Sera Hersham-Loftus is the embodiment of her work as an interior decorator. Both are glamorously Bohemian and romantically feminine, as can be seen in her designs for the likes of Courtney Love and Yoko Ono, as well as in her opulent Little Venice Rooms atelier. Set within a stucco building in west London, her space is like Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell’s film set for Performance with black ceilings, huge mirrors, velvet chairs, open fires and an indoor garden of deco palms and ferns. Huge, tropical, curvy rope lamp sculptures (price on request) hang from the highest of ceilings, custom-made by Canadian maker Annie Legault, who is one of the designers Sera shows as part of a “family of artists”.
At the heart of this offering is Hersham-Loftus’s own creations – from sumptuous bespoke cushions (£300 to £600) to decadent House Gowns (£1,500 a pair), which can be used as window dressings, wall hangings or room dividers. “They are like beautiful dresses for the house,” says the former set designer, who has worked for the Israel Ballet and Sadler’s Wells. “They are made from vintage lace, velvet dresses, silk nightgowns, anything that I can find, and dyed to whatever colour the client desires – black, tea-stained, pink… Everything I do is handmade and recycled.”
For cushions, clients discuss colours and materials as well as shapes, with bolsters inspired by 1930s opera cloaks in ruched velvet and satin trim, and oversized shells oozing pure romantic Hollywood. Each piece is designed and sewn in the nearby Sera of London houseboat workroom by Hersham-Loftus and her skilled co-workers, including Maureen Baker, former top seamstress for Hardy Amies. Commissions take four-six weeks and are sent all over the world. Author Howard Jacobson and his documentary maker wife Jenny de Yong have just received a set of House Gowns for “their most beautiful bedroom”.
Another speciality is custom-made trompe l’oeil wallpapers (price on request) of lace and festoons – “some handpainted with gold leaf. They’re designed for small ‘jewellery box’ rooms, as I hate large expanses of wallpaper”.