Conversations with Sam Lupton

Sam is obsessed with vintage. Italian vintage to be precise. From fashion to furniture, the guy lives and breathes it. He travels to Italy at least three times a year to scour boutiques and flea markets, returning home to London with a flurry of Milanese 60s treasures.

Photo: Sam Lupton

He developed his taste for chic luxury when he was working with Bert Frank, a British brand creating bespoke mid-century brass lighting. He fell in love with the skill of making beautiful things that serve a purpose, and wanted to make that a bigger part of his life. He went on to study interior design and now creates residential interiors for an independent practise called Studio Iro.

Photo: Studio Iro

Alongside his work as an interior designer, he runs a side business called Tiny Window, buying and selling vintage clothing. He’s fond of clean shapes with exquisite details and doesn’t shy away from a bold pattern or colour. These flavours trickle into his interiors, giving him a signature style that he’s learning to nurture every day.

What trends are you seeing in interiors right now?

I’m seeing a lot of raw natural materials with muted colour tones everywhere right now. I love creating spaces like that, and adding a bit of intrigue through the use of textured fabrics and the odd pop of colour in art or a light fitting. It creates a little disconnect with a soft colour palette which I really enjoy.

There are also lots of amazing designers using really innovative materials like mycelium to bring a natural, sustainable element to their projects. Mycelium is a biodegradable fungal material and designers have found a way to make it look cool, like in Hackney Wick’s Silo cocktail lounge that I fitted out for Nina & Co.

Photo: Silo London

What influences your interior style?

For me, fashion and interiors go hand in hand. We go on buying trips for Tiny Window to source vintage designer garments handpicked from flea markets and boutiques in different countries, and they’re such a huge inspiration for me. I once saw Raf Simons buying a vintage baby blue velvet sofa from an antique market in Paris during design week last year. That was pretty cool.

I also love abstract art. If I’m ever struggling with a colour scheme for an interior, I look at artists to see how they’ve used colour in painting and it really helps me piece things together in my head. Like Helen Frankenthaler - I love how she builds up emotion by mixing colour.

Photo: Helen Frankenthaler - Sacred Theater

Design crushes

Gio Ponti - he makes complex things look simple.

Dimore Milano - Everything they do is so delicate

Apparatus - I love the materials and finishes they use.

Favourite room & why

In general, the living room is my favourite spot to work or chill. In a dream world, I’d spend all my time in The Living Room by Banda Property in New York. It’s immense. It overlooks central park and is just incredible.

Photo: Banda Property

Last DIY project you did

I built and hung four acoustic panels for my girlfriend’s music studio.

Have you ever hung a shelf?

Yes. String shelves, again for the studio. First time wonky, second time success.

Photo: Sam Lupton

Are you into DIY?

This is a pretty tactile profession so I think it’s important to be hands-on. I’m looking into carpentry courses right now as well so I can learn how to build furniture and bespoke joinery. As an interior designer, I quite often get asked to source a piece of furniture that I can’t find anywhere so I’d love to be able to just make whatever I want.

Shaggy carpeted bathroom or furry toilet seat

Can I go off-course and choose a furry green spiral staircase?

Photo: Gio Ponti, “La Scarabeo Sotto Una Foglia”

Beaded curtains or taxidermy

Taxidermy all day.

Round bed or mirror on ceiling

Love a round bed. Although the two kind of go hand in hand.

Favourite item in your home

A vintage lemon yellow resin and brass Italian coat hook thrifted in a Milanese flea market.

Photo: Sam Lupton

If your house was burning down what 3 things would you save?

Macbook, Olivia (my girlfriend), and a French Art Deco painting that we bought in an antique market in Marrakech.

Photo: Sam Lupton

Dream (wish) product

Camaleonda sofa designed in the 70s by Mario Bellini for B&B Italia. As many modules as you’ll let me have :)

Photo: B & B Italia