The house of spatial designer Anna Burns is exactly like Burns herself - full of surprises. Upon meeting Burns you’re struck by how incredibly down-to-earth she is, despite designing the immersive store for us at KOIBIRD and traveling the world to create windows and pop-ups for luxury fashion houses such as Moncler, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès (to name but a few). Wearing aValentine Witmeur Lab knit, tracksuit, and trainers, she greets me warmly with tattoo-covered arms.
Burns’ home, which looks ordinary at the outset, is utterly transformed within. There are traditional Victorian architectural notes with fireplaces and large windows, and rooms are filled to the brim with paintings, books, cosy furniture, and a Gohonzon (a Buddhist prayer box which Burns received this year during a special ceremony), but make your way past the colourful clutter and suddenly the house opens into a contrasting industrial space. Metal grate stairs lead down into a concrete-walled open plan kitchen and living room.
For Burns, creating welcoming spaces like this is natural, but what if you’re both a tablescaping and dinner party novice? These are the rules to follow:
1. “Incorporate nostalgia but modernise it.” Never decorate your table with entirely new items and objects. Incorporate elements of you or from the past - this can be anything from a present gifted by your parents to your favourite 70s style Peppercorn grinder.
2. “Embrace silliness.” Hide little surprising elements across the table to provide entertaining twists for your guests. In today's case, Burns has laid the table with a pale pink table runner. On closer inspection, it has been covered in printed boobs.
3. Don’t waste time on cooking. Cook or prep something that enables you to be away from the stove so you can chat to guests.
4. Music is the answer. Always. In Burns’s case she has a collection of vinyl records from Barbara Streisand to 90s electro - if you end up dancing until 6am, so be it.
Aside from the living room raves, Burns is keenly looking ahead towards 2022. “Next year is an exciting time for me as I am planning an exhibition,” she says. The date has not been firmly set yet, but Burns has already prepped it (of course). “If I am given a show space with only two weeks’ notice, I will be ready. You can’t just plan, you need to be ready and jump in.” And what about New Year resolutions? “I really want to get better at BMX.” I wouldn’t expect anything less.
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