My London: Melanie Porter – Furniture and Furnishings Designer

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Melanie Porter Design is a studio focused on using traditional crafts to create handmade furniture and furnishings for customers looking for truly individual, handcrafted items. Working with clients to create bespoke colour and pattern designs, founder Melanie Porter is dedicated to ensuring every customer has a beautifully crafted item which fits perfectly in their home.

Everything, from the knitted upholstery panels and individually hand crocheted buttons to the spinning of the giant wool, is done by hand. The result of this incredibly labour-intensive process is a stunning and unique work of art, destined to be a future family heirloom.

Born into a family of craftsmen Melanie still uses the many of the tools used for generations in her family.

Trained at the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s College, Melanie’s ability to create exquisite, textured fabrics which are individually knitted and felted for every project has drawn attention from clients and press all over the world.

We caught up with Melanie for the latest in our ‘My London’ feature.

 

Favourite neighbourhood:

I lived for many years in the Barbican. I have always loved the modern, raw concrete next to ancient Roman walls and medieval streets. Its really transformed in the past few years with independent boutiques, small gallery spaces and an eclectic mix of foodie destinations.

 

Favourite place for brunch:

There are almost too many places for brunch to choose from on Exmouth Market. I particularly love the cornbread at Caravan, the calzone at Santore and anything at Moro.

 

Best coffee in London:

I now live in Dulwich and there are some lovely independent cafes for an al fresco coffee on the way to the numerous parks. Parlour on Norwood Road and Romeo Jones on Dulwich Village are both excellent and do an indulgent line of cakes too.

 

Favourite gallery or museum:

I am a recent convert to the wonders of the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill. There are the most amazing views of London from the hilltop in the surrounding gardens. There is a secret aquarium in the basement and a very noisy musical instrument room that my two children love to bash away in.

 

Tell us a secret:

I stay up late into the night on the pretense of working but its more often than not to watch the latest box set I am addicted too. I can get through a lot episodes whilst knitting a single panel for my chairs – currently I am racing through House of Cards.

 

Favourite place to shop:

Ardingly antiques and collectors fairs are run every few months in the Sussex countryside. It’s a bit of an early morning mission to get there on time but it is worth it. It really is a treasure trove for lovers of mid century and older furniture and homewares. I get a lot of my chair frames from here and almost always end up getting something for our home or garden as well. The last thing I bought was a vintage surveyor’s rod, it is a beautifully worn, hand-crafted piece that gives me a lot of pleasure to look at and hold.

 

Favourite place to find inspiration:

The Southbank is the best thing in London in my opinion. I love watching the people ambling along, the entertainers and buskers, the amazing skaters in the underhang, the Thames itself swirling under Waterloo bridge. There is always something new, something different to experience and it is a great place to keep a finger on the pulse of the city.

 

Best London destination for a date:

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern for some drinks and avant garde cabaret. If your date can maintain their composure and still have a good time here, they are a keeper!

 

Favourite park:

I used to live in Notting Hill and I spent many happy summer days relaxing in Holland Park. There are so many lovely corners but nothing beats a picnic and a cold drink whilst sitting on the lawns listening to the opera drifting out of the auditorium for free

 

Favourite food market:

I really try to support local businesses so I have to say Herne Hill Farmers Market on a Sunday by the station. There are enough stalls for just about everything you want. Drum and Kernel do an enormous bag of salt and sweet popcorn that I only allow myself to buy if I have been good all week. And we regularly get our weekend loaf from the Brick House Bakery.

 

Your sanctuary in the city:

West Norwood Cemetery is one the great monumental cemeteries of London. It is not too big but stunningly landscaped and utterly peaceful compared to the busy roads just outside. A quick stroll through here is just enough to reset, recharge and refocus on the day ahead.

 

What inspires you?

Fabrics, fibres and tools inspire me. I love to gather a bunch of materials and then work out what to do with them.

 

This season I’m loving:

Having copious amounts of fresh herbs growing in my garden. When we moved last year I planted lots of pots and love that I can now pop out and grab handfuls for cooking.