Interiorssneak peeks

Sneak Peek: Claire Coullon & Darren Johnson

by anne


If you were to see this sneak peek and not know where it was from, I bet you’d never guess: Prague, Czech Republic. Claire Coullon is a graphic designer and typographer specializing in custom lettering, and Darren Johnson is an artist who studies English literature and writes music. The two set up Op45, an independent design studio, almost four years ago, and it currently focuses on logo design, branding and typographic projects. They lived in the UK and Belgium prior to moving to Prague a year and a half ago. The apartment has a very open plan (see the last image), giving Claire and Darren many possibilities for changing the set-up of the rooms and keeping things new and interesting. Their style is “versatility through casual eclecticism.” Everything from antique and homespun to modern and functional items are collected to create an environment that can be as relaxed and airy as it is homey and intimate. Thanks so much, Claire and Darren! — Anne

Image above: We recently got a canvas print of Turner’s Snow Storm from the Tate Modern as an engagement gift from Darren’s grandparents. The handmade pillow case is from Bahrain where I lived as a teenager, the candlestick was a family present and the Orval beer mat is from a bar in Brussels.


Image above: Our studio is through the living room doors and beyond a side table that holds more trinkets and heirlooms. Another 1950s camera sits next to a small representative of my large wood type collection, which can usually be found littering the flat at its own pleasure.

More of Claire and Darren’s home after the jump . . .


Image above: Our old couch didn’t survive the last move in one piece, so we reupholstered the cushions and reconstructed it into an incredibly comfortable make-shift chaise lounge. The stripey woolen throw resting on top is from Mexico and was found on Etsy. The pillow on the right was made from antique linen by my grandmother and has some mysterious initials embroidered into the top corner. The coffee table was thrown together by Darren from old bits of wood, and a spare little nightstand sits nested underneath. The main artwork on this wall we found online, and the photographer behind it, Phil Reznikov, kindly gave us a copy to overlook one half of the living room.


Image above: The shelving helps to loosely divide the room without actually blocking any parts. It stages a medley of favorite tokens and mementos, including one of my grandfather’s cameras from when he was an army photographer, Darren’s Holga, some Belgian Trappist beer bottles, an old medical bottle from my other grandfather who used to be a vet and various musical instruments.


Image above: On the left is one of the cushions I made from old linen that has been in my family since the 19th century. The prints on the wall are spreads from an issue of the 1950s–1960s Typographica magazine, which is probably my favorite publication. The little statue of a chimp holding a human skull was one of the first things we got for the flat, and the tiny wooden case was an old mechanic’s container that now holds plectrums, a gift for Darren from my grandfather.


Image above: The music cabinet was gifted to us to provide a home for our stereo and turntable. After moving here, we arduously sanded away the wood varnish and gave it a new coat of white. The crate on the left was found sitting unwanted in our neighborhood and is fitted perfectly to hold some of our best vinyls, while the hanging jute coffee sack was picked up in France this year.


Image above: To the left of our kitchen’s core, steel framework displays our most enjoyed coffees and spices. A collection of our own blended teas occupies the dark wooden box on the second level.


Image above: The African teapot and antique strainer have been passed through many of my family’s generations and now sit proudly on an old tray picked up in a British thrift shop. In the background is our homemade chalkboard “to do” list, which usually finds itself overrun with new absurd doodles every day.


Image above: As we both work from home, having a dedicated workspace has always been an important part of our apartment set-up. We use a two-sided bookcase to divide our halves of the studio, leaving practical gaps to talk and pass things through when necessary.


Image above: Two prints look down at me from my desk as I work. The left is a 19th-century Lemercier & Cie. alphabet, while the right is my own design featuring some of my characters alongside examples of some other great typefaces. More wood type infests the metal rack alongside my regular work apparatus: inks and nibs, a feather quill, some old tins and current sketchbooks.


Image above: A few vintage tins on my desk hold some of the drawing tools I use most regularly. I found the olive oil box from one of my favorite Etsy shops, the harissa tin is from North Africa and the Camel one was originally a money box from a distant relative years ago.


Image above: The divider screen was one of the first things we built for our apartment after struggling to find anything that was big enough but also unobtrusive. It’s comprised of lightweight pieces of wood with thin fabric stretched across the frame to let the light through. The black and white photographs are copies of incredibly long exposure shots of New York City and Paris by Belgian photographer Jean-Michel Berts. Above the bed, the print is a Polish poster for Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet.

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