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Eat Work Art SPOTLIGHT: House of Dré

House of Dré is an art and design studio based at Hackney Downs Studios.

Putting the ‘Dré’ in House of Dré is Creative Director and qualified architect, Andreas Christodoulou. We caught up with Andreas to hear more about House of Dré's brand ethos and exciting projects in the pipeline.

“Dré is not a person, it’s a persona. It’s how you feel when you know you are sitting in a beautiful space, enjoying delicious food and drink with great company. It’s the side of you that you project on social media. It’s how you feel when you slide on a fresh pair of trainers or a new dress. It is real, but doesn’t make up the whole of your reality.”

Andreas of House of Dre

First of all, can you tell us a bit of the backstory behind House of Dré?

House of Dré was established in 2020 in the thick of the summer lockdown. I had been made redundant from my previous design studio as a result of the catastrophic effect of the pandemic on the hospitality industry. I had no plans to start the studio but the job that I wanted didn’t exist, so I decided to make it.

Up until that point I had felt that much of what we do was quite frivolous but being starved of our hotels, restaurants, bars and shops allowed me to see the importance of these spaces to our everyday lives. These spaces are often the design industry's test bed for new and exciting ideas. I have since felt charged up by the forced sabbatical.

What is your creative process from ideation to delivery of a project?

I describe our process as being very similar to method acting. In the early concept stages of a project we begin to immerse ourselves into the lifestyle of the brand/clients and take on their characteristics. It’s a great way to empathise with the end user and to expand oneself on a personal level.

House of Dre studio

What have been some of your favourite projects to date?

My personal favourite is the world's first fully net carbon zero hometel in Chiswick (Room2). It’s a great example of an ambitious project that attempts to create a sustainable precedent for how contemporary hotels could be, without constantly throwing it in the face of the end user.

Aesthetically the project attempts to take the principles behind the arts & crafts movement and realise them in the context of the 21st century.

We worked with a number of talented craftspeople like paper makers and carpenters, all of whom take traditional techniques and adapt them to create objects that suit modern tastes. These are people who do what they love, and as a result bring a much needed air of authenticity to any commercial project. The idea of a home from home sits at the heart of the concept and I think we got close to something that is quite unique in the hospitality industry.

What are some of the challenges and rewards of trying to marry aesthetics and design with functionality?

It’s always a negotiation, but I personally believe that there is something very ugly about an object or space that looks beautiful but isn’t fit for purpose. It’s very easy to get sucked into the insta reality of framing views and imagining the front page shot on Elle Decor or Wallpaper magazine.

Ultimately there is always a contingency of beauty that is built into every project that is out of the designers control, quite often we find that these are the most beautiful parts of a project. They can be the way the light shines into a space or how the end users use and dress the space/object in unexpected ways.

Understanding that some things are and should be out of your control is an important part of being a designer, and allowing for opportunities for the end user to finish the design themselves, gives the most practical and beautiful results.

House of Dre studio

You talk a lot about integrity and honesty; how do you think this is adopted by House of Dré?

For us honesty & integrity are as much lessons in life and business as they are rules of design.

If a designer is honest and acts with integrity they have nothing to worry about, clearing the mind and allowing it to take on the challenge of empathising with the eventual end user.

An anxious mind creates an anxious design. A qualified architect is legally bound by the Architects Code, the first rule of which is to be honest and act with integrity. We have taken a minimalist hatchet to the rest of the rules which are all just variations on this efficiently packaged morsel, honesty and integrity, which transcends architecture and interior design.

How have you found working from Hackney Downs Studios?

After the isolation of the pandemic, the studio has been immensely beneficial both socially and for our work.

We have started to collaborate with various artists within the studio and hope to continue this on every project we do moving forward. Being in and around other creatives is really inspirational. Equally sometimes you just want someone to discuss Love Island with. It's great to be back!

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