On the search for...

Kia Designs starting to be a Carbon Neutral Business

Here at Kia Designs we like to carbon offset our yearly contributions and invest in environmental projects in the UK. We try to keep as paperless an office as possible, and keep our printing output low.

Interior Design isn’t the cleanest industry, we use lots of cotton (particularly in carpets and curtains) which is one of the most damaging crops on the planet. Fire regulations mean we coat a lot of products is some serious chemicals. We fly all over the world to attend trade shows. Then there’s the footprint for shipping furniture around the world, which is always very convoluted. A cane chair might be constructed in a village in Vietnam. Then coated with a varnish that has been made in China, shipped to the US and then sent back to factories in Asia. The chair might then be sent on to a wholesaler in China, bought by an American firm and shipped to their warehouse in Texas where it will be bought by a retailer, who truck it to their company. From there they send it to one of their international stores, say London, where we purchase it and send it to Dubai for a client. It’s more well travelled than your average yuppie.

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How Does An Interior Design Project Begin?

We’re often asked how we start a design. It’s a hard thing to answer as it’s really an intangible concept. After we’ve decided on the new layout, we start by asking the client a lot of questions, and getting a firm idea of what they don’t like and what they gravitate towards, as well as practical concerns (hardwearing, easy cleaning etc). Then we do a blitz of the major London showrooms for inspiration. We collect a few (we really try to limit these, as sampling for it’s own sake is a waste of everyone’s time and resources) samples and make note of features or furniture that would work. At first everything looks amazing and it can be overwhelming.

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The Fool Proof Carpet

We’re often visited at our office by sales reps who have come to show us their new wares and demonstrate their products. It’s great to see what’s in the pipeline before it hits any showroom, and it’s always good to have a library of innovative products in mind when listening to clients concerns.

A recent visit that most impressed us was Sylka Carpets. They are a multi award-winning carpet manufacturer that produces manmade fibre replicas, very accurately. The result is a super high quality product at a reasonable price (ok, they are closer to the top end, but far more affordable than the real thing), which is far more durable and easy to maintain than their natural counterparts. And we struggled to tell the difference. Think silk, cashmere of wool carpets without the wear (the fibre structure is incredibly hard wearing and won’t breakdown), without the pilling (as they are spun from single threads you won’t get any fluff) and impervious to most stains (the fibres aren’t porous, so unless you coat it in a painting substance, it shouldn’t hold any staining). So we’re talking a thick, white carpet you can pour red wine all over and leave no trace. And even better, if you do stain or damage it (a client dropped her red nail polish) instead of having to replace the whole room, you can simply cut around the damage segment and patch in a new piece, which will blend in seamlessly. For this reason, the company suggests buying a few extra meters, as the dyeing of each roll can be slightly different and this will guarantee you an invisible finish.

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How To Get a Interior Design Intern Position

Every week we receive emails from prospective interior design interns. They are usually from students looking for experience in their holidays, or recent graduates looking for intern programs that will translate into permanent positions. Occasionally we get applicants who want to completely change career, or who have experience in a similar field and want to gain a brief insight into other aspects of design (for example, we get architects who want to see how we look at spaces in alternative ways).

We usually take on 2 interns at any one time. Our ideal placement is 6-12 months. Kia offers paid internships, unless a candidate’s visa forbids it. We can take on students over the summer, but the problem is you don’t really have time to learn much, as it will take you a month just to learn the ropes (and us a month to show you those ropes) and you won’t get to see a whole project. Our projects are usually minimum 3 months, with the majority of them being 6 months. An internship should work for both parties. You learn lots about running a business, designing for the practical world, dealing with clients and suppliers and seeing a project through from concept to completion. Kia is very thorough and you’ll spend lots of time learning how to do the accounts and operate a profitable business. You’ll also be given a lot of responsibility to design, source and style rooms, under Kia’s guidance.

interior design intern

Our offices at WeWork Spitalfields

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Ever Wanted A Secret Passageway?

‘A house with a secret passageway’ tops most people’s “lotto win dream house” list. They feature largely in the children’s literature and adventure films that dominate people’s formative years. Later in life you might really see the appeal of being able to sneak out a lover, bump someone on the head and make a swift exit, or you might want to be ready to conceal a priest at short notice…

A more 21st century friendly secret passage usually leads to a private bathroom, office or walk-in wardrobe. It’s more about uninterrupted clean lines and reflective spaces than secrecy. On the occasions we are commissioned to build a secret room, it’s more likely to be for shoes than a 50 Shades of Grey style chamber. Pity.

At Kia Designs, we’ve used hidden rooms in several builds as a means of problem solving. Older fire regulations usually stipulated that you need a door between each room and the main entrance, and before open plan living became popular, entrance halls were all the rage, even in the smallest flats. The combination of the two tended to result in a hall of doors, all identical and very confusing for guests. We also can’t tell you the number of flats we went into that would have a large storage cupboard in the hall, covered by a “room door’, designed to give the impression you have another bedroom. This style of layout is impractical and aesthetically unappealing. It’s also wasteful in small spaces.

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New Tile Trends 2016

It’s trade show time again. This week we’ve been looking at new trends in tiles and at the various wares on show at Surface Design. The big eIMG_3272merging trends are more geometric shapes, lots of hand-painted effect tiles and imprinted porcelain. Whilst we never really go in for “trends”, as nothing dates a property faster, we do like keeping up with the latest in manufacturing techniques. As the trend for strong geometric styling continues, advances in technology means the interlocking mechanisms have become simpler, and the tile panels larger, meaning they will be far more affordable to ship and install. Just as we saw with parquet flooring and engineered wood, chevron tiles in pre-made blocks are also becoming very popular. It’s an easy way to achieve a luxury finish, either as a wood effect throughout the house or a more visually arresting way to arrange marble in a bathroom.

Patterned tiles have become a little more adventurous, through the introduction of varied tones in sophisticated pastels that have a more subtle effect and appeal to those who would normally shy away from anything too loud or detailed.

What goes around comes around, and (you might shudder to hear it) 1970s led designs are still continuing. Crazy pavement is back, but it’s had quite the make over. Coloured grout is also growing in popularity. Grey, white and coffee coloured tiles are particularly lifted with orange or teal grouting.

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Stainless steal island unit

Pretty much every client that we have ever worked with has wanted an island unit in their kitchen.  The island unit holds a variety of benefits: obviously it provides one with extra preparation space whilst cooking, it also provides a more casual eating area and is more social (if your hob is on the island unit you can cook whilst facing your guests as opposed to having to stare at the wall!).  However, what if your kitchen is not large enough to house a fully blown island unit?  This stainless steal island unit may hold the answer:

Clearly, given the size and nature of the piece, this will not tick all of the boxes that a full sized island unit does.  Having said that, I find this to be a charming piece which not only provides extra storage and workspace but which also livens the room.  After all, an island is the ideal place to put a vase which will instantly lift a room or to keep one’s pretty looking jam jars.  Also, with this piece being stainless steal, it is very easy to clean and is, like a larger island unit, therefore a great place to prepare food.

 

Lighting for client in Mayfair

Recently we have been on the look out for a variety of lighting options for a client of ours in Mayfair.  The rooms within the house are extremely large and, as a result, it has been somewhat of a challenge for us to find lighting that fits the proportions of the room.  This piece will look particularly spectacular when one considers that it is a meter in diameter:

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On the search for Porta Romana lamps for a client

One of our newest clients is re-vamping their 6 floor home in Mayfair: we are having a number of older pieces of furniture re-upholstered and so we are in the process of finding furniture which will link the old with the new.  A number of Porta Romana lamps fulfill this specification admirably:

I find these lamps to have a timeless appeal which exudes class.  Another lamp that we were considering is a little more ‘out there’ but still has a real charm to it:

One of the things that I really like about Porta Romana is that they are not afraid to be aggressive in their designs – this includes their fearlessness with regard to colour:

We are still in the process of deciding which lamps we would like to use but the final result is destined to be nothing less than stunning!

 

Andrew Martin ‘Garcia Chair’

Quite often we design studies/offices for clients – within such areas they will sometimes hold meetings and will sometimes simply want to relax with a book.  In such instances we are always very careful with regard to the seating that we choose: often having a meeting whilst sitting adjacently with a client on a sofa is not hugely practical or comfortable. Therefore I am always keen to deploy amply sized chairs in such scenarios and Andrew Martin’s ‘Garcia Chair’ is one of my favourites:

Not only is this chair outstandingly comfortable but it also has a classiness to it that really befits an office/study.  The worn leather also gives a rustic slant but without compromising any type of professional working environment that one may be trying to capture.  A truly beautiful piece of furniture.

 

Credit: Andrew Martin

 

On the search for…wreckable rugs

Yes you did read the title of this post correctly! We are looking for wreckable rugs because we are currently designing a teenage girls bedroom who apparently has a unique talent for wrecking almost anything that is put in her room…so today we are looking for rugs that are cheap enough that her parents may not want to disown her when she spills a drink and pretty enough that she will want to keep it looking gorgeous!

First up the splat rug from Plantation Rugs, the name really does say it all ~ you never know we might get lucky and the stains just add to the pattern and if not at only £150 it’s a great steal!

Maybe something a little more girly might appeal, I really like this round dotty rug [from £75 from Plantation Rugs]

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Last but by no means least is this gorgeous nomadic rug, it might be a bit too busy for the rest of the house’s design but in a girls bedroom where the floor will most likely be “decorated” with clothes I think it could fit right in! [from £100 from Plantation Rugs]

I think that the round one ~yes Charlie for once I actually like the round rug! ~ might be the best one for the design and the colours are perfect – here’s hoping it will survive!

Beautiful ‘ikandi’ dining table

One of my favourite feature pieces to search for are dining tables.  With the diminishing size of many inner city properties the traditional ‘dining table’ is becoming an item that many households are starting to live without as many people instead use a more multipurpose table to dine at.  The social aspect of eating is undoubtedly floundering and this fact is not lost on many of our clients who specify that they certainly require a designated dining area.  In my opinion, a dining table should be able to accommodate 10 people (even if it is a bit of a squeeze!) so that it can host a medium sized dinner party.

In my search for a dining table recently I found this beauty:

This table has the added advantage of the fact that it can be used within a number of different schemes and the combination of beech wood and cherry wood makes for an eye-turning contrast.  Although I am not a fan of all of ‘ikandi’s’ dining tables there are a number of unique designs that they offer and it will, as a result, be a place that I look in the future whilst searching for dining tables!

To view Ikandi’s dining table collection please click here!

On the search for… amazing bar stools

Bar stools for a modern home can really add a wow point in an interior design, especially if they are in an open plan setting.  Recently we have been looking for some gorgeous modern bar stools for a project we are working on outside London.

From left to right: Tonic Home Rings Barstool, Calligaris Even Leather and Rofl Benz #625.  I love the ones on the right as I think they just instantly scream WOW!  The ones of the left are gorgeous classic Italian designs.

On the search for… great looking radiators

Most of the projects we take on tend to be full scale refurbishments, with this in mind we are often looking at a completely blank slate at the beginning of the project.  For me one of the most important parts to get right are the fixtures (get them wrong and they are a pain to fix later in the project).  Radiators are a fixture that can add a huge amount to the design of a project but are often very overlooked.  Here are a few of my favourite radiator picks.

I adore this radiator as it is a feature piece in its own right – now obviously you wouldn’t use it in every room

Arteplano from £1764 (Yes that gorgeous piece to the left of the console is actually a radiator!!)

Classic radiator from £343

Thermo glass radiator from £1407

A very eclectic selection of radiators!

On the search for…stunning modern chandeliers

As you may, or may not, know I have a bit of an obsession with lighting.  For me it is one of the most important parts of interior design as its presence can not only highlight some of the most beautiful parts of a design but can also add depth and texture.  Today we are in the search for some truly stunning central chandeliers for a very modern lounge interior.  As it is part of the main reception area it needs to be something commanding.  Here are a few of my favourite options!

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Droog 85 Chandelier – okay so it may kill you in bulb costs but it i most definitely worth it! £2,295

2097/50 pendant light Designed by Gino Sarfatti £1,720

Matt Gagnon – Ceramic Lamp from $4,140

Tigermoth Silver Chain Long Chandelier from £2,687.02

Zeppelin 1 suspension light Designed by Marcel Wanders £2,575