Claire Lloyd is a very talented creative. She has worked with magazines and brands like Vogue, World of Interiors, Elle Decoration, French Connection, Jo Malone, Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Dulux creating identity and visuals, and her talent doesn't stop there. She's also an interior design guru who's not scared of getting her hands dirty, renovated high end homes, big and small, internationally. She is also the author of two beautiful books, Sensual Living and My Greek Island Home. After years of living the busy, yet dreamy, life in London, she pursued her other life dream and moved to the island of Lesvos, Greece, where she practiced what she knows best, simplicity.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND RECIPES: CLAIRE LLOYD @clairelloydloves | MODEL: HANNAH OSWIN | ASSISTANT: ROSIE WHELAN
Claire, I feel you're ahead of the time with minimal living and living with no clutter. It's such a phenomenon these days, but you have been doing this for years. How did you get there?
Minimal living comes very naturally to me - it’s my clarity, it opens up my creativity.
Moving to London and working on The World of Interiors magazine certainly had an impact. With no light to speak of, most days being grey, I was keen to keep my living spaces sparse, emphasising any space and light there was. At The World of Interiors magazine, I was surrounded by images of beautiful houses and apartments on a daily basis and always found myself drawn to the minimal.
For me minimal living is not something I consider, it’s natural and essential. I just can’t function if I don’t live this way.
I feel your simple approach is consistent throughout every aspect of your life, including food. Is this an influence from living in Greece?
My simple approach extends across every aspect of my life and goes hand in hand with minimal living. Again it’s very natural and the essence of me.
Greece is just an extension of this simplicity. I chose where we live in Greece because of its simplicity, I just love it. It gives me so much more appreciation for everything around me; nature, animals, and our village friends.
Whether I’m at home in Sydney, London or on Lesvos my simple approach remains a constant. I create simplicity in what I wear, what I cook, where I live, taking a photo, designing the interior, filming emotive imagery or designing a brochure or a magazine.
Tell us about your favorite renovation project.
All renovating projects are close to my heart, however there is one that was more major than the others and really much more than a renovation.
Around 15 years ago I created a 2,500 sq. ft. lateral apartment on the top of a building in east London. Following my friend’s suggestion, I went to see an old print factory that had been purchased by developers to create residential apartments. When I visited the building I asked the agent what was going to happen with the roof space.
He informed me that the developers were going to add another floor and make it two penthouse apartments. I said I would be interested in buying the space to create one single apartment to live in. He assured me the developers would not be interested in my proposition. I on the other hand was pretty determined to make them interested and after a very long drawn out process I bought the airspace on the top of the building. There was an agreement that the developers would build the four walls and the roof as per their approved council plans.
I set to work on the most amazing lateral apartment with three terraces. Two of them were enormous, running the length of both the north and south facing sides of the building. It was a huge project and I worked with a great builder to make it the most incredible, simple, minimal light apartment.
I designed it exactly the way in which I wanted to live. Walls, doorways, ceilings and cupboards were all seamless. Every wall has storage on the one side. It was like an enormous bright white box with big empty walls on which to display art. Most of the art displayed was by my very talented partner, artist, Matthew Usmar Lauder (now Walkswithdogs). There was a 2.5 X 3.5 sq. ft. skylight in the sitting room. This was craned into position. In fact, most things had to be craned up from the street. In the beginning rubbish skips and building materials were craned up and on completion it was all our furniture possessions that were delivered that way.
I had a separate space at the side of the main living space. One of the most exciting things was that the elevator to my apartment was entry by key only. It was completely private. The elevator opened into the apartment, it was just like being in the TV program Dynasty, it was fabulous.
After two and a half years I got itchy feet. I wanted to create something new so I sold the apartment to architect Zaha Hadid and moved on.
Tell us about Sensual Living and My Greek Island Home.
My first book Sensual Living was published by the UK publishers Conran Octopus in 1998. They approached me to create a book of my interpretation of the senses. They understood this was a subject that was close to my heart. It was the dream job for me as all imagery I create is emotive and that was exactly how I wanted the book to be.
At the time I did not have the confidence to physically write the text and so I called upon the talent of my dear friend, Ros Byam Shaw to make sense of my thoughts something she did brilliantly. It was a lovely process sitting with her discussing our senses and how important they were to me and everyday life.
I worked with three different photographers and directed and styled the shots to give them consistency, this gave the same look and feel across all the images. I was also involved with the design. I enjoyed every part of the process of making this beautiful timeless book.
My second book My Greek Island Home was published in Australia by Penguin Lantern. It came about by me being introduced by a friend to the publisher Julie Gibbs back in 2011.
Julie said how much she had loved Sensual Living and how much she would like to publish something by me. Her words took me by surprise and on that first meeting she told me to go away and think about what I would like to write about. She also said write about something you love. It struck me immediately that it must be my new life on the Island of Lesvos.
My partner Matthew had recently bought me a great camera so I had already started documenting daily life in an authentic Greek village. The project developed from there. This time around I took all the photos myself, digital photography gave me confidence and Julie gave me the encouragement I needed to write all the text. In 2012, My Greek Island Home was born, it was a real achievement. It was such a pleasure to connect with our wonderful village friends and the landscape of Lesvos and to be able to share with the reader a simpler way of living.
Tell us about your latest creative pursuits.
I am a lover of creative projects and have lots of projects in the pipeline.
Matthew Usmar Lauder, my artist partner and I recently worked together curating art for the newly renovated Sydney home of a top agency creative. He and his wife said their walls were crying out for art and expressed a particular bias towards Matthews work. It was a lovely creative project and along with some great paintings and prints of Matthews, we included a few pieces from different artists, a photograph from Gary Heery’s Bird series and a couple of my large flower images. For Matthew and I, it was great to work together on this project and we are continuing to do more curating both in Sydney and London.
Another pursuit has been engaging Italian based architects Lazzarini Pickering to develop a proposal for a 1940’s radar station called Gin Head in Scotland which I am a partner in. The extraordinary vision for this radar station Lazzarini Pickering have created now has planning approval and we are at present talking with potential buyers.
I have just started preparing the visuals for a federation house in Sydney’s, Lavender Bay situated above the secret garden. A beautiful home in a stunning location. I am really looking forward to seeing this one completed next year.
I am also excited to be picking up my camera, photographing and filming for a couple of brands.
I continue to document the island of Lesvos which has been effected hugely on so many levels by the refugee crisis. I promote the beauty of this island and make people from the outside realise Lesvos needs them to come and support it, just as the generous people of Lesvos have supported the refugees who have landed here.
Try Claire's simple Greek-inspired recipes.
Fresh crisp lettuce, pomegranate and walnut salad
Wash the leaves of a lettuce and put them onto a serving plate or in a bowl.
Add a fresh, juicy pomegranate include juice.
Crush a handful of walnuts and throw on top.
Delicious healthy raspberry and banana ice-cream
1 frozen banana
1 cup of frozen raspberries
A dash of coconut milk (not too much as it will make the ice cream too soft)
A sprig of mint (for serving)
Quickly mix the raspberries, banana and coconut milk in a blender or NutriBullet, be careful not to over blend.
Serve with a sprig of mint on top.
Watermelon, fresh mint and feta salad
Cut watermelon into chunks, put onto a serving plate or in a bowl.
Crumble feta over the top and throw in a handful of fresh mint leaves.
Toss and serve.