Apartment a study in contrasts in a quiet neighborhood
A fashion designer’s apartment in a quiet Shanghai neighborhood on Shaoxing Road makes an impact with its skilful mix of statement pieces and arresting contrasts.
It’s important for Natasha Ivachoff and Rodney Evans to feel they can “just be” in their home, so the things they have around the two-level apartment have to mean something to them.
The couple moved into the 260-square-meter apartment nine years ago. “We looked at many places but back then there was more on offer and affordable if you were willing to do some self renovations. We found this ideal one in the first month,” Ivachoff said.
“The condition was good and what I liked the most was that the guest rooms are on a different floor so it offers our guests privacy when they stay with us. Beyond that, we have a big roof deck that is so rare to find in Shanghai so we can often host friends gatherings and parties during warmer months.”
Ivachoff is the creative director who runs the fashion brand Missy Skins. Born in Beijing to a Chinese mother and Russian father, she grew up in Sydney, Australia, where she met her husband. She followed him to China a decade ago. Evans runs Central Studio, a professional photo studio and production house.
The couple didn’t change much of the layout and kept all the fixtures and features as original. “However, we did modernize the lighting. We have a very eclectic style so things come and go… we continue to style our home to keep it evolved over the years,” she said.
The rooms flow seamlessly into one another. The couple’s design formula is simple: serene background for walls; eclectic mixture for furniture and details. “I tend to add to colors with decorative items and soft furnishings that you can take away, so the background stays the same,” Ivachoff said.
“Our home reflects our life and experiences … oddly mashed together. We are bohemians so the bohemian style is naturally reflected in our style.”
Ivachoff’s fashion philosophy of quality and unexpected combinations also underpins her approach to interiors. Vintage treasures found at flea markets sit alongside modern pieces, while clever touches give the overall look a sense of individuality.
“It’s very important to feel at home and surrounded by the things that mean something to us,” Ivachoff said.
The furniture comes from all over the place — bought, gifted, custom made and found. There are also a few pieces of furniture from their friend Nicole Teng, the designer behind Brut Cake. “She uses traditional local fabrics and reworks each piece of furniture with different characters. Each chair has a personality and I just love it.”
Ivachoff has a thing for traditional crafts with innate ethic style — something that has an earthy feel like raw timber, stone, metal and hand-crafted textiles. ”As new age gypsies, we travel the world and have friends and family all over. Our life and home reflects our experiences as we pick up things along the way. As a fashion designer I also love the small touches of luxury — for instance scented amber stones and hand-poured candles.”
Each artwork on display is dear to Ivachoff’s heart as well. “I like everything we hang and most of them are either graphic or a little kitsch. The art pieces are collected over the years from various adventures and artists we have met or inspired us,” she said.
The painting of the baby playing with blue balls is by Chinese artist Ying Yefu and chosen for them by their friends from Labour Art. “I love a graphic style that has some kind of social comment especially when it’s not obvious,” Ivachoff said. “The oil on canvas — the portrait of the bulldog — is by Japanese artist Tomoaki Ichikawa that is very regal-looking but the subject is a dog. I love the humor.”
“I also adore large-size works but unfortunately we have very limited wall space so we often pick small works to hang in the house.
Aesthetics and balance is important as well as beautiful design. “It is not about the price tag but more about how it makes you feel, its journey and story. The Anatolian vintage kilim rug in the living room is from the 1950s with the color from natural dyes. It feels earthy and organic so always brings a feeling of grounding to the space,” she said. “I arrived in Shanghai with two suitcases so our home here is a real reflection of our China journey.”
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: Big city with a village atmosphere
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Eclectic, warm, comfortable
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: Cup of tea. And kiss my boy!
Q: How do you unwind?
A: Music, reading, games
Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home?
A: Bedroom and kitchen, the heart of any home
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: It looks out on to the living room balcony with views down the lane.
Q: How do you scent your home?
A: I love candles and flowers, my husband burns incense ...
Q: What’s your favorite object at home?
A: The white owl. It’s hand-carved out of store and found in Sri Lanka.
Q: Where do you source furniture in Shanghai?
A: Any good stores. I like to go into stores rather than buy online. I love to see proportion and feel the materials.