Established over a decade ago in 2005, Gibberd and Hill successfully combined their passion for contemporary architecture to establish a business and service that has been described by the Financial Times as an ‘exclusive puzzle that is as much a lifestyle brand, publisher and heritage champion as it is a seller of houses.’ Sharing backgrounds in journalism, Gibberd (who began his career as a writer on design and architecture, working for five years as a Senior Editor at The World of Interiors) and Hill (who was Design Editor at Wallpaper under founding editor Tyler Brûlé and has written for The Guardian, The Times and The Independent) believe in the importance of functionality; that good design should be intuitive and timeless. Providing a mixture of intimate and large social spaces - a place of refuge on one day, and a venue for celebrations on another. With studies that prove natural light’s positive impact on wellbeing; improving our mood and happiness, the duo advocate the principle of bringing the outside in. Acknowledging the American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright for his organic approach to designing structures in harmony with humanity and its environment; “...Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
Managing to dilute the stigma around modernist and brutalist architecture in Britain; a movement that thrived in post-war and embraced concrete for its affordability and functionality, The Modern House is recognised for shifting the consciousness of unique design styles given their capacity to turn an unfashionable aesthetic into a fashionable commodity. A broad church for varying architectural and interior styles that are all united by good design principles and an aesthetic sensibility, The Modern House provides both practical tips that are geared toward emotional and personal considerations through their agency and lifestyle brand.
Packed with histories and artful photography, their website attracts 15m page views and 1.25m unique visitors a year. Similarly, their instagram boasts a following of 150,000 (higher than any other estate agent in the UK). The Modern House’s distinctive and refined aesthetic paired with their sophisticated approach to storytelling offers a unique and immersive experience; adding to its charm and authenticity. Each process to buying a home has been curated in a style distinctive of The Modern House, highlighting its attention to detail. The Moving in Box, an alternative to the traditional welcome gifts given to new homeowners, is exemplary of this. Overseen by Faye Toogood, the multi disciplinary British designer, the box includes six minimal objects: an apron, a cup, a bowl, a keyring, a candle and a set of correspondence cards all created by UK-based designers. Toogood, who is also wife to The Modern House co-founder Matt Gibberd, wanted to work with individual artisans, ideally those who are part of their community, to create the box. From this, the ‘Outside the Box Series’ has developed as part of The Modern House Journal; talking to the designers, artisans and craftspeople involved, meeting them in their studios and exploring their creative processes.
According to Gibberd and Hill, founders of The Modern House, we should draw inspiration from the likes of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio when looking for the best modern home; “consult the wisdom of the ancients... Vitruvius, a Roman architect, wrote 10 books on architecture, in which he proposed a tried of virtues: Firmitas, Utilitas and Venustas or Durability, Usefulness, Beauty…” We should also make sure to have a good lawyer and avoid observing the house as purely an object but more as a “continuously evolving experience...”
With a reputation of being one of the most stressful situations we go through in our adult lives - the financial burden, the uncertain property climate and the ongoing austerity crisis (thanks Brexit) - moving house is more often than not, considered an overwhelming and laborious process. One that is associated with being crammed into a branded mini cooper, driven from house to house with the estate agent telling you “this one is the one” (even though they promised the same with the last). Thankfully, The Modern House offer an alternative. From personal factors such as wellbeing to more macro themes including community, place-making and architectural preservation, they are rewriting the rulebook for estate agencies.
By Lara Monro for Semaine.