Liquorice Allsorts, a pair of striped tights, the motion graphics from Top of the Pops and an X-Ray Spex album cover are just some of the surprising visual references that have inspired the kaleidoscopic home of Ms Pink and Mr Black – a creative duo.
“It’s all to do with my punk background,” explains Ms Pink. “The whole punk ethic was DIY which, for me, has carried on into interiors. There’s never been a great plan,” she continues. “These interiors are really a buildup of references from my childhood and teenage years that have all just gradually emerged here in my home.”
Ms Pink has lived with her three sons in the same two-bedroom, split-level Victorian flat in Hackney, east London, for just under two decades. In that time, it has undergone many transformations. The fireplace alone has gone from gloss white to orange to purple to pink. Most recently, her stairs underwent a lockdown makeover. On the first floor, the treads were painted in flashes of neon pink and yellow, edged by a vermilion skirting board. On the top floor, fluorescent confetti tumbles down the risers. “I’ve noticed a lot of painted floors and blocks of colour on walls recently,” says Ms Pink. “And it’s really easy to do: all you need is two colours and a roll of masking tape.”
Ms Pink, 53, grew up in a richly patterned home in the Scottish village of Roslin. She remembers returning from school one day to find the magnolia hallway had been covered in Liberty-print wallpaper. “I was six or seven at the time, and my first thought was: ‘This is just so embarrassing!’” Her mother was a secondary school art teacher, so she was aware of the colour wheel from a young age. “I never really understood why this wheel came with a set of rules. I never really liked rules,” she says on reflection. “I guess that applies to colour, too.”
On moving to London in the mid-80s, Ms Pink became fully immersed in the punk scene. She squatted for the first few years and recalls regularly purchasing cheap tins of paint. “Even if I was only in a place for six months, I would always surround myself with colour, regardless of my living situation.” How does she feel if she isn’t surrounded by shards of neon or clashing stripes, I wonder. “I become like a withered flower or dead plant,” she says. “I really don’t feel comfortable at all.”
Ms Pink’s fearless approach to pattern and colour is indulged by a local car body shop, where she takes many of her possessions to be coated in high-octane lacquer. In the kitchen, for example, she decided on a palette of red, pink, neon yellow and grey. She bought cheap, plain carcasses and had them sprayed to her specification. A set of tubular steel chairs was also sprayed in neon yellow and reupholstered in pink leatherette from eBay. “You can still see them when the lights are switched off,” she says.
The shelves are stacked with kitchenalia from the 1980s. Bertie Bassett is next to Homepride’s Fred, and there is a collection of angular water flasks in red, pink, black and lilac on display. “Most of these things are objects I picked up years ago at car-boot sales in Walthamstow and Wood Green,” she explains. In the hallway, a collection of patterned, British-made trays reach the ceiling. “I’ve stopped buying them now,” she admits. “I used to be able to pick them up for a couple of pounds; now they’re more like £25.” She laments the demise of the decent car-boot sale – “even the charity shops are curated nowadays”.
Elsewhere, their home is used to display the couple’s own range of homeware, which references geometry, typography, music and optical illusions and includes graphic wallpaper, prints and cushions. Their design studio, Quirk & Rescue, was founded in 2011 when, in the midst of a trend for neutral, Scandi-inflected interiors, the duo saw a market for bright, bold, geometric patterns.
“It all began with a cheap table,” Ms Pink recalls. “We bought a table we didn’t particularly like, painted it in a pink and yellow punk design, posted it on social media, someone offered to buy it, and it continued from there.”
Ms Pink’s punchy aesthetic is increasingly in demand and she has recently started to take on commissions for interiors projects. “I do realise that my home is really Marmite,” she concedes. “But that’s fine because nobody else has to live in it. People live in the space that they want to live in.”