Banner Street: meet the owner
We speak to the owner of Banner Street, a four-bedroom maisonette that’s been considerately updated in an artful monochrome palette to create a sanctuary-like space in the centre of London. Anna Murray from PATTERNITY talks to us about her design inspiration, why she loves living here, and her deep appreciation for all things pattern.
My name is Anna and I am the co-founder of a creative organisation and lifestyle brand called PATTERNITY, which we started back in 2009. Everything we do explores the power and wisdom of pattern and design in modern life; how pattern connects the worlds of science and nature with creativity, wellbeing and philosophy. We run a multidisciplinary studio where we work on creative collaborations, and we also design educational experiences and products that connect the dots between these worlds. Our core aim is to raise the awareness of pattern as a force for positive change; inspiring more sustainable, interconnected and harmonious patterns of both seeing and being in the world today. I also love spirals, mini pigs, long trips to tropical places and recently discovered my ancient ancestor was a druid(!).
I remember a very significant moment when I was sitting on my sofa at the flat. This was before I met Grace, my creative partner, and started PATTERNITY. I wasn’t very happy in the job I was doing at the time (I worked at a luxury and corporate branding agency); I felt lost and very creatively unfulfilled, and I lacked meaning and a sense of greater purpose.
I remember coming across a video (the Eameses’ Powers of 10) that took the viewer on a cosmic journey out from a couple sitting on a picnic blanket – right out to the darkest corners of space, where it was just vibrating patterns and atoms. Then the camera zoomed back in again, and right into the hand of the person, right into their body again, to the tiniest atom, to a vibrating pattern similar to the one before. I remember having this wake-up moment, how everything is connected, from the macro to the micro – we are part of something much bigger. I know that pattern is a way to share this perspective and a way of seeing – and feeling – on the Earth today. Something I feel we need more than ever in our increasingly disconnected and broken times.
Since then, it’s been a journey into how to translate this into simple, practical, joyful, purposeful and beautiful ways to share this philosophy with others, so they can incorporate positive and purposeful patterns into their own everyday lives. Because when we start to know and understand that we are connected to everything in the cosmos (and crucially today on planet Earth) we learn to care about it more. We become more conscious of our own patterns and how these impact those close and far from us. Fundamentally, we have to feel this connection before we can live it. And PATTERNITY seeks to share this understanding so people can make this first but critical, important step.
I remember the day I first moved in. The flat was completely empty and it was a lot less open spatially then, but it still had this very peaceful feeling about it – an oasis of calm so near to the centre of Shoreditch. The sun was shining in and I remember sitting on the floor (no sofa, no nothing!) and just watching the tree outside in the courtyard blowing in the wind. There’s nothing quite like that feeling!
I love the feeling of the flat now, it has a really lovely grounded feeling but also, having removed a few sections of the internal walls, I’ve created these living zones you can move around in. It really does feel like energy flows around the space really beautifully. I love working at the breakfast bar overlooking the living room and relaxing in the cosy sofa area (where I often do yoga or watch a film – not at once!). It often feels like a sanctuary, right in the heart of the city (friends have joked, calling it the ‘inner city ashram’!).
Our design language at PATTERNITY is very much about exploring opposing forces of light and dark. It draws on very ancient wisdom of exploring interrelated energies in life. In nature there is always a flow between these fundamental core principles of life – some might call it yin and yang. Cold and warm, the energy of masculine and feminine energies. I love to play around with these and seek to find a balance of both – in our design work and here in my home. There is often so much depth behind the simplest design idea!
I am always looking for inspiration, whether it’s looking up close at the bark of a tree or gazing at the stars at night. But, for me, it’s the deeper sense of patterns that truly keeps me so inspired, the deeper rhythms and patterns within nature – these are the cycles of life that connect us all. I am fascinated by the unseen aspect of pattern, our habits, our behaviours, our thought patterns and how these play out both individually and collectively. I am always motivated by the question: How can we start to live our lives more harmoniously with the natural world, each other and, indeed, ourselves? And, how might our living spaces and ways of being reflect that, and inspire greater peace and health in our culture at large?
I always enjoy being in the flat on the weekends, there is such an abundance of natural light that pours in. Usually my morning is spent reading or having a cup of tea in bed upstairs followed by breakfast at the breakfast bar down below. I love going for a walk around the area, the barbican is about 4 minutes’ walk, so I might catch the latest show there or wander around the conservatory (we’ve hosted several events from there). From there it’s only about a 10-minute walk to the Thames or the Tate Modern.
The area is really lovely and quiet on the weekends, so it might be popping into one of the local galleries or the amazing sushi place ‘Pham Sushi’ on the corner. The London Symphony Orchestra also does incredible concerts, and the Two Brewers is a lovely local pub with such a good vibe too. On Sundays, a morning walk and Ozone Coffee in Shoreditch en route to Columbia Road Flower Market is a lovely way to start the day. I also love going to the Quaker meetings in the little chapel in the community gardens, followed by a potter about the community allotment. Or I’ll sit in the gardens and speak with some of the neighbours about growing carrots(!).
As well as the design of the flat, the cultural amenities and the central location – what I’m probably most sad about leaving is the incredible sense of community in the area. During lockdown all the neighbours really supported each other (there is a community WhatsApp group where people share updates, ideas and spare veg grown from the community allotment!). I think more and more in our culture strong communities are essential for wellbeing; it’s that feeling of connection with people from all walks of life really looking out for each other that I will really miss.
Yes definitely, I really feel I’ve been able to explore my design language in a living space, which has been so much fun and I’ve learnt so much doing it. I’d love to carry that forward in my next home. I’ll definitely be taking the cork floors (sustainable, soundproof, insulating, and as easy and hardwearing as tongue and groove laminate – also great for doing yoga, or for children playing!). I’ll also be creating more shadow gap skirtings and raw plaster walls (I had to persuade my builder to do those!). Depending on the layout of my next home, I’d also like to explore the zoned living areas and bold monochrome walls and angles, not forgetting my vertical radiators!
I would love to imagine people, or a person, who really love the feeling of the flat and appreciate the area. The flat would suit someone who enjoys the balance of being in a cultural design epicentre but also that sense of community, nature and connection that the area brings. I would love to see people who are interested in the allotment and gardens too, people who will enjoy getting involved with the diversity of the neighbourhood community.
I feel the flat will suit someone who enjoys the interplay of the hubbub of the area but also the peace of it – especially at the weekends. The building is actually called ‘Quaker Court’, as one of the first Quaker buildings is located here (people come from all over the world to visit it). Quakers are peace-loving people who enjoy quiet connection and contemplation with nature, and the world around and within them. I’ve been very nourished and inspired by my Quaker friends and meditative gatherings whilst living at the flat.
Be as bold or as subtle as feels right for you in your living space. Living space and the use of pattern are unique to the individual. It can be useful, however, to consider the pattern more broadly though than just a bold tile or wallpaper, which you might go off in time like a bad tattoo(!). Perhaps explore more subtle nature-based patterns, such as the textures of the elements (for me it was the wood cork texture, or the earthen bare plaster wall in the living room). Or, consider larger shapes and blocks to add a ‘pattern’ visual interest and depth to a cosy corner or work areas – I used the large blocked dark walls with large circular mirror shapes to reflect light and shadows, and see the other angles and shapes of the space. Also, consider how the light plays around with your colours and textures, I just love how the light casts across the plaster walls at different times of day. And always add plants and living patterns (that you love and look after!) as much as possible – I have over 50 plants in the flat!