On first meeting, in her enviably sleek and stylish London home, you might well pigeonhole the willowy and effortlessly beautiful Chloe Macintosh as a lady of leisure and lunches - albeit a mother of two young boys. But within seconds you realise the passion and dedication behind her work as creative director at, the website that she co-founded in 2010, which sells designer furniture direct from the manufacturer at amazingly affordable prices.
Design is in Chloe's blood: growing up in Paris, she spent her childhood trawling flea markets across France for pottery and antiques for her mother's shop. Later she studied architecture in Paris before doing an internship at Foster + Partners in London, staying on and finishing her degree at the same time. She left seven years later, having been made a partner, to join Brent Hoberman at Mydeco. Three years later she found herself needing to be more actively creative again-hence Made. com, co-founded with Ning Li and Julien Callede and also backed by Brent.
'Designing furniture is not so different from architecture,' she says, 'but it is less stifling, as mistakes can be made and corrected and a product can take four months, rather than four years, to realise.' But it is not only being creative that drives Chloe; she speaks single­ mindedly about making a commercial success, finding and developing best-sellers, using the funds these generate to support and work with young designers, identifying the buyer - who they are, what they want - and making sure's products continue to be top-notch in quality. Most of the upholstery is made by UK craftsmen; and there is also a 25-strong Shanghai office, which Chloe visits every six weeks, making sure Chinese production runs smoothly.
'It is very hard for us to show that we buy things at the same price as other high-street retailers; we just sell them in a different way,' she explains. For a start, the company makes only what is ordered. In terms of style and types of furniture, is a carefully curated, refreshingly varied mix. There are Fifties-style sofas, cute but­ toned chairs, industrial-looking coffee tables and French-style bergeres, to name just a few. 'I really want it to be a brand that gives people enough confidence to create their own look,' says Chloe.
Her own home reflects a very similar ethos. Yes, there are some pieces and things Chloe has bought specifically for particular places, but much of it is a collection of furniture and objects she and her husband have amassed along the way -and there are still gaps, waiting for the right piece to come along. It was originally two houses that had been knocked, unimaginatively, into one. When Chloe first saw it they were not even looking for a house and it was out of their price range. A year later they bought it - the fact that it had a self-contained flat that could be let, and later perhaps become a flat for the two boys, helped their decision.
When the time and finances came to rethink the spaces, Chloe felt she knew what she wanted and hired an extension company, 'but they just didn't get it.' Her Fosters training demanded a more considered architectural approach. She ended up working with Bureau de Change Design Office, a practice set up by two ex-colleagues from Fosters. It was to be their first residential project, but despite their inexperience Chloe immediately felt they were right for the job as they would have the same design language. They have since also designed the show­room. Before going to tender, they drew up a 250-page specification document - 'My one word of advice is to specify to the bone,' says Chloe. 'The Fosters approach is that if it's not on paper it could be a problem.' As a result, this project 'was very smooth and unbelievably cost-efficient'.
For both Chloe and the architect, Billy Mavropoulos, it was vital that the house worked as a whole. Downstairs the main focus was 'to get the biggest party place'. The front of the house retained its original layout and features while the back was completely opened up to become the main living space, which is white, airy and minimal. To achieve this, Billy explains, they created a 'glass box', into which they 'slotted' the new space. Glass sliding doors, 3.2 metres in height, form the entire back wall, their tops disappearing beyond the ceiling so that, from the inside, the frames are invisible. 'We wanted it to be thin and fragile-looking,' says Billy. Everything is aligned and thought through - for example, the skylights over the sitting and dining areas continue the lines of the side windows in the floor above.
The kitchen comprises two islands, or bars. It was made on site in stainless steel, and Chloe insists it was very cost-effective. A fridge and storage space are concealed in cupboards behind the routed oak panelling that wraps the 'core' of the house. This core, which links the more traditional rooms - an entrance area on one side and a play­ room on the other - with the vast open-plan living area, is a crucial part of the concept. Not only does the oak, with its warm tones, link old and new, but it 'unwraps' to form the staircase and, on the other side, through sliding doors, to create a loo.
Upstairs the feel is, again, more traditional, but bathrooms were opened up into bedrooms to enhance the sense of space and the staircase walls were painted grey to define 'circulation', with a black handrail to echo the exterior colours of the house. Everywhere you feel the dichotomy of Chloe's tastes: flea market eclecticism versus clean, strict lines. It is a dramatic house, yet one that feels welcoming and liveable. There is nothing too self-conscious. Shelving by the staircase houses photographs and mementos; Chloe propped them there as she unpacked and they have remained, looking great and, above all, personal.

Team Credits

Chloe Macintosh

  • Message
  • Co-founder & Creative Advisor

Project Tags

  • journalism
  • Digital media
  • Interior Design