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Nicola Cox
Tete a Tat With Nicola Cox

1st December

Tete a Tat With Nicola Cox

Polypore Chandelier, Cox London
Polypore Chandelier Featured In House & Garden Styled by Ruth Sleightholme , Shot by Annabel Elston

In my previous life, I was a stylist. My USP was being 'the lazy stylist'. If a job was easy, not too anxious making, I was your girl. Think bedding, tableware, bits and bobs; things that, if damaged, would be easily replaced and the issue resolved. Thankfully for House & Garden, I was in the minority. Ruth Sleightholme, senior to me on the styling team, was cut from a different cloth. This was made very clear when she suggested doing a chandelier shoot. I thought to myself; “what's wrong with cruet sets?”. But Ruth was adamant she wanted chandeliers. The day came and we were dealing with serious pieces, none more so than a Cox London chandelier. It was made up of hand-forged iron with Venetian glass. It was impressive. I mean, jaw-dropping. Getting it out of its crate was an operation, let alone hanging it. The shot was taken, and I couldn't believe what beauty had come out of this tense environment - it showed me what magic a good stylist and a beautiful object could conjure up.

No stranger to this concept is Nicola Cox, one-half of Cox London and this week's Tete a Tat. Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Nicola came to Europe in the 90s, taking up work in the music industry. The constant tours satisfied her yearning for travel, but after a few years on the road, she decided to return to formal education and enrolled at the Wimbledon School Of Art. Here she met Chris, her future husband and other half of Cox London. While other art colleges were entering a more conceptual era, Wimbledon School of Art offered a more hands-on approach. It provided an environment where ‘making’ was still at the heart of its education. Thank goodness for that, as Nicola and Chris experimented with many practices that inform much of their work today. And in that period they have indeed come a long way, both metaphorically and physically; in a piece in House & Garden they tell how their original workshop in Nicola's garage had to be abandoned after 'startled neighbours called the fire brigade after spotting plumes of smoke billowing from the in-house furnace… new premises were swiftly found.'

Since then they have created a world that seems reminiscent of the arts and crafts movement. Their workshop in North London houses an array of different masters of craft, each fulfilling their piece of the Cox puzzle. Whether it is casting in bronze, forging iron, or sculpting, each piece is either made or finished on-site. If you are lucky enough to order one of these magical pieces, you are able (by appointment) to pop in and see these masters at work.

The pieces at Cox London, however often you see them, always seem to leave you awestruck. Their showroom on the Pimlico Road is a glorious vessel for their work. It truly helps you understand their ethos, the materials, the time dedicated and the passion for what they do. I was delighted that Nicola was willing to participate in Tete a Tat; it is an honour to have her.

Cox London, 46 Pimlico Rd, London SW1W 8LP


Favourite Smell?

The New Zealand bush has such a unique smell that connects me to my native roots with a very deep sense of belonging. The forest is full of spirits, whisps of cloud and a sense of timelessness that you inhale while walking, feet sinking deep into vegetation, layers of fallen Punga trees, ferns, Manuka branches and the smooth leathery leaves of the Kauri. As I walk the mingling scents of minerals and greenery surrounds me in quiet contemplation of mother nature, Papatūānuku.

Best Day?

Was the day my daughter was born, it had been a long journey to get there, we had several miscarriages befall us, so when she finally came, I felt the most incredible sense of calm, deep love and gratitude.

Favourite Colour?

Colour is all about context for me, so very much depends on where I am and what I am doing. When choosing a colour I often bend towards a muted, dusty and earthy palette, anything that brings me closer to the nature within.

Best piece of advice, who gave it to you?

“Do one thing every day that scares you” I think it was my best friend from school who first said that to me. She lives on the other side of the world now (or at least I do), but we still share this mischievous challenge with each other. What I draw from it is to have courage and conviction despite the creeping sense of self-doubt that threatens to unnerve me from time to time. It spurs me on and turns fears into possibilities.

The Orient Express, Courtesy Of The Belmond
The Orient Express, Courtesy Of The Belmond

What form of public transportation do you prefer?

I think the rhythmic movement of an old train is the most reassuring way to travel and often listen to short stories at night about famous train journeys. As a girl, I was a massive Agatha Christie fan and have a trip on the Orient Express on my bucket list. I hope it will still have all the trappings of 1930s glamour when I finally get to go.

Two pet peeves?

I am really not a fan of loud people, although I do enjoy a good night out and can party with the best of them but people who “over express themselves” shall we say, will find me backing away to find the more chilled out crowd. I guess another of my pet peeves is litter which demonstrates such a lack of respect for our beautiful world.

What would you do all day if money was no object?

I would swan around my studio experimenting with some new (to me) process or method, essentially making a mess and hoping something interesting might come out of it in a childlike fashion, totally liberated.

Are you a morning or a night person?

Dawn has to be the most beautiful time of the day, full of promise. I love having an east-facing bedroom and waking early to watch the sunrise. Feels like time is on your side.

What is your favourite holiday?

Not one for lying around in the heat for too long, I find the best trips are those that provide a mix of nature and culture where you can sink your mind into something soulful.

Creech Arch Eye Catcher in the Isle of Purbeck
Creech Arch Eye Catcher in the Isle of Purbeck

Top Destination in the UK?

A place where we have often returned to is the Isle of Purbeck on the Dorset Jurassic coastline. We have one or two favourite spots there, such as Dancing Ledge which is wild and treacherous, and we are always discovering new walks in the area which can end with a swim in the crashing sea – if you’re feeling brave.

A song that can always make your foot tap?

Less of a foot tapper and more of a mind bend - the song that always takes me away to someplace else is Breathe (In the Air) Pink Floyd

“Long you live and high you fly

Smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry

And all you touch and all you see

Is all your life will ever be”

This track is a journey in itself.



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