Hidden away off a suburban street in Forest Hill Jemma Ooi and Nathan Philpott head up Studio Custhom, a research-based design practice pioneering handmade processes. Established in 2010 they work with clients to conceptualise commercial and residential spaces as well as branding projects. Keen collaborators, they also have a graphic-design led collection of wallpapers, ceramics, textiles and homewares, which is sold internationally. With such a bold design aesthetic we were invited into Jemma and Nathan’s home to see the products for ourselves.
Situated down a rocky lane surrounded by playing fields in what was a large farm house Jemma and Nathan’s home is a characterful space with classic original details simplified by striking furniture “Balancing tactile materials is really important in our home, from the softer furnishings to glazed and unglazed ceramics mixed with the texture of leaves and foliage. We have quite a minimal aesthetic but comfort at the heart of our choices.”
Spanning one side of the ground floor the first and most imposing room entered is the lounge. With its wide stripped floors and large sash windows overlooking the lawn, there’s an instant feeling of calm. “The light really floods in mid-day, so that is our favourite time of day to be in here. Especially when the shutters are open, it really warms up the room and there’s lots of space for our daughter to play or look for "squiggles" (squirrels).”
Having settled into the house over a number of years the environment in general is incredibly homely and stylish but also considerate “The house was a dairy farm, there's even a huge stone sink and cooker in the cellar, so everything we do we feel has to emulate the farm house and the Georgian period it was built. We decided to add a patterned lime plaster detail to the ceiling in the main room inspired by the mansion at nearby Beckenham Place park.” Although already impressive Nathan and Jemma are also have plans to further enhance the set-up. “We plan on reconfiguring the old servants quarter of the flat, which currently houses our kitchen, bathroom and playroom.” It’s easy to see how this will make the most of the spaces, giving everywhere a better flow.
The main, well proportioned rooms are the ideal setting to showcase the CUSTHOM pieces, which sit perfectly amongst other designer pieces including Lignet Roset and Ercol. The studio itself supplies to clients in the UK, across Europe and North America, which they say is very humbling to them both “It's a huge incentive to use the best quality raw materials, skilled people and manufacturing process when we make, just as what we look for when buy any of the objects for our own house.”
As well as manufacturing and selling furniture and objects CUSTHOM also works with other local designers, including a collection of hand printed wallpapers created with 2LG Studio. “We are in a very privileged position being able to collaborate face to face with locals so why not utilise these relationships between local suppliers and manufactures. It's what we rely on as a small business.” Not only is this a sustainable way to produce by eliminating the footprint created from freight but it also encourages the surrounding economy. See the range for yourself at CUSTHOM.
Words and photography by Joseph Walker