Sharing his Victorian Hampstead home with wife and collaborator, Daniele Mah, this tech business leader-turned renowned visual artist is happiest in his home studio – a far cry from the boardroom.
Photography by Daniele Mah
What do you usually look for when buying a home?
Character and design. Daniele and I are open to classical and contemporary architecture, we love both equally. Space is also an important factor as we work from home. It allows me greatest working flexibility without having to lose time travelling somewhere. A good location and green space is also essential. We both run, so being near the Heath is lovely.
Did you do anything structurally when you moved in?
It’s a Victorian property, built in 1882, and part of The Mansfield Estate. Originally it would have been a four-bed house. We knocked through two bedrooms for my studio on the first floor. The previous owners had been there for over 30 years, so it was in need of a full overhaul. It ended up being much more of an overhaul than we first thought, though – these old houses with walls and ceilings made of good old-fashioned lath and plaster don’t take too well to being touched! Taking a wall down here and there ended up with every wall and ceiling collapsing – apart from a tiny part in the entrance – which we kept as a cheeky memento. So it pretty much ended up being an empty shell – and a great blank canvas!
Visual art plays a central role, can you talk me through a few of your favourite pieces?
We have a few Impressionist works but mostly our walls are adorned by my paintings and some of my wife’s photographs. I love having my bronze sculptures around, so having the space for them is a luxury. We also rotate works at least once a year, when paintings are sold or new ones created.
How does a period residential property lend itself to displaying art?
It’s great, in fact, in the old days, when there was no central heating, walls were often covered with paintings and tapestries to help conserve the heat. With a Victorian property you get these lovely high ceilings and big sash windows, so every wall in our house has art on it – it brings a house to life! People need more art in their homes, I’m often puzzled by how little art people have on their walls, it seems like it’s the last thing they needed to do and have forgotten. When we have to take paintings away for exhibitions, or because they’ve been sold, the void is really felt.
Tell me about your furniture choices
Luckily my wife and I rarely disagree when it comes to furniture and how we want our homes to look. I would say she’s a bit more daring than I am, so we have a good balance. We both have a love for classical, even Baroque here and there, and a good mix of vintage ’60s and ’70s pieces. The blend and mixture of periods and styles always make an interior more interesting, we can’t imagine just having a universal overall style. My wife is half Chinese, so we have some Asian pieces in the house, too, and they all work harmoniously with the artworks.
Do you have any favourite interiors brands?
Most of our furniture is vintage in one way or another, so we don’t have a particular brand of furniture that is a go-to. We have spent rather a lot of time on our favourite platform, 1stDibs, which is where we get most things from.
Which is your favourite room?
That’s obviously my studio. It’s where I spend most of my awake time. It has windows on both sides, a heavy-duty wood floor, and high walls to hang my art.
Tell me what you love about living in Hampstead
The Heath is probably the highlight. We have two dogs, Charles and Henry, so having that nearby is great, it’s such a sprawling big park and, shockingly, we only discovered the Pergola gardens not that long ago. Hampstead also has a lovely village atmosphere and it hasn’t been overwhelmed by too many high street brands, so it still feels authentic.
Can you tell me about your latest projects?
I’m working on my The Last Faust project, creating large scale oil paintings and bronze sculptures. I also finished dubbing the feature film The Last Faust (released in 2019 starring Steven Berkoff and Martin Hancock) into German. I’ll premiere it in Germany in 2022. Lastly, I am starting to prepare a theatre version of my film. Faust functions for me as a way of retelling my understandings of the world as its leaders.