English-born Luke is the definition of creative, a working artist, designer, and columnist, known for stylish living with a philosophy shaped by his love of storytelling and fantasy. His colorful work is often inspired by history, filtered through a lens of irreverent romanticism. He now has his new brand Chateau Orlando for the person and home weaving together an eclectic mix of influences: ancient and contemporary art, old houses and gardens, vintage clothing,1980s pop music, folklore and mythology, flowers, books, and travel. Much of what Luke attempts to evoke in his work is a sense of time and place, one that relates to his experiences but takes on an otherworldly aura in memory; Chateau Orlando is a new and exciting expansion of his universe.

Your background is initially in interior design and as an artist. Having collaborated with hotels, and brands such as Ginori 1735, Burberry, or Diptyque, among others, will you continue this trend? What is the strategy behind this and what do these alliances bring to the table? And since you work with porcelain, we can literally mean table!
I’ve loved collaborating with brands over the past few years. I try to only work with companies that have a story to tell, companies with a history, or if not a history, a brilliant vision, because I need my projects to feel like they have a soul. I enjoy collaborating for many reasons. I hope that I bring something valuable to the table – perhaps it’s my sense of color and my drawings – and a company such as Ginori can bring something else – their incredible craftsmanship for example. We all learn new things and the result is a collection that we’ve poured lots of love into. I don’t have a strategy at all – if a company approaches and it feels like a natural, exciting fit, I’m intrigued. I follow my heart perhaps more than my head!

Do you have a favorite project to date?
So hard to choose… I enjoy working on a mix of projects – my drawing and painting, interior design, Chateau Orlando… Bringing Chateau Orlando to life over the past year has been a magical, fulfilling journey. I also love working with my gallery, The Breeder in Athens, on exhibitions. Drawing is at the heart of all of my projects.

There is something romantic found in your work and hints of fantasy. What shaped that?
I’ve always been drawn to the otherworldly, color, romance… I wonder if growing up in a 1960s suburban town instilled in me a desire for the opposite experience. I craved history and atmosphere and magic! I loved my childhood – my family was very supportive and I had a great, extremely creative group of friends – but by the time I was eighteen, I was certainly ready for something new. It’s that classic small-town boy thing, and I do think that if you’ve had to seek out the city, romance, art, and excitement, you’ll kind of keep on striving and these themes will remain important to you.

What were you like as a kid?
I was always making things, always drawing. Expressing myself via drawing, photography, and design – it’s how I’ve operated since I was young. I was a quiet kid, very shy. (I still am!) I felt much happier and more confident about making things and putting them out into the world compared with, say, walking into a room and chatting with a group of strangers. When I was about sixteen or seventeen I started producing a fanzine – my friends contributed to it with stories and drawings, and my Dad photocopied it for me at his workplace. I gave it out at college and when I moved to London I started selling it in a couple of shops. I suppose it always felt natural to me to be working on lots of different projects at once.

How do you feel your work has evolved in the past few years? Was it more about refining your vision? Going deeper into storytelling?
I think there are certain pillars that hold up my aesthetic world. My love of color, my interest in mythology, a sense of romance and optimism… Plus, there are motifs that pop up again and again. I’ve taken lots of inspiration from Ancient Greece and Rome in the past, for example. However, my world is an eclectic one, and I don’t like being pigeonholed. Chateau Orlando allows me to explore my interests fully. There will be elements or threads that appear in my projects often, but with Chateau Orlando I really want each collection to have a distinct narrative and set of inspirations. We made a summer capsule collection last year that was all about an imagined holiday in Italy or France circa 1984, whereas autumn/winter 2023 will be all about Cornish folklore. I’m definitely going deeper into storytelling.

You have got quite a specific aesthetic. What else influences you?
I often look to artists and designers that I admire from the past – artists such as Christopher Wood, Duncan Grant, and the Bloomsbury Group, and interior designers including David Hicks, and Dorothy Draper… I particularly enjoy looking at artists and designers that worked on a broad range of projects, like Cecil Beaton. But really I take inspiration from a mix of sources: travel, folklore, music, film, furniture, and books. There are many writers that influence me, also… Denton Welch is a favorite.

Are you someone that takes risks?
I think so!

What made you decide to explore fashion?
I’ve worked on quite a few collaborations, including a couple for fashion brands, as well as interiors brands including Ginori 1735, Svenskt Tenn, and Rubelli. We manage, my business partners, got in touch a while back with the idea of starting a brand together. The team is based in Milan, and we’d actually already worked together on a clothing project for Le Sirenuse, the hotel in Positano. It felt like a wonderful opportunity because I would have support with the business side of things and the manufacturing processes, but also complete creative control. I loved the idea of having a new avenue available, an avenue to funnel lots of my creative ideas into, an avenue that wouldn’t have been possible to open by myself.

You founded your lifestyle and fashion house one year ago. How would you describe Chateau Orlando and who wears it?
We’re all about squeezing the maximum juice out of life. I would say that the brand is certainly an extension of my own personal design style, the style I’ve been building up since I started my studio back in 2015. There’s a sense of otherworldly romance, a playfulness. I’m often inspired by the past, but I want to make things that feel modern, bold, and full of character. I also like the idea of making things that can be mixed easily with pieces that one might already own – thinking about vintage and antique clothes and homeware.

I get very excited about clashing inspirations together with the hope of creating things that feel unique and kind of unusual. An idea might be sparked in my head as I’m studying the architecture of an old English castle, whilst listening to futuristic pop music through my headphones – juxtapositions such as these can create really exciting tension that I want to feed into Chateau Orlando.

And what’s behind the name?
I spent months pondering the name of the brand: it needed to encapsulate my ideas and thoughts and it felt like an enormous decision. These days I come across many brands with seemingly forgettable names; I wanted to come up with something that would pique my curiosity. I liked the idea of an imaginary place, but one that shapes shifts, moves around and travels in time. Chateau Orlando could be a crumbling old hotel on the French Riviera, but it could also be a nightclub in West Hollywood. It’s up to the customer as much as me. Plus, Virginia Wolf’s Orlando is a favorite book. It’s a fantastical, flamboyant novel about shapeshifting and gender fluidity set against a backdrop of various historical periods – these are key themes that I am really excited about exploring with the brand.

Can you walk us through your SS23 collection?
I found inspiration for our spring/summer 2023 collection in the British painter Patrick Procktor’s hazy watercolors, blossoming English gardens in spring, and 18th-century drawings of fountains and architecture. This season’s motifs, which we find splashed across clothing and pieces for the home, include hand-drawn narcissi inspired by the ones I grow in my garden, parasol stripes, sketches of urns and fountains, and scattered flowers. Our color palette is a tender, earthy one: peaches, apricots, and tangerines sit alongside soft greens and dusty off-whites.

What would you say are your most iconic pieces?
The vests are key. I reckon all of our collections will include at least a few vests. They’re my favorite because they can be layered easily, but somehow they feel more playful than a regular jumper.

If we were at your atelier during the creative process, what would be on your playlist?
It might depend on the time of year or day, or the kind of collection I’m working on. But generally, I love a mix: I enjoy Medieval and Renaissance music, I like futuristic pop, I like Celtic music, electronic music, I like sad music that you can dance to… A typical playlist might feature classical choral music, Enya, Caroline Polachek, Molly Nilsson, and some dungeon synth… I need music that can transport me and put me into a kind of trance – this is super helpful during the creative process…

Do you split your time between London and Paris? What do you see in the two cities that might be overlooked by the average eye? And by average, I also mean that a busy or exhausted city, dweller might spend more time looking at a screen than around.
I live mostly in the country of England, on the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire border, but I tend to spend a few days in London every week or two. We’re lucky in London to have wonderful parks and gardens, certainly compared to Paris, and I think it’s easy to forget about these sometimes. When I’m in London I make a real effort to seek out green spaces.

Where do you see yourself in a few years’ time?
I’m excited about how we can develop Chateau Orlando, particularly on the homeware side. I very much like the idea of a shop or two, and there are people that I would love to collaborate with… There is much that I’d like to explore with my own practice, too – painting, ceramics, interior design, and even writing… There are always many ideas swirling around my head… Primarily I see myself, though, still happily living in the country, with my husband and dogs and flowers.

Photo Credits: Chateau Orlando SS23 shot by Jack Grange