A Minute With: John Hitchcox on what makes a happy home

The co-founder of the property company Yoo has collaborated with Philippe Starck and says that open-plan living is perfect for his family.

The Youpune development in Pune, India, was designed by Philippe Starck. Hitchcox lists Starck as one of the people who inspire him. Photo by Francis Amiand
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I have lived

in Notting Hill in London for the past 15 years. I love it because it's close to the centre of the city, which means I can ride my bicycle everywhere, yet has retained a village-like feel. I also have a second home a 90-minute drive away in The Lakes in the Cotswolds.

I'm a major

music buff, so when I discovered that Jimi Hendrix used to live in my house and it was an inspiration for his hit

Purple Haze

, it seemed a very good reason to buy it.

My grandfather

was a developer and my father an architect, so when I was a child we rarely lived in the same house for very long. It was move in, tear down, rebuild, sell and move on. So design and development is in my blood.

Travel and experiencing other cultures is also very important to me and I'm extremely fortunate that my business allows me to fulfil both.

My house

is definitely a family home. I don't really have any formal areas. What's the point of having space you rarely use? I have a swimming pool that converts into a dance floor, but my favourite room is my fully functioning music studio, complete with white padded soundproof walls


I think

open-plan living really helps to make a happy home. I love that my home can accommodate my whole family. We can all be in the same space together but doing our own thing. I really cherish these times, especially since my oldest children are growing up and spending less time hanging out with me.

The essential item

in any home of mine would be a big kitchen table, so I can entertain family and friends. I'd also need space for my precious guitar collection.

My personal and business life are intrinsically interconnected and I wouldn't have it any other way. I often have meetings in my living room. I accomplish more when I work this way.

This year has been

a very exciting one at Yoo because we've started to break into the Indian market. We launched two projects there earlier this year and are launching a third, with a fourth very much in the pipeline. It's such an energetic and colourful place to work.

I also recently invested in a project on the island of Boracay in the Philippines, which is not only celebrated for having the most beautiful beaches in the world, but also is home to my favourite hobby: kite surfing. Travel is such a major part of my life, both personally and for business, so I often collect art from places that I've had the pleasure to explore.

I consider myself

a design buff, but I'm also rock and roll.

My inspiration

comes from my family and the talented people I work with every day. I couldn't do it without them. I can't even begin to explain the respect that I have for my business partner and friend Philippe Starck; he is an absolute genius. Marcel Wanders, Kelly Hoppen and Jade Jagger are also extremely talented and add so much diversity to Yoo's portfolio.

If I could live

anywhere in the world, I would be perched on a beach in Boracay playing my guitar and singing with family and friends - and kite surfing all day.