Lee Broom is relaxing at his New York penthouse when we talk. Summer is a more therapeutic and creative time for him before the madness of fall—a busy season in design full of new exhibits, shows, and product launches. The British designer known for his luxury furniture and lighting splits his time between Manhattan and London, but having just gotten this place in February 2020, right before the pandemic, he feels like he’s only just settling in.
When the lease on Lee’s Soho showroom ended he wanted a larger place where he could actually live—an apartment where he could house his furniture and also stay when he was in town. “It’s kind of a working space, but it’s also very much a home. We have a lot of our clients, dealers, and colleagues come in, visit the space, view the pieces, see some of the new collections, and they’re able to see it not just within a residential environment, but how I see the piece used in a residential space.”
The space is in complete contrast to how Lee presents his work in his shows, which are very theatrical. “A lot of people visit to see the products, and then we do a lot of dinners—not just for colleagues but also for friends as well as entertaining. For me a home—whether I’m in London or in New York—has to be really geared up for friends and people to come around and experience the space and enjoy it. Give them good drinks, good food, good music.”
Lee’s career began in the world of fashion—he worked for Vivienne Westwood—before evolving to furniture, lighting, and product design. He redesigned the new Rémy Martin decanter and wants to work on a film. This fall Fashioning Design: Lee Broom (Rizzoli) hits shelves. The book looks back over 15 years of Lee Broom design with behind the scene insights and moments dating from when Lee started out to today. “It’s a play on words, and it’s the idea of my background and fashion and the influences on my work, but also taking something you’ve seen before and presenting it in a different way—fashioning something out of something else,” Lee says.
Lee does a lot of designing from his New York study—one of the smaller rooms in the apartment and home to beloved items like a vintage TV, some of his favorite art books, and a painting of an African woman on a blue background by his friend and artist Shirley Amartey—a British Ghanaian artist and fashion stylist from London who paints self-portraits. Lee designed the studio to reflect his London space. “I figured that if I was to design successfully in a completely different city to where I’m used to designing, I should try and reenact the space. I have almost exactly the same desk, the same walls, and similar lighting. I took things from my studio in London, lots of personal items and artwork I collected from my studio, and put it into this space so I was surrounded by familiar objects.”