Back To Origin: Local Icons – Chloe Alberry

Door handles should be the ‘Jewellery of the House’, according to Chloe Alberry, the Portobello-based maker whose unique creations are now available to buy on the Monsoon site.  

Tell us about what makes Portobello home to you? 

Portobello Road still has a unique, quirky, friendly feel to it. Visually it’s very beautiful with all the houses painted in different colours. It’s nice to be surrounded by other one-off, interesting shops like mine. 

What first inspired your love of fabulously crafted door knockers and interior design? 

I studied fine art painting, however soon learned it’s hard to make a living as an artist. So, I wanted to find a new outlet for my creativity. 

At the time I was living in a rented flat where I couldn’t paint the walls or stick nails in the walls, so I changed the handles on the doors and cupboards – as this was something I could easily put back afterwards.  

I was surprised how small and boring the selection of handles available at that time was. I guess this was the turning point for me on my creative journey into design. I started with a handful of cabinet and door handle ideas. Over the years this has evolved into my business.  

When did you first open your shop and what are you most proud of?  

I first opened the shop in 2003. I don’t get to paint much anymore, so my shop is like my canvas to decorate and adorn with my handles and beautiful interior-related antiques. The thing I am most proud of is the reaction from customers, when they first come into the shop. They are often so excited, describing it as an Aladdin‘s Cave – like a sweet shop for grown-ups!   

You describe door and cabinet fittings as ‘the jewellery of the house’. What is it about them that captures your imagination? 

People spend so much time and money on wallpaper, carpets and curtains. The door handles are something often overlooked. However, to me it is details such as handles which draw people’s attention and eye when they walk in a room. Be it an accent to a piece of furniture, or the handles on kitchen cabinets, they can completely transform a look.  

Thus, I wanted to encourage people to see door handles and cabinetry fittings not merely as functional, but as something aesthetic and pleasing to touch and look at. 

You also sell colourful antiques; where do you like to go to find new things for your shop? 

I like to explore flea markets and visit collectible fairs around the country – here I might find things like beautiful, glazed fireplace tiles from the 1890s, which I encourage my customers to use in bathroom or kitchen splash backs. I might find a lovely old Georgian door knocker or Victorian handle – these may inspire me to design some new items. I find some of the best designs come from past aesthetics.  

Which is your favourite design era?  

Without a doubt the period between 1890s and the 1930s. The 1890s arts and crafts movement were very much inspired by designs and patterns in nature, as am I. They stressed the importance of craftsmanship and the aesthetic of beauty in what they made.  

The Rise of Art Deco in the 1920s was just so much fun and very elegant. Two of my best-selling hooks called the Deco and the Opera hook, are directly inspired from that period. As is my black and white porcelain bone collection.  

What is next for Chloe Alberry? 

I’d like to take the concept of ‘Jewellery for the Home’ a step further, by incorporating even more precious stones, traditionally used for jewellery, into my handle designs. Stones such as turquoise, moonstone, lapis and opals. 

Discover our exclusive selection of Chloe’s door and cabinet handles, available on our website.