Design duo Susie and Evros Agathou of Avocado Sweets have injected a concoction of colour, quirkiness and cutting-edge technology into their Islington home. The Resident takes a tour of their imaginative home that combines exposed brickwork and beams with Art Deco and even a Lego wall…
Words: Rachel Mantock
Together, the couple and force behind an eclectic, award-winning interior design, branding and communications company, Susie and Evros Agathou have defied the odds. They have created a colour experience that fuses futuristic technology with pockets and splashes of vintage-retro influences.
At six years young, Avocado Sweets already has a flurry of commercial and residential achievements under its belt, each project having been approached with youthful exuberance and a grounded lack of pretentiousness that is not so often seen in art and design circles. This is something that is evident in every room of their family apartment in Islington.
Evros, the design and project management lead of Avocado Sweets, says: ‘I like to think we are grounded. Frankly, we run a studio whereby we are only as good as our last job. We don’t have the luxury of screwing up three or four people’s restaurants then saying, “so what?”’
They are not the typical artsy, run of the mill design types, Evros – who beams about his Emirates season ticket, joking that the stadium was the only reason they decided to settle in Islington with a laddish humour – and Susie, with her poised yet fun loving personality.
Of the planning and thinking behind their home that was purchased in a state of disuse, branding and PR lead of the business, Susie says: ‘We were really aiming for something that was colourful and enjoyable without being silly, a space that everybody could enjoy. We have two young children so it was really important that they felt at home.’
Homes are not generally as fit for purpose as they need to be, we have annoyances and what we try to do as designers is to engineer those annoyances out
Adding to this, Evros explains: ‘The starting point for us was, how do we want to live? There was a lot of reconfiguring of layouts, making sure it worked for us, there are four of us and some cats. Our kids are quite boisterous, they don’t sit in a corner and read a book.
‘It was all about, what paint are we going to use? Is it scrubbable? What floor are we going to use? Will it get damaged? Or do we choose the type of floor that actually looks better the more battered it gets? You have to build in the behaviours as much as you can.’
Exposed brickwork and wooden ceiling beams strip this home back to its origins in the Victorian era, building up from there, Art Deco elements and slabs of flamboyant colour sweep across walls and floors, giving it life and vivaciousness. The Lego wall by the kitchen is loved by children and adults alike, in fact, Susie is sure the adults have more fun with it than the kids.
The Lego wall by the kitchen is loved by children and adults alike, in fact, Susie is sure the adults have more fun with it than the kids
The kitchen itself has a retro, country kitchen vibe, with rustic wood cladding on the breakfast bar and jar lighting hanging from the exposed, wooden ceiling beams. Pops of vibrant colour and mismatching wood aspects are tied together by Metro wall tiles and a ceiling-to-floor length chalkboard wall.
A mountain of multicoloured modules fit together to form their TV and storage cabinet, taking up the entire wall of the lounge area, along with what looks like light bulbs in socks (pictured above) hanging from the ceiling beams, adding another gamesome layer to the décor.
Of these weird and wonderful light fixtures, Evros says: ‘My mind is a slightly sad database of things that I have seen that I store away and luckily Susie has a good memory for names. We saw these lights about five years ago at the 100% Design show. This lady was exhibiting from Singapore and we really loved her lights but never found the right project to use them with. Our space was really right for them so we got in touch with her.’
While the design of this home is impressive, it’s the gadgets and gizmos that are the stand out performers here. The open plan layout does not comply with fire regulations on its own, so they installed a misting system; tiny nodules on the wall that sense if there is a fire, releasing an extremely fine mist that essentially starves the fire of oxygen and puts it out.
While the design of this home is impressive, it’s the gadgets and gizmos that are the stand out performers here
Rather than having radiators taking up wall space, the heating for this apartment is installed in the skirting boards, along with a smart system that tracks behaviour, sensing when you are near home, switching on and off according to where you are and adjusting to your heat preferences.
Susie says: ‘The misting system was designed by students at the Royal College of Art and they won the James Dyson award in 2009. Dyson actually said that every house should have one because it’s better than a smoke alarm that just tells you to get out the house, this actually puts the fire out.’
‘The smart heating system is a bit Big Brother because it tracks us through the GPS in our phones,’ adds Evros. ‘People have reservations about this because obviously some people don’t want to be tracked. Homes are not generally as fit for purpose as they need to be, we have annoyances and what we try to do as designers is to engineer those annoyances out.’
Laughing at himself now, he says: ‘I used to go into restaurants and sit down and then tweet them complaining about the seats not being comfortable or too upright. There is no room or need for bad design.’
Although they don’t have a set style, Avocado Sweets love taking elements of different eras and merging them together. They are currently working on something that is a mix between Art Deco and urban street, coining it ‘urban deco’.
Avocado Sweets love taking elements of different eras and merging them together. They are currently working on something that is a mix between Art Deco and urban street, coining it ‘urban deco’
Evros loves the stripping back of old buildings to reveal joints and techniques that the modern trade no longer have the skill set for. The rose tinted, peachy, Gatsby-esque mirror that sits gracefully in their dining space is the perfect example of this, originally featuring a sage green glass that could not be replaced because the skills needed to produce that colour glass are now lost.
When asked about their approach to designing and modifying spaces, as well as their signature look. Evros replies: ‘We are everything and nothing, taste is subjective. We have done a lot of industrial spaces, but would also do something quite modern in a blink. Our battle is to bring colour to London but we wouldn’t foist mad colours onto a client that is quite sedate.’
‘There is an insecurity in design because you are exposed so people gravitate towards the more expensive option. If you have real discerning taste, you don’t always need to go for that option. Designing something at a price point for the masses is more of an achievement. We hide behind cost, but there is evidence of really good design at a reasonable price point.’
Susie is an Upper Street fan, she says: ‘Everyone is creating spaces that are fun to be in,’ whilst Evros is more of a Holloway Road kind of guy, stating: ‘You find these little gems where they haven’t spent a lot of money but are doing something really creative, the contrast between the two streets is great.’