Kia is an award winning London Interior Designer based in East London. Her studio takes on projects from around the world. Our studio prides itself on being able to provide a hassle free Interior Design process that provides clients with a design that is perfectly tailored to their lifestyle
Interpreting the inspiration given to you by a client can be one of the more challenging areas of design. You have to be part mindreader, part psychologist and part lion tamer. But it’s also the really fun and rewarding part where you start pulling pieces together and it all starts to make sense, look beautiful and fall into place.
Recent clients of ours, owners of a 2 bedroom new build flat in Wimbledon, sent us the following images as inspiration and a guide to their style and product choices:
The brief was to make the flat feel more like home, make it an interesting space for guests and provide more storage (that old chestnut). Their flat had an overly generous hallway which was a terrible waste of space. Rather than placing a large bank of wardrobes along it, which would have more than solved any storage issues but been an eyesore, we decided to make it a welcoming entranceway with selected storage for key pieces.
Design Junction was a highlight this year among the myriad design shows, with its client-friendly innovative designs and wide range of products. Product design is rooted in a desire to help, simplify and improve one’s life, so it was fitting that show placed an emphases on humanitarian and eco enterprises.
Most notable was the delightful Casper Project (#whoscasper) run by Modus which produced a series of their Casper stool, designed by Michael Sodeau, which were decorated by famous and notable names in the industry. The caspers will be auctioned off anonymously, so you won’t know which artist decorated which one until after purchase. We’ve had great fun trying to guess in the office who designed what. We think we’ve identified a few (Tom Dixon, cough…)
As part of London Design Week Asif Khan created 3 beautifully serene pavilions filled with plants and vegetation in the heart of the busy city. As many of you know, living in the city isn’t always glamour and glitz, and sometimes can feel like the walls are shrinking in around you. With numerous new builds and high rises cropping up in every empty spot available, our surroundings are becoming evermore impersonal and unapproachable than ever before. That’s what Khan’s installations aim to irradiate. Based on the Japanese notion of shinri-yoku, meaning forest bathing, the enclosures create alternative spaces to the traditional public and private, and strive to form a place where people are free to come and relax and contemplate, but also can act as meeting points and social hubs as well as places to work.
Inside Create Pavilion
Each of the three spaces were filled with specifically selected plants, that the public were encouraged to take with them with them or exchange them with other plants that they had brought along with them.
Each of the three Pavilions had its oh unique identity honed functionality.
1. Relax. A space that fostered a more interactive relationship with the public. The Pavilion was on stilts and so the viewer had to duck below and climb up inside the floating room from underneath. Something liberating about having to duck and contort yourself on the street in the middle of a city, an exposure that was completely contradicted when you were once inside the space, where you felt cocooned and completely removed from the passing public and traffic on the street outside.
2. Connect. The second was more of a traditional green house shape, long and rectangular with a clear line of vision from one end to the other, meaning a great mismatch of the urban surrounding and the plant life on the interior when you looked from one end. It had seating each side, which mimicked how people sit on the tube, but instead of people looking at their feet and avoiding each other, the space encouraged conversation and sociability.
3. Create. The third space was situation in a park, surrounded by more ‘nature’ than the other two spaces, and so had less spontaneity about it. None-the-less, the space still harboured an air of tranquility, and as we discovered, an ease to talk to whoever was in the space with you, acting like an urban ice breaker for the usually silent city wanderer. This space was also kitted out with power sockets and tiered seating and dotted with sketchbooks that had been doodled in by the public – the perfect space to go and get some work done outside of the office.
Image courtesy of London Design Festival
Image courtesy of London Design Festival
We thought these spaces were a great interruption in the daily hustle and bustle of city life, giving us all that very much needed respite and a little bit of tranquility in our busy day. They also illustrate the vibrant theme of nature that is pulsing through the design world at the moment. One way we’ve been inspired by Khan’s design is to use a more natural colour scheme, specifically colours from Dulux’s Colour Futures New Romanticism Collection. You could also to bring a little bit of the Living Forest’s into your own interior design through the use of house plants, another trend that embodies the surge and popularity of nature in our homes at the moment!
At Dulux’s Colour Futures we discovered what trends were in store for 2017. In particular we noticed the re-emergence of the 1970s house plant, creeping their way back into our beloved homes. Dulux’s New Romanticism Collection is rooted in in nature and showed us just how we can bring life back into our homes. (read our Colour Futures post here)
Dulux’s New Romanticism colour palette embraces the Hippie and Bohemian culture of the 1970s that we all know too well, mixing wicker seating and crochet accessories with muted and earthy tones, as well as showing the new shift from small floral arrangements to full on garden rooms.
Of all the myriad sources of inspiration available online, Pinterest seems to have risen to the top of the pile. It’s quick and easy to use, and fun to set up boards for all sorts of things – weddings, food to make, event decoration, outfits to wear, hairdos to attempt and rooms to emulate.
It has its limitations. It’s fun to pin, but how many of your pins have you actually ever attempted (be honest)? For most people it’s only 1 or 2 out of 1000s of pins. A lot of it is just pretty, and actually unfeasible (you might have loads of pictures of beautiful New England clapboard houses, but if you like in a semi in Hull, will be unlikely to be able to replicate the feel and space). You are also limited to the images on Pinterest, or those with good searchable tags. Don’t be fooled into thinking these are the only wedding dresses that exist. And then there’s the main problem – sourcing. You find something you absolutely love and must have, but it’s only an image and doesn’t contain any details. So no stunning dining room table for you. You can’t even find where the original image came from because it has been repined so many times. Or it’s mislabelled. Or so old it’s now out of stock.
But it can be a fabulous way of narrowing down your tastes and conveying the look and feel you are after to a designer. It can also be a great way for you to see if colours and textures work well together. Or if you have a mid-century modern sideboard and are not quite sure how to style it into a period property, chances are someone else has done so and you can see how to do it. Seeing so many amazing rooms can inspire you to be more brave with loud colour and pattern, many companies like Cole & Son have had a huge increase in sales after exposure on Pinterest.
Designers can also show off things that they like, but haven’t yet managed to use, or rooms they have styled that may not be presented in their portfolio (for example, Kia Designs have completed over 100 projects but only display a recent selection on our website and Houzz). You can check out more of our work here.
Installing or replacing a skylight with a crane can be a tricky and costly business, especially if you live in a busy city. Kia Designs recently replaced a dated and worn skylight for clients in London’s Regent’s Park, with a new walk-on glass that was central to the interior stairwell. It looks spectacular, but getting it into place was a nerve wracking process steeped in bureaucracy and logistical co-ordination.
Adding a light well to your home is a fantastic way to introduce natural light to dark spaces. It improves the atmosphere of nearly every dwelling. They are a particularly fantastic addition to many period properties which have elegant and impressive stairwells, often spanning 5 or more floors, flooding light all the way down to the basement. They add a lot of value and once in place are
Art has often inspired interiors and vice versa. Recently the trend towards bolder and more interesting wallpapers, brought on by platforms such as Pinterest making people more brave and design curious, has resulted in a decline in paint sales in the domestic market. Deluxe is fighting back by presenting new and interesting ways to decorate with paint. And it appeals – it’s cheaper and more durable than wallpaper, plus if you don’t like it it’s easy to change and if you scuff it you can simply repaint patches and eventually return it to white when you come to sell.
When presenting Colour Futures and Colour of the Year, Akzo Nobel, the company that owns Dulux, kitted out an entire London Townhouse with themed rooms to provide inspiration for designers and showcase their new tones. It was all about creating interesting and character simply with paint, such as using it to reintroduce past features, such as dado rails, picture rails or to create new features such as study areas or abstract patination.
We particularly liked this room, which reminded me of the Geometric Futurists work. All blocks of interspersing colour and sharp borders. The colours also appeared more muted in person, rather than the ultra bright tones in the photo.
The problem with being an interior design intern in London today is you don’t really get a good overview of the whole business. You end up sitting behind a desk for a few weeks repeating a few simple processes and not really learning what goes on.
It’s always useful to understand how a design practice works, even if you don’t intend to start your own business. Nearly every decision made in a business will have an impact, consequence or run-on effect. It’s a bit like “the butterfly effect” one simple decision can have reverberations that aren’t felt until later. For example, you see a lovely demi-lune sofa. It’s more than the client wants to spend, and they um and ahh over it for a month. In the end they agree and transfer you over the whole buying balance. Because they stalled for over a month, you are now right by a VAT due day, and have to declare the entire amount and send off a whopping cheque to HMRC. You’ll get it back, but it will take several months, so for the time being you’ll have to cover the shortfall and pay for the items yourself (you’ve got a spare £60,000 in your account, right?).
The company offers a trade discount, which you factor in to the costings, only to find that you don’t meet the terms and conditions and aren’t eligible. Then there’s the fabric. Because the sofa is an unusual and large shape and size, you can’t go for the fabric you’d originally chosen for the living room because they don’t do it in large enough rolls, so you have to chose another or have a seam going through the middle. You go for another fabric, which is produced in extra wide widths, but your usual flame-proofing company can only deal with fabric up to 2m wide, so it has to be sent to a specialist place in Germany which adds 2 weeks to the lead time. The sofa, it turns out, doesn’t fit in the service lift or up the staircase in the client’s house. Taking a window out isn’t an option, so the manufactures are going to have to make it in halves and construct most of it on site, this is super costly and blows the budget considerably.
Knowing every part of the business means you can factor all these things in when making the purchase, if not, they are horrible surprises that usually end up costing the client more, and can be timely to rectify or work around.
The Lilford Gallery has recently shown a Solo Exhibition of Liverpudlian artist Carne Griffiths. Griffiths works with a mixture of inks, to create intricately latticed drawings, and then develops and pushed these drawings further by reworking them with liquids such as tea, vodka and brandy, which add more depth and freedom to his works.
Original, Ink, Vodka and Pigment Pen on Bockingford Watercolour Paper
Original Ink and Tea on Bockingford Watercolour Paper
Giclee print on Hahnemuhle 310gsm German Etching Paper with Hand Torn Edges
Edition of 20
Originally having studied at what was then called Kent Institute of Art and Design (now known as the University for the Creative Arts), Griffiths graduated as an illustrator and went on to work for a further 12 years as a gold wire embroidery designer at Atelier Hand & Lock, before becoming the Creative Director. Lines can be drawn from this background and the intricacies with which he works, and the repeated patterns and rhythms that he draws with.
Griffiths’ content usually includes the figurative alongside flora and fauna, trying to demonstrate humankind’s relationship with the natural world. His preferred medium of fountain pens, rather that drawing pens, and ink demonstrate a desire for freedom and chance whilst drawing. This works well with his desire to create dreamscapes and want to allow his audiences to delve into a form of escapism. His exhibition with the Lilford Gallery showed his drawings along side an interactive work that pushes the boundaries of escapism in art. The viewer is able to explore a 3D world produced by the artist himself through a headset. Not only was the
Giclee print on Hahnemuhle 310gsm German Etching Paper with Hand Torn Edges
work beautifully indicative of his own style, but further transported the viewer into his new dream-like world and was wholly absorptive.
His works are still on show and available at both Lilford Folkestone and Palace Street Galleries.
We’re often asked about our design process, and how best to display and present your Interior Design to our clients. We’ve already blogged about why we don’t use 3D visualisations so let’s talk about what we actually do.
Having spoken to the client and established what they need and want to get out of the process, and having seen a selection of images they like and established a sense of their taste and lifestyle, work beings on creating a scheme. Functionality comes first – there are set requirements to fill and problems to solve. Then we look at decorating and filing the space appropriately. We have an extensive portfolio of suppliers we work with often, who we know to be reliable, excellent quality, deliver on time and on price and suit a variety of budgets. We also always attend trade fairs and have a list of new suppliers we are interested in forming relationships with. Where we research depends entirely on the client. At the moment we are looking for a client who wants items completely in keeping with their Victorian mansion, that look very English. We’re looking at vintage pieces from places like Christie’s Interiors auctions and at reputable antique dealers, but keeping the budget under control with other pieces from Coach House Antiques. In contrast,the design brief for another project we have calls for more glam, unique items, where the look and feel is the key determining factor, not budget, so we’ve spent more time on 1st Dibs, LuxDeco and the glossy showrooms of Chelsea Design Harbour.
When we’ve selected a few key items, the rest of the scheme comes together fairly fluently. The fabric and style of a sofa usually has an overbearing influence on everything else in the living room, for example, it will dictate the size and height of the coffee table and rug, so that will drastically narrow the field when you are searching products. We also use this time to push clients towards items they might not have considered or have previously dismissed. A current client said she liked the wooden venetian blinds currently in her flat and would like them replaced with something similar. When we asked why, she said that fabric blinds get too dirty (she is above a busy road) and plantation shutters cut out too much light, and she couldn’t think of any other options. We can, however, think of lots of other options, so it’s always worth understanding why your clients do and don’t want items in their new home. Sometimes the clients isn’t always right – “I don’t want a fabric sofa, I spill tea on it and can’t wash it” (ok, you spill tea – we’ll get you a fabric sofa where you can unzip every cushion and wash to your heart’s content).
So when we think we’ve come up with a suitable design scheme, we put together a presentation (slide show) and talk through our plans and the furnishings for each room. The client usually mulls it over for a few days and then often makes a few changes (sofa too low, wallpaper too blue) and then we make adjustments accordingly. We also give them a complete costing sheet. That also helps them make decisions about the design – “I’m not keen on those bedside tables and they are more than I’d like to spend on something I’m not sure about”. Below is a presentation we have just given to an actual client. We’ll post again after they have come back to us with the necessary amendments and we’ll show you how the design evolves.
Interior Design is a very personal thing, and we focus 100% on the client in each and every one of our designs. It often happens that what a client wants, or what is best for their situation is too niche or personal for industry acknowledgement or press. Occasionally, however, you produce a design that just pleases everybody. Our recent Knightsbridge project has done just that. We have a super happy client, who’s needs have all been catered to and who has a lovely and comfortable home, who has a story interesting enough to garner press attention and a flat with a design scheme stunning enough to have been shortlisted for every award we have entered it into.
The press have loved Kia’s take on modern deco and her blend of modern comforts with traditional proportions. The entire property has been shortlisted for the The Sunday Times British Home Awards.
The bathrooms in particular were a delight to design. They all came with the sort of challenges that keep you up at night wondering how you are going to box off those pipes in the middle of the room, but bring real satisfaction when you manage to make it all look like part of the design. There was a requirement that all the surfaces be extremely hardwearing and that the designs should not look dated within a few years and should last out the client’s lifetime. The studio took the client’s future ageing into consideration, so that some of the bathrooms would cater to limited mobility issues.
The bathrooms are also where the design best pays homage to the deco period from which the building originates. Hexagonal taps and shower heads in polished chrome as well as geometric mosaic tile motifs playfully nod to the era, whilst the marble-effect porcelain wall and floor tiles are the embodiment of modern technology mimicking something fragile and beautiful but creating a surface which is durable and hardy.
Ever since Pinterest and Instagram have burst onto the scene, people have been more brave and experimental when it comes to pattern and colour. Bold pallets have been introduced to even the most suburban homes, and sales of magnolia have plummeted. The next frontier – multicolour and blended tones. Ombre is building momentum in the industry and offering clients a really interesting, bespoke looking design.
Ombre: having colors or tones that shade into each other —used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark
Harlequin’s Amazilia ombre velvet is just stunning. It comes in lots of colours and is very versatile. It’s a short cut velvet, and very soft and luxurious feeling. People often tell us they want a fabric that is “that colour” but not in velvet. Can’t be done. Velvet’s unique pile allows it to take on dye in a way most other fabrics can’t, so if you want a strong sharp colour, velvet is your best bet. It’s also one of the most durable fabrics available, and the newer ones are coated with nibbling bug deterrents so you don’t end up with moth holes.
This ombre range bands 2 colours together. It looks more like a Rothko than an upholstery fabric. It’s called St Germain by Metaphors, and is available in the UK through Abbott and Boyd. The producer uses artisanal dyeing on a base of Saint Germain velvet. This unusual technique gives the colours richness and depth. The artisan dye process makes this product unique
They would make stunning curtains or a headboard. Think bigger than cushions!
The Harlequin velvet is produced in large widths specifically for sofa and curtain use.
Ombre wallpaper is available from many suppliers and can range from subtle pastel hues to deep tones with extreme transitions. Artwork looks great against it, particularly with metallic frames that go with the warmer colour tones. Don’t use ombre walls as a stand alone feature, place furniture against it and hang lots of pictures – it does a wonderful job of enhancing other objects.
A pastel ombre sunset wallpaper from Origin
Or for a more bespoke version, Dulux recently displayed a hand painted dry brush ombre wall in their colour of the year “Denim Drift” which is a lovely grey/blue shade with plenty of depth.
What’s been going on this week at Kia Designs and in the world of Interior Design in London. We are here to answer that question with our weekly round up.
Working out with your contractor that this tile pattern both is and isn’t important. This was always going to be a star pattern but we didn’t want it to dominate the first line as you came in to the room. Better that it’s more central in the room.
I adore being able to go through new designs with clients, seeing what parts gel and what needs to be adjusted. This design was particularly challenging. It doesn’t have any building works and so it required us to work within the limitations of the current layout of the property. It’s come together really well and the clients were extremely patient going through everything late on a Wednesday night. Talk about a long hump day!
Being an intern can be hard, for many interns it is the first time they have worked in an office or studio and it can be a harsh adjustment. These 5 tips will help you when the tough gets going to make sure that both you and your new employer get the most out of our placement.
Never be afraid to ask a stupid question
Whether it be for 2 months or 12 months you need to show that you want to be there, that you deserve to be there because most intern positions have tens if not hundreds of students going for them. So get stuck in, talk in discussions, especially if you are being asked your opinion – make your time in the limelight count.
Our Baker Street project is on the market! We’re very proud of our contribution to the refurbishment of this lovely listed flat, and as you can see, the works and the rising market have resulted in the property almost doubling since its last sale and netting our old clients just over £1m.
Hiring a competent interior designer is the easiest way to create a home you can both live in comfortably and add value to. An architect will tell you how to get the most sq footage out of a space, but that isn’t always the best value. Recently our clients hired an architect who suggested they dig down at the front of their house and give the basement room a bay window, thus turning it into a liveable room. On paper, this sounds like excellent advice, and they were keen to go ahead. In reality, they already have more bedrooms that they need and use upstairs. What they wanted the basement for was a cinema room, so after you’ve spent £9000 digging down and installing the windows, you are going to pay to cover them up with super black-out blinds so that you can watch films in the daytime £3500. By doing so, you’ve also lost all the space outside your front door, so you’re bins have to now go in the garden and be wheeled through the house on bin day, plus they have a baby, so there is no where to park the pram whilst you get the front door open. A windowed basement is predicted to add between £8-12k value to the property, so it really isn’t worth it for them. Plus it will mean a future buyer will be purchasing a property with ‘value adding potential’ which ironically adds to the price.