Tchaik Chassay and Melissa North live in David Hockney‘s old flat – layout unchanged since he left…. to be fair, Tchaik was his architect and designed the space originally, beautifully. It is gorgeous – see around, in this brief video (under 5 minutes) filmed for Apartmento magazine
Watching this film felt a little deja vue for me, because I’ve previously seen the flat in a documentary about David Hockney. And it truly is very little changed. Although one difference in the artist’s documentary was that a young, blonde David Hockney casually strolled along the hall naked, with only a towel. (Those familiar with David’s work will not be surprised to learn of the placement of said fabric – draped on one shoulder.)
The flat is enormous – originally two flats elegantly joined via a brand new hallway connecting space: as you can see, plenty of space to waft towards a camera crew.
“When you’re converting a building, you’re really trying to find ways of making the best of the space that exists and to find ways of moving through from one space to another in a gracious way.”
The apartment features huge rooms with lots of windows letting in light. David Hockney was very happy here initially (and still occasionally visited even after leaving) – but when his relationship broke apart, he couldn’t bear to stay there. Tchaik and Melissa bought it from him and have lived in it happily for 40 years, and are clearly very much at home in it, with their pictures, furniture, books, books and books. As a bibliophile, I especially appreciate the books: Tchaik has a small room workspace lined with volumes, and Melissa has books stacked in piles on every table except the gargantuan dining-table. (One of the tables has piles ‘to be read’).
The kitchen design is wonderful: immensely compact, not a scrap of space is wasted. It is essentially a simple galley kitchen (ie two parallel strips of units). But it contains some great design tips for modern kitchens – check out the inbuilt storage below the cupboards instead of modern splashback tiling – and even the cupboards are like fridge doors, with storage space inside the doors. Kitchen doors nowadays are uniformly flat, so the curvilinear shaped doors in this kitchen look a little strange and bumpy – but when you open them, you can see that that curve has a real function: it gives space to insert jars etc. And because the storage is in the door itself, it does not impinge on the space within the cupboard. It is an ingenious use of space for a city dwelling.
“Above the kitchen cabinets, a garden – an indoor garden” – Tchaik
Another unusual and innovative design to the kitchen is that the cabinets are on a freestanding partial wall – on top of the cabinets are greenery plants which drape over into the dining space, joining with other huge leafy green plants there. Central to the dining space is the gigantic dining table seating 10 comfortably. The whole effect is of eating in a garden space. Melissa: “If this table could speak…….”
Melissa has brought many intriguing ornaments into the space, which add to David Hockney’s literal painting palette and a portrait by Hockney of Tchaik as a young man. I was electrified to hear the architect refer to the portrait of his “feral cardigan” — only to
discover of course that he meant “fair isle cardigan”. Fair Isle is knitting with many different pinpricks of colour – laborious and intricate – this particular cardigan had been lovingly knitted by Tchaik’s mother – but the complications of the pattern were too much for Hockney, who sensibly just painted a patch of them in the portrait.
Funnily enough, more recently, knitwear designs have developed to show plain knit body jumpers with the patterned Fair Isle on the sleeves only. Proving, possibly, that other designers and makers found that less pattern is more – and quicker to make.
Homemade Interior Design
The colourways of the flat remain firmly 1970s – which is coming right back into fashion – the ochre yellow and the greyed blues are everywhere in today’s home furnishings.
Melissa North has brought her sense of colour to the apartment, painting the large living room in a bold Kingfisher blue for her husband’s birthday. (This colour works brilliantly, literally, here as it’s a spacious room with lots of light – but I suspect it would dominate a small room). Tchaik has also contributed a sign of affection for her in an endearing little throwaway clip in the video – while he’s expositing on the qualities of architectural space. Aside from the rather dominant jazz music throughout – there is much to love in this video. I’m glad that I saw it.