Just off a sleepy road in Clapton there stands a magnificent old three-story building. With faded grandeur and tiles that (for some reason) remind me of being on holiday in Lisbon. There's a glass façade in the hallway on each floor that allows you to peer into the frosted lives of others. From the outside it’s pretty unassuming but, once inside, every nook and cranny is full of character, and crammed with stories – if only the walls could speak. One sunny Monday, we spent the morning nosying around Carol's apartment. You could tell that every room had been beautifully curated organically over time. Each book or object would evoke a memory of some person or place, some feeling or some time - the reason behind its existence. A light and spacious haven, Carol's home exhibits the same effortless charm as she does. We chatted around her kitchen table, over an elderflower cordial drink, bought from her local farmer’s market in Stoke Newington.
Tell me a little more about and how The Plant Journal came about?
The first Plant Journal came out in 2011 but me and my partners had already been thinking about it for a while. I was living in Barcelona back then. The first thoughts were around a fanzine but soon, and after contacting some of the contributors, we realised that we already had content for a full magazine. There was no publication back then that spoke about nature and plants the way we imagined. We used to meet up for a beer and chat about the first issue – that was so much fun and we were so excited! Now we are about to launch the thirteenth.
As well as being co-creative director of The Plant magazine, what else does Carol Montpart Studio do?
Carol Montpart Studio is a multi-disciplinary creative practice that specialises in art direction, editorial design and branding. I like working across the fields of art, culture and fashion and the interplay between them. I try to always root my work to conceptual thinking to achieve a timeless outcome – a challenge! I like creating images and graphics that you can look at in a few year’s time and they still feel current. The magazine allows me to grow the network of creative people that I collaborate with. Working with people makes me happy.
From where do you draw inspiration?
Curiosity is key – I get my inspiration from everything and everyone. I always keep my eyes super open, which can be exhausting at times. It is difficult to watch a movie or look at a painting and not relate this to my work. My references often come from books, exhibitions and travelling. I do love getting lost in second-hand bookshops or visiting libraries. Meeting talented people through The Plant is also a big inspiration for me.
Do you have days where you won’t feel inspired, and if so, how do you overcome this?
Of course I do! It's important to acknowledge it and move on. Going for a walk or checking out a show helps.
Describe yourself in three words.
Passionate, perfectionist, friend of my friends.
What’s your biggest weakness?
What does a 'typical day’ for you look like?
I wake up in the morning and start with some meditation. A good breakfast and off on my bike to my studio near Broadway Market with probably a few meetings, computer work and emails, if I'm not on set. Cooking with my partner at night and recap on our days.
Do you have a ‘uniform’ for work? Perhaps your wardrobe is for both work and play and there is no separation?
I have a few garments that I love and use for everything. I usually wear a shirt and a blazer.
Is there an item in your wardrobe that you cannot live without?
Crisp white shirt.
When you’re not working, how do you like to relax?
This is something I am still working on – learning to relax. Walking, reading or going for a swim. A getaway from the London pace every now and then is much needed.
You live on such a lovely road in Hackney. What is your favourite thing about living where you do?
I have lived on Clapton Terrace for six years now. We moved from one house to the other three years ago but on the same street! I love the sense of community here and the mix of different cultures. Having the park, river and the marshes close by is priceless.
Your home feels like such a wonderful sanctuary. How do you like to spend your time there?
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it's my favourite space in the house. When I want to relax I go to the living room and lie down with a book and a glass.
What is your favourite dish to prepare for friends and family?
'Rape a la marinera', my mum's speciality. Monkfish with tomato sauce and white rice. Followed by baked plums with sage and ricotta.
What are your favourite places for…
Collection Yvon Lambert in Avignon – a hidden gem.
What are you currently…
Brian Eno, always coming back to him.
Crudo by Olivia Laing.
…most looking forward to?
My wedding next year.
Name three women who inspire you.
Rei Kawakubo, Fran Lebowitz, Isabelle Huppert.
Tell me your favourite plant and why.
Monstera. They are not pretty and suit any space.
What’s next for you, any exciting projects or collaborations?
A few good things coming up in Paris and the new issue of The Plant coming up in November.
Editorial by Chi San Wan
Photos by Jessica MacCormick