What inspired you to become an interior designer?
I was always very aware of my environment and living in a very small family home, with loads of brothers, meant personal space was an important thing. I loved creating an environment I could escape to. This is still my ethos as an interior designer; creating spaces people can disappear into.
Who has been your greatest source of inspiration throughout your career?
How do you approach your projects?
With my fine art training, my approach is always based on the customer experience and how you can transform boring spaces into intriguing, mysterious environments. There are a lot of smoked mirrors involved in our designs!
Who is your favourite interior designer and why?
Me, because I am fabulous! It has to be Verner Panton for colour.
Would you say that you have a design style? If so, how would you describe this style?
No, I think we approach every project with an open mind and an eye for detail. However, if you were to describe our style in one word, it would be eclectic.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge for today’s interior designers?
The biggest challenge is to be exceptional and original in a very competitive world ‘where nothing is original’, as well as dealing with the pressure of getting old.
What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
I am always inspired by the job I am most involved in. If you would ask me today, it would be the completion of my house in Hastings. Because it has been a two-year battle with planning and building control, reaching a result I am very proud of.
What has been your most notable project?
There have been a few game-changing projects. The most notable projects we have completed are, Harvey Nichols’ fifth floor, Oxo Tower, Pigalle Piccadilly, Denim and Pop. And, most recently, the brand homes for Absolut LA and New York.
Can you talk us through your concept for Carrington House?
In the wake of Cliff Barns, then six years old, and its huge success, Carrington House came as a dynasty-inspired interior, whilst Cliff Barns is Dallas inspired. If I was to describe the design, I would say “big and bold with shoulder pads”. Because Carrington House is a big important Georgian house, I felt the architecture could take the bold use of colour, pattern and eccentric furnishings.
How do you personally feel that you fulfilled the brief for Carrington House?
Perfectly. As the client and designer, I am very pleased with myself! It has also been a huge commercial success. The proof of the pudding is in eating it.
Have you witnessed any recurring requests from your clients?
Yes, unfortunately. Factory lights, reclaimed wood and bulk heads. You know if something is over, when it’s replicated in Nick’s Bistro on Coronation Street.
Do you have a preferred colour palette that you enjoy working with?
No we don’t, but there are some very clear guidelines as to what colours to use or not to use, i.e. brown is depressing; yellow light makes you look like you are having liver cirrhosis and green light makes your girlfriend look like a witch. However, reds, pinks and mauves are flattering and inviting.
Can you please talk us through the brief that you received for ‘The House in Hastings?’
The house in Hastings is the third of my ‘home-tels’, so I own the business. However, as the house has such a commanding position in Hastings’ old town, you are very aware of the sea and changes in weather. Consequently, my colour palette was inspired by nature, using blues, greens, stones, pebbles, coral and rock.
The USP for our houses is that they are indulgent, luxurious and decadent. Much more than a home away from home.
How do you personally feel that you fulfilled this brief?
I think it’s my greatest work to date and having just launched it to the public, the response has been unconditionally positive. So yes, I think I have succeeded.
When it comes to restaurant design, what do you believe is of utmost importance when it comes to the interior design?
When designing any venue, it is important to understand the client’s ambition. Restaurants are primarily about the food. An environment you create has to complement that, as do the staff. There are certain tricks to enhance the experience; avoid funny lighting that makes the food look inedible.
What advice would you offer to those that are considering a career in interior design?
Be prepared for a roller-coaster ride of a career. You need to be creative, reactive, understand budgets and a highly social human to deal with the challenges of a job like this.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge for newly-qualified interior designers?
When I started this career, the term ‘interior design’ was applied to fluffy cushions and drapes. I think the biggest challenge today is to remain creative, as well as having to adhere and understand the strict regulations that apply to our industry. You have to have a technical mind to do this job.
Do you have any favourite suppliers for your interior schemes?
No. Suppliers change with every job. I have my regulars, who are reliable and I have worked with for over 20 years. They will, however, remain nameless.
What can we expect to see from you over the next year?
An exciting new music venue in Dublin, arts-inspired roof garden, outdoor cinema and ethereal space, high-end fashion-inspired two-storey bar in Mayfair and cool London-based workspaces. We will also continue to work with Absolut Vodka and a country punk Tudor mansion in Norfolk, to name but a few.