Words by Alyn Griffiths
Working out of their office in London’s Fitzrovia, Annick Benningen and Katie Lloyd follow a human-focused approach that ensures every project has a unique story to tell, creating interiors for private and commercial clients that are tailored to the specific needs of their users.
The duo founded their studio Benningen Lloyd in 2016, after working together at global architecture firm Woods Bagot. Benningen previously spent over a decade practising interior design across Europe and North America, while Lloyd brings her experience of ten years working in the fashion industry to the partnership.
“We were influenced by the Scandinavian approach to apartment living”
The studio’s output is diverse, ranging from refurbishing supermodel Claudia Schiffer’s Tudor mansion to creating apartments for modern developments such as Mill Harbour. The duo has also completed several workplace and hospitality projects, including styling the workspace of a coworking startup in Utah and designing public areas at a high-end London office building.
Every project begins with research into the history and character of a building or its surroundings, which informs the creation of a narrative that binds the different elements of the interior together. The designers are also known for using bold colours and patterns to create impact and enhance the personalised feel of the spaces they create.
For Mill Harbour, Benningen Lloyd formulated a story around the development’s core values of community, wellbeing and sustainability. Mill Harbour’s urban village concept, with shops, offices, leisure facilities and schools all incorporated into the masterplan, helps to ensure occupants immediately feel part of a community.
This makes it attractive to families, so Benningen Lloyd designed interiors that are versatile enough to meet the changing needs of users over time. “We were influenced by the Scandinavian approach to apartment living,” says Lloyd, “where everything is pared back but with a really homely feel and a focus on quality.”
Rather than reacting to throwaway trends or fashions, the carefully considered interiors are filled with timeless details and can adapt to changing needs.
This Scandinavian inspiration means that Mill Harbour apartments have a more cosy and casual azesthetic than many of Canary Wharf’s highly polished developments. Built-in elements that resemble free-standing furniture help to lend the living areas a relaxed feel, while kitchen units are raised off the floor rather than resting on a conventional plinth, making it easier to personalise the space.
The designers have also collaborated with small ateliers to develop unique objects that bring an element of craftsmanship into the spaces, including terrazzo dining tables from Granby Workshop and Treeslounge Bespoke. Oak flooring provides a tactile foundation for a restful material palette used throughout the apartments, including bathroom tiles in muted shades of blue or green. These colours directly reference the nearby River Thames and create a pleasing contrast with the sky and sage tones of the kitchen.
Mill Harbour’s waterfront location also influenced the approach in other ways too, with a focus on nature and wellbeing across the scheme. The sustainability aspect of the story is reflected in the choice of robust materials that will improve with age and should last a lifetime.
“The original driving force behind the concept is radical integrity,” concludes Benningen, “trying our best as designers to shape the design in a way that is both fresh and marketable, while being sustainable and material conscious.”