Electronic music duo, Alpines, aka Bob Matthews and Catherine Pockson welcome us into their South London home and music studio on a sunny autumnal day with warmth and endless cups of tea. From the envy-inducing floor to ceiling bookshelves spilling with hardbacks, magazines and novels, to a walk-in wardrobe that would earn the respect of Carrie Bradshaw, we fell head over heels for this little haven that Alpines call home. They share with us their favourite spots for furniture hunting, what their dream home would look like, and their fantasy dinner party guests.
UO: What’s your favourite piece in the house and what is its story?
One of my favourite pieces is a black and white reversible quilt made up of Swiss crosses which was hand sewn by Bob’s mum, a very talented craftswoman. She made me the quilt as a moving-in gift and it is one of my most treasured possessions. There is something about a handmade item by someone that you know which is so special, sentimental and timeless.
UO: What items can you not stop collecting?
I have been collecting vinyl and i-D magazines since I was a teenager.
UO: Do you have any favourite markets in or out of London for furniture hunting?
Kempton Antiques Market has to be one of the greatest markets for finding beautiful bits for the home.
UO: What should no home be without?
A radio, a decent set of speakers and a bookshelf stacked full of books.
UO: What’s a typical day for you?
Every day is different. Today is a day of admin and accounts, which I have to say is my least favourite kind of day, but when you are running your own business it is very important to stay on top of things. However, the majority of this year has been spent in the studio being very creatively driven and working on our second album which has been amazing. At times it has been very intensive – writing an album is not an easy task.
A day in the studio will usually start first thing in the morning. It will always begin with coffee and discussions about what we are feeling about the previous day’s work. More often than not it will be pretty clear what needs to be worked on. Making a new song has to be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. That moment when you finish it and you know in your gut that you are happy with the outcome and have made something special. But not every song is good enough and you have to keep going and push yourself to do better.
UO: Describe your style in three words
Contemporary, nostalgic and painterly
UO: Where do you seek inspiration for your home?
All over! In magazines, in public spaces and in other people’s homes too. I love how interior design becomes an extension of who you are as a person. Florence Welch highlights this point beautifully in her new short film with Nowness, which is set in her home.
Yesterday I was at the Tate Britain and was inspired by the new refurbishment in the entrance, which is set around this stunning marble spiral staircase with art deco style tiles and chrome silver details. Pinterest is also a labyrinth of incredible ideas and I could spend hours and hours looking into what colour walls would work best or whether or not a certain kind of rug would suit a certain room. I would love to have a very minimal space and that is the dream one day, but for now organised clutter and chaos will have to do!
UO: How did you approach the aesthetic / design for your studio space?
Our studio space is made up of two halves and in a way each half represents our different roles in the band. It enables both of us to work in harmony with each other whilst being very comfortable in our zones. In one half of the room is Bob’s world which is dominated by synths, cables, technology and recording devices. Ordered chaos. In the other half of the room, which is where I spend most of my time, you can find my piano and microphones. There is also a large sofa decorated with cushions and lots of books for inspiration and journals and pens to write with. I am a real believer in putting ink to paper when you write music, so I like to make sure there are always paper and pens at the ready. My cheese plant and cactuses are also important features.
UO: We love your jewellery collection – is it largely vintage?
Ah thank you so much! Yes lots of the pieces are costume jewellery and vintage. I have been collecting for years and every item has a sentimental connection. That is what I love about jewellery, I adore how much power it can have over you in terms of representing or defining a moment in time. For example, my brother gave me a brooch made by Andrew Logan for my birthday this year and it makes me so happy every time I wear it. I have also collaborated with jewellery designer Leyla Cemal on an ‘Alpines ring’ which can be bought on our online store. I have been so lucky as I have been given lots of incredible pieces from Dominic Jones, who is a very talented jewellery designer. He is obsessed with the natural world too and this oozes out of his designs.
UO: What would your dream house look like?
My dream house would be very similar to Patrick Gwynne’s modernist masterpiece, ‘Homewood House’, which is set in a forest not far from where my parents live. It was an iconic house when it was built in the 1930’s, inspired by both Le Corbusier’s ‘Villa Savoye’ and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Tugendhat House’. He was only twenty four years old when he built it. Gwynne designed all of the furniture and light fittings throughout the house so there is a real feeling of coherence. I was lucky enough to look around the house not too long ago and the amount of light that pours into the rooms is so striking, and the vast mass of green as you look out of the windows into the forest surrounding is incredible. It is a stunning building that is very timeless and inspiring to be in.
UO: What’s your favourite way to spend the weekend at home?
The weekend at home represents a time to relax. The studio in the garden is the work space and when it comes to the weekend we try to lock the door, walk away and have some time away to reflect on everything we have created in the week. Sometimes you have to work on the weekends but it is really healthy to try and step back. That way, once the new week begins you have fresh ears and a fresh mind to keep developing the music to make it as good as possible. What I like about home is that there is space to be creative and listen to music, which is important. I love to watch movies and documentaries and read art history books.
I am just about to start painting a couple of very large canvases for the living room. I have always loved painting and when I attended art school at eighteen, part of me thought that I would go on to be a fine artist. Another thing that I love to do is work on the garden, it really matters to me that the garden has a strong eco system for plants and wildlife to thrive in. The focus for me this summer has been attracting bees to the garden, so I have been building an area for lavender to grow. Over the past year I have been trying to attract more birds as well. As hippy as it may sound, being one with nature is one of the best ways to relax and I feel very blessed to have a little garden space to enable this to happen.
UO: If you could have someone over for dinner, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
The other night I was thinking about which people across time I would love to have over for a dinner party and I came up with a handful of people, for a full blown dinner party that would last all night and into the next morning!
Firstly, Brian Eno, because he is one of our musical icons and is so wise about the world in general. Having just watched his lecture as part of the John Peel series on the BBC, he is such a fascinating and intelligent force in the music industry. I have so many questions I would like to ask him about what helps him create and what drives him to keep making his music. This is also the case for producer Rick Rubin who I would love to sit down with and pick his brain. In times of struggle in the studio I like to read his pearls of wisdom in interviews he has given across time. He is an amazing man and has worked with some of the greatest musicians on the planet.
David Attenborough would be another person who I would love to be at the party. Both of us are deeply interested in the natural world and since we were children we have been watching his programmes. We are also so excited that our cover of ‘I Put a Spell on You‘ is on the trailer for the new David Attenborough series, The Hunt.
The next guests would be Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. ‘Just Kids’ is one of the best books I have ever read and their story together is so beautiful and inspiring. Patti is another person I would just love to sit down with and learn from. Jean Michel Basquiat is one of my favourite painters and although he was only young when he died he has so much influence on the art scene in New York at the time he was alive. I would love to hear about what drove him to put paint to canvas every day at the pace that he did.
I would also love to have Vivienne Westwood at the table too. She is not only an incredible designer but I greatly admire her ethos to campaign for a better earth. She was a fundamental force in the rise of the punk movement and I love the idea that fashion and music at that time in the seventies were so symbiotic. Last but no means least, I would love to have Rosa Parks at the party. The Civil Rights Movement has always been one that has greatly affected me and I have always been fascinated to learn more about it. In my opinion, Rosa is a totem for the movement and represents a very brave and inspiring moment in history.
The best way to spend Saturday morning is…Eating pancakes, drinking coffee, listening to music and reading Cereal Magazine.
My favourite vinyl to spin at home is…Michael Jackson ‘Bad’
I’m currently reading…‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt
My favourite time of day is… Twilight in Autumn