An Interview with our Senior Interior Designer, Leah Townsend, ahead of the Design Et Al, International Design and Architecture awards 2017 where we have been shortlisted for Luxury residence of the year on our Chiddingstone Street property which was completed at the beginning of this year.
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I have always been drawn to the arts and anything and everything creative. My original passion was fashion and from a young age I spent most evenings at the sewing machine making my own clothes. I'm not sure much of it was any good but I loved it.
I originally went into the fashion industry but found that it didn't satisfy my creative hunger as much as I had hoped and I constantly found myself being drawn to the world of interiors.
My interior design journey began at KLC School of Design, where I re-trained, and since then I have worked at several commercial and residential design firms, briefly in the U.A.E, but mainly in central London.
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
Time and time again I find myself attracted to things that challenge my perspective of what is 'beautiful' and subsequently I believe that my own style tends to sway towards the more eclectic and the unconventional as opposed to the symmetrical and the traditional.
I've always believed that to create real depth within an interior design it is important to incorporate the design 'classics', whether it is in furniture or lighting.
I'm always drawn to the architectural features of a house and love working with these features instead of playing against them. I feel that they will only ever elevate your design.
Stylistically I find it liberating to challenge the rules of proportions but ultimately feel that my style is influenced by the greatest Danish furniture makers; high in detail but low in fuss.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
I don't believe in inspiration as a mystic phenomenon but instead a fluid series of influences taken from anything and everything. Living in London is a great influence for me, I thrive on having access to some of the world most renowned art, architecture, interiors and cultures, new and old, right on my doorstop. It is both fascinating and humbling.
A client's vision and style is also an important influence on every design we produce at BTL. It's important that their personality become a part of the creative process. Although every designer has their own style, the greatest and most rewarding projects are the ones that ask you to channel a different style to your own and challenge your own creativity.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
For me, I would like to see a push towards designs that are as environmentally friendly and organic as possible and I hope that the industry feels the same. I think it is incredibly important that a design is as sustainable as possible, I believe that we all play a very important part in being able to make a significant difference.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
Although it is important to push design boundaries in every sense, it is more important to stay true to the fact that it is a home that you are ultimately creating, it's important to never lose sight of that. A home should only bring pleasure to the people and families that go on to live there.
How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
These awards are important to us as they are an opportunity to display and show off the projects we have worked so hard to achieve and the work we are so proud of.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are always working on a wide range of different projects of varying styles which is what makes this job so wonderful. The people we meet and the houses we have the opportunity to transform will always bring great enjoyment to the whole BTL Property team.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
To keep working hard to achieve beautiful designs and create together with the help of our incredibly talented design and build teams, homes that are not only enjoyed by the people that live in them but appreciated by the wider world too.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
Working as a designer means that you are continuously tempted by the acquisition of those special pieces, whether it's furniture or art work or the rare but beautiful piece of objet. I am often faced with the ultimate question 'is this piece perfect for my client, or perfect for me!'
Each piece I collect becomes a treasured possession so it's hard to pick a favourite. If it was a question of what I would save in an emergency then I would have to say some of my family jewellery as well as my favourite pieces of art, either my own and other artists.
Your favourite holiday destination?
France continues to lure me back year on year, more so than anywhere else I have ever visited. I have been holidaying there ever since I was a child and have so many fond memories of visiting the same family house that has been passed down for generations. Now not only is it a holiday in the sunshine but an important family tradition.
Your favourite food and drink?
I am a vegetarian so my favourite foods are probably not as exciting as other peoples. I do miss sea food terribly (am I allowed to say that as a vegetarian?!) But wine is my favoured treat. I am completely fascinated by the stuff and it's a hobby of mine to try and continuously educate myself in the wonderful subject that is the grape!
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