After thirty years in the British fashion industry Lionel Copley has made the move into interior design. With a brilliant eye for art and textiles, the designer has created two successful bed and breakfast guesthouses in Hastings Old Town - a place he originally visited while searching for a simple coastal bolthole..
'I don't like parking something.' Fashion and interior designer Lionel Copley is talking about working with architects on the store design for British brand Reiss, for which he used to be Creative Director: he's someone who sees and participates in all aspects of each venture he works on, and likes to ensure a project's disparate threads are woven together for a holistic result. Lionel does things carefully and aims to realise the full potential of his many endeavours. He's like that with people, too, engaging with local designers on his projects in London and Hastings, and supporting the creative ideas of those people - many of whom are artists and friends - who work with him at Swan House and The Old Rectory, the two bed and breakfasts he has designed and co-owns in Hastings Old Town on the East Sussex coast.
After going to art school in Scarborough, Lionel studied fashion as an undergraduate at Newcastle University. He went on to do post-graduate work at London's Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. After graduation he began working for the great Katharine Hamnett, and continued this for about sixteen years. Next up was Reiss. These days he continues to consult for Katharine Hamnett, now owned by a Japanese company.
He still loves fashion design - 'clothing design, fashion, I enjoy it, it gets easier when you've been doing it for thirty years' - but is also enjoying the challenge of interiors. 'Fashion design is how I started out... interior design is what I am trying to do more of.'
Swan House and The Old Rectory have been a huge success; the latter is also a very popular wedding venue, and in both places the sense of being at 'home' is no accident. Lionel has created welcoming spaces rooted in Hasting's history, both old and modern (all rooms in The Old Rectory are named after streets in the town).
Hastings itself has a thriving community of artists, designers and writers. Not surprisingly the Jerwood Gallery is a favourite spot to visit. Designed by HAT Projects and named for John Jerwood, a philanthropist and businessman, the gallery exhibits the Jerwood Collection of twentieth and twenty-first century British art.
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Lionel Copleys favourite places are: