Nestled in the vibrant heart of East London lies a detached Victorian house that doubles as a testament to creativity and excellence in design. Perry Rise, the residence of Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, collectively known as 2 Lovely Gays, is more than just a living space—it’s a living showcase of their distinctive aesthetic and profound passion for interior design. Recently, we journeyed out to Forest Hill to meet Jordan and Russell, as well as their 14-year-old Dachshund, Buckley, who seemed very perturbed by our presence. “I only realise how weirdly idiosyncratic he is when we’re around other people. We’re so used to living and working with him” Russel noted, “we’re fully codependent”. Stepping into their home feels like entering a gallery, where every corner, every piece of furniture, and every decorative element tells a story of thoughtful curation and meticulous attention to detail.

Formed in 2014, 2 Lovely Gays (or 2LG) quickly established themselves as trailblazers in the design world. Their fresh approach to interior design, characterized by bold colour palettes and innovative concepts, rapidly gained attention. The couple became household names through their work on popular TV shows such as Changing Rooms and Great Interior Design Challenge. Their achievements include launching successful product lines, collaborating with major brands, earning accolades, and the release of a book, 2020’s Making Living Lovely: Free Your Home with Creative Design. We were thrilled to meet them and have the opportunity to delve into their journey, creative processes, and future aspirations, and even more thrilled to be able to look around their incredible home, a place we’ve long admired.



Reflecting on their unconventional path into the industry, Jordan shared, "We trained as actors and did that professionally for 10 years."  Jordan found himself doing “loads of TV commercials” and Russel worked in musical theatre, doing “8 shows a week on the West End”. Eventually the duo, seeking further creative fulfilment, decided to pivot towards design.  "We started working on screenprints and selling textiles, like a sideline – a fun thing that we could do together," Russell explained, detailing their transition into design. "It slowly started to build, and about 4 years in we came to this crux point – we realised we could say goodbye to our agents and work at this full-time, so that’s what we did."  Their transition from the stage to the studio marked a pivotal moment in their lives, culminating in their venture into interior design. "It was so nice really working together having been so separate beforehand."  

Over the last decade, the pair have settled on a distinct, immediately recognizable style. The term "joyful minimalism" resonated with them early on, capturing the essence of their work. "We’re all about being positive and creating spaces that make people feel a certain way—emotion is tied into our work," Russel explain. Their design ethos combines a minimalist's clarity and restraint with a maximalist's passion and exuberance, a balance Jordan describes as "a minimalist mind and a maximalist heart." Russell adds, "Us having our cake and eating it too!" This playful attitude reflects their ability to blend simplicity with bold, emotional statements. Their partnership thrives on a blend of Jordan's visual instincts and Russell's narrative-driven approach. "I’m like ‘It's blue’ and he’s like ‘but why is it blue?’". "We have very different processes," Russell agreed. "Russell communicates with words, I communicate visually – it can be very frustrating to one another. But I think we've honed it over the last 10 years." 

Perry Rise, meticulously renovated over time, serves not only as a personal sanctuary but as a muse, inspiring new directions in product and print design. “I think the first five years of our business was clients' homes and residential, but this house kind of took us in a new direction of product and print design," Russell explains. This evolution has allowed them to explore new creative avenues and push the boundaries of their design practice. The collaborations that have emerged from this process have been mutually beneficial. "It’s allowed us to grow, and I think it’s also grown other businesses—that might sound arrogant, I don’t mean it to, but I think we’ve grown together with our collaborators," Jordan reflects. These partnerships, such as their work with John Lewis of Hungerford on innovative kitchen designs, exemplify the symbiotic relationships they have cultivated. "We wouldn’t have thought about designing a kitchen, and John Lewis of Hungerford wouldn’t have thought about designing something like this, with arches or curves. The house has given us an opportunity to play with things like that." 



The pair draw significant inspiration from the arts, spending most of their time away from work visiting exhibitions and attending shows. Russel notes that the films of Luca Guadagnino, most notably 2010’s I Am Love and its evocative portrayal of the Villa Necchi in Milan, have deeply influenced their aesthetic sensibilities. "We love Luca Guadagnino’s work, it’s always so visually amazing. 'I Am Love' has been a very important film to us throughout our career, the house featured, The Villa Necchi in Milan, is absolute heaven." Jordan concurs, adding, "It’s got Tilda Swinton in it, and she leant Italian for the film." Beyond cinema, Jordan and Russell immerse themselves in the contemporary art scene, celebrating the work of emerging artists such as Mac Collins, Helen Kirkham and Divine Southgate-Smith. 

Both designers exude a distinct sense of style that seamlessly intertwines with their approach to design. Upstairs in their home, they've curated a dressing room that serves as both a personal sanctuary and a tribute to their eclectic clothing collection. Jordan, a fashion obsessive, confesses to having "a real shopping problem," but over time, he has refined his choices to favour brands with interesting materiality and craftsmanship. Russell shares a similar sentiment, emphasizing comfort and versatility in his wardrobe choices. His preference leans towards structured pieces that make a clean, simple statement. The two are acutely aware of the extent that their personal style reflects their brand and professional identity. "What we’re wearing is like our storefront," Russell explains. Jordan echoes this sentiment, emphasizing that their personal presentation is integral to their professional persona: "With that, I think you want to look nice; I know it’s vanity, but maybe I am vain, but this is our brand, so how we present ourselves is key to that." Their commitment to blurring boundaries between their various creative endeavours—be it interior design, fashion, or even music—underscores their holistic approach to creativity. As they continue to evolve personally and professionally, their clothing choices not only reflect their individual tastes but also serve as a canvas for self-expression and a means to authentically connect with their audience. In essence, their style is not just about what they wear, but a deliberate statement that resonates with their broader artistic philosophy.

When we met, Jordan and Russell were at work on their latest project, Stay Playful (When No One Feels Like Playing), a large-scale exhibition for Clerkenwell Design Week. This striking installation featured an antique Helter-Skelter, repaired and painted in a vibrant shade of pink, accompanied by a soundscape and spoken word piece created by Whitehead in collaboration with composer Quentin Lachapele. Exhibited from the 21st to the 23rd of last month, this project exemplified the duo's knack for blending whimsical elements with profound artistic expression. When asked where this project ranks amongst their favourites, Jordan confessed with a smile - "My favourite project is always the one we’ve just finished, really. There’s something so fulfilling about seeing a project come to life after months or years of work." Russell, however, highlighted a particular project that holds a special place in his heart. "I would say You Can Sit with Us, which we did last year—that's my favourite project. I see it as us setting the tone for what the next ten years is going to be like." 



You Can Sit with Us, part of the London Design Festival, showcased their ability to blend artistic vision with community engagement. "We were given a space at the London Design Festival because we’d done some work with them in previous years—so we invited 13 emerging designers to have a seat at our table," Russell explained. The centrepiece of the exhibition was a recycled plastic dining table, created in collaboration with Smile Plastics, surrounded by chairs that each designer crafted to represent their personal style and craft. "One designer, Sam Klemick, worked in wood, while Benjamin Motoc used Perspex—each piece was very representative of the particular person and their craft." 

Jordan added, "We had people from all walks of life—a fashion designer, a trainer designer—all walks of life, and from all over the world. It was really us pulling all the strings of our bow together." The installation was not just about showcasing design; it was a heartfelt celebration of diversity and collaboration. "Russell wrote a piece of music that played throughout the space, and it was an opportunity to launch the new collection with L. Ercolani. It felt like friends old and new all around a central table—a real group show with such a wonderful feeling. The morning of the show, we shot it with our photographer Megan, who we work with quite a lot, and everyone was crying—it was just so nice to be able to offer an opportunity to all these people, something that we weren’t given or weren’t offered ourselves," Jordan shared. "Handing the ladder down rather than pulling it back up behind us—you know what I mean?" 

Reflecting on the significance of You Can Sit with Us, Russell recalled a touching piece written about the project. "Someone wrote, ‘2LG haven’t waited to get to the top before they’ve offered a hand back down,’ which was kind of the thing. We’re certainly not at the top of our tree, but what has mattered to us in our career has been those people that have reached out a hand and said, ‘come in.’" This ethos of inclusivity and kindness is a cornerstone of their philosophy. "When someone does reach out, it makes a difference," Jordan noted. "We always say that nice people want to work with other nice people. If you’re kind, thoughtful, and polite, and you keep going, you’re bound to do well." “There was a period in the middle of our career where we felt like we were on a bit of an island—like we were put on a pedestal by external forces, and then you become more inward looking, more isolated," Russell admitted. "So, it’s nice to now be at a stage where we’re allowing ourselves to reach out, be more community-oriented, more collaborative. It was an eye-opening experience, very rewarding. "It’s what we know, it’s what we learnt when we were acting—the idea of being part of a team, or a company," Jordan emphasised. "No one knows everything—so it’s nice to be open to everything." 



Looking ahead, they are gearing up for several events at the London Design Festival in September. "A lot of installations and happenings," Russell said, explaining that these events would be both a nod to their past achievements and an embrace of the collaborative spirit embodied by You Can Sit with Us.  "It's the 10-year anniversary of 2LG this year, so we're doing a few retrospective things, revisiting and reinventing old products," Russell shared, reflecting on their decade-long journey. One of these projects involved a rug they had created at the start of their career in collaboration with Floor Story. "He's also celebrating 10 years, so it’s nice that we're still part of each other’s stories, having started together," Jordan added. The variety of their projects keeps them engaged and inspired. "I like the variety as well; I get bored quite easily—so doing lots of different things keeps me active and engaged," Russell said. 

In spending time with Jordan and Russell, it's clear that their warmth and generosity are as boundless as their talent.  They graciously welcomed us into their world, embodying the open-hearted approach they extend to the design community and emerging talents. As they continue to push boundaries and explore new creative avenues, we eagerly anticipate what Jordan and Russell will do next. Their vision and dedication to fostering a collaborative and inclusive design community ensure that their future endeavours will be both groundbreaking and deeply impactful. We left feeling somewhat self-conscious about the state of the homes we were returning to, but primarily inspired and grateful for 2 Lovely Gays’ singular vision and positive influence in the design world. 

A massive thank you to Jordan and Russel for inviting us into their home. You can find out more about 2LG through their website and on Instagram, and their book, Making Living Lovely, is available via Thames & Hudson.

Photography by Charlie Gardiner

Gwilym Evans