Tim Parker lives with his wife Yvonne and two children, 10 and 12, in London’s Barbican. In the 1990s, Tim set up the fashion brand, Burro. He dressed the Britpop stars of the time and had stores in Covent Garden, Soho and Tokyo.We talk about how these times created a segue into the world of modern design and interiors and how family life flows in the Barbican as well as his current business,Design for the People, an agency looking after Kartell and Frama CPH in the UK.
What is your background?
“Prior to getting into the design world, I had a fashion brand for fifteen years, which sadly went bankrupt in 2005. An old customer of mine, Magnus England, had a store in Stockholm and moved to the UK to study. At the same time, he also set up Skandium; back then Skandium was a new concept to bring Scandinavian design to the UK.
After Burro closed down, it was a natural progression to move into design and we partnered up with Skandium to run their wholesale division, representingMuuto, Louis Poulsen and Royal Copenhagen. Five years ago, we parted ways and set up Design for The People - a name that reflects our belief that great design should be for everyone.”
You live in the Barbican, can you tell us a bit more?
“We’ve lived here for almost twenty years now. I’ve always loved the Barbican and thought what an amazing place it would be to live. When Yvonne and I first got together we rented a tiny studio apartment. In total, we’ve lived in five apartments here. Now we have two children aged twelve and ten. It’s a fantastic place to live as a family.
People often ask us if we’re going to move out, for more space. We’ve got a couple of balconies and the wonderful community gardens; I never have to cut the grass.”
Photo Credit: Nicole Heredge
What's the experience like now you are a family?
“I think with the Barbican, once you get in, you never want to leave! Our neighbours recently moved to Leicestershire for more space, but they were back within a year.
You get hooked. There’s a really nice community. It’s a fantastic place to raise a family.
It’s like village life but in the centre of London!
You’ve got the communal gardens, everybody’s out there chatting with the kids playing together. It’s enclosed and safe. They can just run around. You don’t need a car.”
What changes have you seen in 20 years?
“Well, I think, prior to having children we were less involved with the community. When you have children there are lots of family activities in the communal spaces so you meet people quickly.
The main thing though is the skyline. It’s changed dramatically in twenty years. What used to be the NatWest Tower (Tower 42) is dwarfed. I can only just see the top of the Gherkin. We feel a slight sense of protection too, for the landscape around us too.”
How do you create a space for everyone in the family?
“It’s a challenge. The flats are not huge. The kids’ bedrooms are small, for sure. We had a large barrel vault bedroom and renovated it to make two bedrooms and a bathroom; we’ve maintained the architectural feel wherever possible.”
How would you describe the interiors of your home? Does it reflect you?
“When we moved into this apartment, it was a shell with plenty of original features. We’ve tried to maintain that. For example, we had an original Barbican 1969 oven; we’ve replaced it, as you can imagine. We still have the original Barbican hob area and rings. They are a challenge sometimes but we want to keep that Barbican feeling. “
Tell us about the pieces in your apartment.
“I’ve got a shelf library system from Frama CPH which dominates our living room. It’s a really striking piece.
We want to go beyond a mid-century museum and mix old and new. I bought a Swedese Lamino Chair in Berlin in about 2002. I passed a junk shop selling the chair for about £150! We’ve still got it now, it’s the iconic piece in our house. I replaced the sheepskin a couple of years ago.”
What makes you happiest at home
“I work from home, so it’s important that the space feels comfortable and inspiring. We don’t fill it with too much furniture so it’s not overcrowded. I’m smiling as I say this, because with a family of four, in a small flat, there is a lot of stuff. But we try to keep it as minimal as possible!
We all have a place to retreat to but we enjoy communal living and spending time together.”
Where do you look/read for interior inspiration?
“The brands that I work with are pretty inspiring, I’m lucky. I spend a lot of time in Milan and Copenhagen and so both those cities inspire me. I’ll be at the Salone di Mobile in April, and then in June, we’ve got the Three Days of Design festival in Copenhagen. I’m on the border of Clerkenwell so I’m surrounded by design and design inspiration all the time.”
What's a typical Sunday morning in your house like?
“As lazy as possible. We like to go down to the river, it's a short stroll and we often take a walk down by the bankside.”