressing, a job taken on by Rayner, holds most of the design detail. Rayner hunts out interesting objects, artwork and furniture from around the globe, before stripping it back and re-working it. The fun, striped sofas on ‘Bell’ – which the duo have dubbed ‘Beetlejuice chairs’ – were shells, which Rayner re-upholstered.

While Rayner focuses on detail, Earl takes on structural adaptations, a job made all the more tricky here thanks to the tight budget, Grade II-listed building and remarkably short turn-around time – just six months. The most engaging space has been carved out by Earl underground, in the small but perfectly formed ‘Lopokova’ wellness centre, where showers, salon and studio will host everything from yoga classes to pyschotherapy sessions.

The duo hope the space will appeal to ‘a whole range of women’. Indeed, founders entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow and former Hearst Magazines UK CEO, Anna Jones, have already seen sign-ups from everyone from a 23-year-old creative to an oil-rig engineer. Earl and Rayner, (who are used to working on private residential projects) are looking forward to making full-use of the space. ‘It’s a perk of the job,’ they laugh. Where do we sign up?