Erdem’s Historic Bloomsbury Townhouse Is an Effortless Blend of Past and Present

Anyone familiar with the romantic gowns crafted by Erdem Moralioglu likely knows that the British-Canadian fashion designer has a deep passion for history. Throughout his 17 years in business, the London-based designer’s shows—whether staged under the Greek revival portico of the British Museum or in the lavishly appointed halls of the National Portrait Gallery—have included sartorial references from Regency-era Britain to the Swinging Sixties.

So it comes as little surprise to discover that the designer felt at home in the historic London neighborhood of Bloomsbury, where the likes of Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster famously “lived in squares and loved in triangles.” In the latest video in Vogue’s Objects of Affection series, Moralioglu begins by pointing out that his home overlooks a deconsecrated graveyard. “It’s quite quiet around this area,” he jokes. “Because everyone is dead.”

Inside the historic Georgian townhouse, Moralioglu’s impressive eye for blending the past with the present is writ large. Courtesy of Moralioglu’s husband, architect Philip Joseph, the home has been given a stripped-back refresh, with whitewashed walls and uncarpeted stairs—all the better to showcase the couple’s impressive art collection. A still life painting by the house’s former resident, artist Duffy Ayres, hangs in her former studio, which today serves as their kitchen. “I thought there was something really beautiful about bringing something back into the house that would have been here before,” Moralioglu explains. “There was something quite poetic about it.”

Elsewhere, the property is teeming with various antique finds Moralioglu has sourced from auction houses around the world—“I would describe it as a kind of my compulsion, my addiction to auctions,” he admits—along with sketches by Cecil Beaton, an enormous Wolfgang Tillmans hanging over a staircase, and a full set of Aubrey Beardsley’s controversial 19th-century quarterly The Yellow Book. But not all of Moralioglu’s treasures are from centuries past: One of his most beloved gadgets? An alarm clock that automatically boils and brews a fresh cup of coffee at his bedside. “You just roll out of bed, move your arm, reach, and have your first coffee of the day, which is great!” he says with a laugh. 

Arguably the house’s most surprising feature, however, lies in the basement, where Joseph lined the walls of their cozy subterranean space with cork and installed a Japanese ofuro soaking tub made out of hinoki wood, which becomes fragrant upon contact with warm water. (They certainly didn’t have one of those back in the days of the Bloomsbury group.) “There’s something kind of wonderful about the fact that you can’t have soap in here—it’s all about soaking and the ritual of soaking,” the designer says. “It’s definitely the most relaxing object I’ve shown you today.”

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