Zoe Chan, along with her husband Merlin is one half of Chan + Eayrs, a holistic architectural practice. The couple have moved into one project from the next but since having her children, Max and River, Zoe describes a longing for stillness and more settled roots.
Their latest find- previously home to the abstract English sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and his wife Sheila and converted by the Caros' friends and Brutalist architects Peter and Alison Smithson, certainly offers stillness, nestled in a bucolic pocket of Hampstead where the bumpy lane and dappled leafy light can trick you into thinking you've left London altogether.
The daughter of an architect, Zoe was taken straight from the hospital as a newborn baby to a potential site. Similarly, POPLIN visited the day before structural works began in Hampstead, as family life hummed alongside the nervy expectation of imminent and dramatic changes. Zoe's excitement about creating a beautiful physical space in which to raise her children balanced by her considered attitude to fortifying her family's emotional foundations.
With our children I lean towards more intimate and calm environments but ultimately family is the foundation of home before the physical space so it makes sense to work on it first.
I had a difficult and abusive childhood so having children and watching them constantly brings up difficult feelings and memories. I made a promise to myself and my future children that I would only start a family once I had dealt with my childhood trauma and healed so as not to pass on any unhealthy dynamics.Children: CLASSIC CHILDREN'S SEERSUCKER NIGHTSHIRT £48
Zoe : AGNES CHAMBRAY NIGHTSHIRT £125
I love that children find wonder in the smallest things and everything is new and exciting for them. To see the banal or familiar in a new exciting light is amazing.
Walking Max to Forest School through Hampstead Heath [known affectionately by locals simply as The Heath] everyday is one of my greatest pleasures. It's both familiar and ever-changing; rural and urban, light and dark, hot and cold, wet and dry. Max emerges out of it everyday connected and inspired and very muddyChildren: CLASSIC CHILDREN'S SEERSUCKER NIGHTSHIRT £48
Pre-Covid we had already made a commitment to travel abroad/fly less to reduce our carbon footprint and in that spirit we bought a wonderful house on the Helford River in Cornwall as our holiday bolthole. We ended up going there when River, our second child, was born and got stuck out there during "lockdown".
As we have started works in Hampstead we haven’t returned all summer and I can’t wait to head back. With two little ones we aren’t longing to travel very far, the combination of jet lag, Covid and the impact on the environment means that instead we are enjoying more stillness and staying closer to home.Children: CLASSIC CHILDREN'S SEERSUCKER NIGHTSHIRT £48
The balance between working and mothering is very organic for me- I just steal moments here and there and try to not create too much stress or pressure. If I plan too much or create too many deadlines it takes the joy out of things and stifles my creativity and freedom.Children: CLASSIC CHILDREN'S SEERSUCKER NIGHTSHIRT £48
Zoe : SHEHERAZADE SILK PYJAMAS £249
It was quite wonderful having River during the pandemic as we had been in a little cocoon bubble for the first six weeks of his life anyway and so I just felt that bubble was extended and we had some beautiful time as a family. It was challenging at times with the lack of sleep but it’s funny how quickly those tougher moments have faded and only the memories of the lovely bits remain.Children: CLASSIC CHILDREN'S SEERSUCKER NIGHTSHIRT £48
Zoe : AGNES CHAMBRAY NIGHTSHIRT £125