“I feel that as both our lives are part of a creative industry, this should be expressed in our home,” explains illustrator, director and writer Danny Sangra of his East London home with partner Sarianne Plaisant, a set designer and prop stylist. The couple purchased the turn-of-the-century property in 2018, and the four-bedroom terraced house proved to be the perfect canvas for the duo’s contemporary design, idiosyncratic printed matter and graphic murals. “Terraced houses are all fairly similar and uniformed; there’s only so many things you can adapt,” he says. “We knew if we had a good base, we could tweak the details and bring our own personality to it.”
“The first thing we did in the living room was add detail to the floor,” Sangra says of the platonic black forms dotting the wooden planks. “We wanted something simple that looked like it belonged to the rest of the house.” The crisp white walls provide a muted backdrop to a host of vibrant furnishings sourced from the couple’s favourite shops in the city, as well as gifts from friends and even some items swiped from the carpentry workshop of Plaisant’s father. “When we moved into this house we didn’t have any furniture, not even a bed,” he adds, “so we had the pleasure of investing in items we had always admired and knew would be with us forever.”
From Harold Pinter poems to hentai graphic novels, The Virgin Suicides to A Clockwork Orange, the pair’s expansive array of pulp material is proudly displayed on thin white ledges. “Our most important objects are our books,” Sangra says, “which have merged together from both our past lives so we have a mix of everything from architecture to comics. We tend to buy or gift each other books, whether it’s a small zine or a first edition.”
The residence is dotted with an array of custom graphics: striped archways, electric portals and a playful mural lining the kitchen composed of a number of Sangra’s black and white illustrations. “As a child I was allowed to paint on my bedroom walls, this was something my mum encouraged since I was eight or nine,” he says. “When we moved in, I was eager to paint every floor and wall in the house in someway.”
Dubbed the “universal room” by the homeowners, this reconfigured space now contains their wardrobe, with the addition of a plush daybed suited for moments of creative recharge. “When we moved in, the frame of these cupboards were already there, but they were really ugly,” Sangra recalls. “We knew they would be ideal storage so we just got new doors made.” Plywood turned out to be the solution: cost-effective and simple, retaining the subdued palette elsewhere.
“We’ve both designed spaces for other people so why not ours,” he explains of their playful take on domestic life. Even the narrow stairs are activated with puddles, paint drops, leaves and lavender pupils that cumulatively elevate the ascent to the upper floors. “We can continually change it if we get bored,” he jokes of these many bespoke interventions. “That’s the only problem, it’s easy to get bored of your own work.”
Near the end of 2019, Sangra and Plaisant put the finishing touches on their bright loft-level home office. “It’s where we spend most of our time, as we both work from home,” Sangra says of the set-up, which features Herman Miller’s Aeron chair. Further inspiration — such as a collection of figurines and a tome on the work of Charles and Ray Eames (a favourite of the pair) — remains close by. Recently, the space has taken on new importance for the couple in light of lockdown measures across the U.K. in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We travel a lot and are used to working from hotel rooms or friends’ spaces,” he says, “but the past few months have definitely changed our love of the house.”
In the couple’s bedroom, a wooden frame by British manufacturer Ercol is flanked by two black metal nightstands — one displaying the Monument table lamp by Louis Jobst (a local designer and friend). “Above our bed we have a hand-painted piece with personal references about our lives together,” Sangra notes of the wolf emblem appearing in a number of his works, including his current logo. “Close friends and people I’ve worked with for a long time have a small pin badge with the same design. I find it creates a sense of family.”
“Everything we have in our home means something or has a story,” Sangra concludes, “whether it’s a handprinted bottle with a message for a birthday or the three wolves that sat on our wedding cake.” Even the bathroom tile has a tale. Sourced from Mosaic Factory in London’s Shoreditch district, the graphic and oversized Moroccan terrazzo gives the studio’s facilities a whimsical edge. A plush chair by Hay and a wooden stool (another furnishing from Plaisant’s father) offer a moment of respite from ongoing work nearby.