Zoe Chan Eayrs and her husband Merlin Eayrs met when they were students at the prestigious Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Upon discovering how well they worked together, they founded Chan+Eayrs, a practice specialising in the creation of bespoke homes.
Their modus operandi is very different from other design firms. For a start, they only ever work on one project at a time, and they are their own clients. Their evocative projects include The Weavers House – a renovated apartment in an 18thcentury Hugenot-style townhouse in London’s Spitafield, and The Beldi – a revamped apartment in a former Shoreditch shoe factory, which were both lovingly crafted by the pair from start to finish.
Following a philosophy that they refer to as “home making”, Chan+Eayrs take on the role of investor, developer, architect, interior designer, and craftsmen, creating memorable spaces that they themselves would be pleased to live in.
We speak with Zoe Chan Eayrs to find out more.
What’s it like working together with your husband?
When we became friends, we realised very quickly that we had chemistry both as a couple and in terms of our aesthetic sensibilities. We work well as a team because of our shared tastes. At Chan+Eayrs, we take on different responsibilities according to our strengths. I love dreaming up new ideas, finding sites, and developing concepts whilst Merlin is more hands-on and likes to do the building and crafting. We both take charge at different stages of a project, so we can each have some personal and creative distance before we reconvene to discuss key moves and decisions.
Tell us about your design philosophy and approach?
Unlike other practices, we have no clients. We find our own sites, then design, make and choreograph everything right down to the final cup on the table ourselves. Every site stems from our own interest and vision for a place as a home. As there are no other parties such as clients or contractors involved, we never have to compromise on our vision. This way, our design concept does not get diluted or altered in the hands of other parties, or during the construction phases. We only make one home at a time, so for at least two years, we live in each home when it’s just a threadbare, unfurnished space. This is a very immersive process, and the design and details emerge from the emotions and moods we feel from the structure of the building. In this way, the home evolves organically and is refined each step of the way.
What does the concept of “home making” mean to you?
Our homes gain character and depth through our intimate involvement. Ideas have the time they need to grow fully and percolate through every aspect of the home. Each corner is lovingly considered and attended to, and every object is collected and curated with intent. Compared to spaces created more remotely – either digitally or by someone removed from the construction process –, our spaces are more intimate and relatable; more human.
Leading image photography by Taran Wilkhu and The Modern House