As an Interior Designer of many years, I know that the truly successful projects are those that make a user feel happy and well. This "wellness" aspect is something that good interior designers think about at all stages, and I love seeing how this comes to life in a scheme.
Great Interior Designers exceed standards by thinking beyond aesthetics and looking deeper at the 'health' of a scheme. Initially you will see the visual; the views, the materials used, colour, texture - any and everything that you see - but there is far more behind a healthy design than the aesthetic.
Friend of Kalukanda House, Harriet Forde is an acclaimed Interior Designer and recent ex-President of the BIID. She specialises in residential and hospitality design and her portfolio is peppered with a variety of styles that differ across a spectrum of clients.
I particularly love this reception space at a De Vere Hotel, the blend of period features in an airy space side by side with modern materials popped by the backlit, mustard reception desk draws me in. There is so much more to creating a space than you would think.
Harriet will be co-hosting a Design podcast with Hamish Kilburn of Hotel Designs Magazine, they will be discussing all things design and hospitality and it is sure to be a lively chat.
Harriet told me how she defines "wellbeing" within Interior Design and perfectly describes the complex nature of our business.
Wellbeing may be an overused and somewhat nebulous term, but good interior design should subtly impart a sense of it to everyone that enters the space. This sense stems from the expertise of the interior designer, as he or she looks to create a balance and harmony through proportion, symmetry and colour that appeal to the senses of sight, sound, smell and touch.
It is clear that we are deeply affected by our environments and in turn we influence the spaces we inhabit, often seeking to adapt them if they do not suit our requirements. Adapting and enhancing are part of an interior designer’s skillset and remit.
For a client, the advantage of using an interior designer is that another person takes responsibility for maintaining the relationship between the wellbeing and the design ‘vision’ as it develops throughout the design process. This informed guide works closely with others on the team - whether consultants, contractors or specialist designers - and thus helps to steer the project to its optimal conclusion. An interior designer also keeps in touch with the budget, which can help to eliminate expensive mistakes, perhaps due to hasty decision. Generally, they aim to ensure that a client’s confidence and a positive bank balance remains high up the list of priorities during the project period, which can be very welcome during a potentially stressful time.
From the outset, a detailed consideration of the functional use of the space for its intended occupants is necessary. Wellbeing and ease of living is created through the careful positioning of areas, such as food preparation and consumption, playing and exercise, relaxing, bathing and sleeping. No one wants the smell of fried food permeating its way throughout the house or to find work impossible if the teenagers’ PlayStation is dominating the soundscape.
When designing an interior, great thought must be given to the suitability of the products. Appropriate and desirable materials, surfaces and finishes need to reflect the use of the room. The aim is to create a sense of comfort and nurturing in sleeping or relaxing areas, stylish durability in highly functional areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, and a quiet calm area for focus and work. In all spaces, the use of natural materials such as stone, marble, wood, cotton, silk and wool are desirable, as they add to a gentle environment that reflects our roots in nature.
Sometimes overlooked is how natural light and good views from our buildings can be best implemented. In our sometimes darker northern hemisphere, this can engender more positive mindsets and encouragement of our circadian rhythms, particularly for those recovering from illness. Other considerations for health include ensuring good clean air and its movement, which has particular significance in light of the global pandemic.
When installing a client back into a refurbished or a new-build property, it is important to remember that for many people, order adds to a sense of ease. A place for everything and careful consideration of spaces for treasured, meaningful objects creates calm. In practical terms, designing in advance - whether as seemingly mundane as where the ironing board or the tool box goes - creates a well thought-out interior that is a joy to inhabit. Talking of joy, the much discussed KonMari style of decluttering has its positive aspects when embarking on a process of reduction and clearance.
Finally, when seeking a guide to wellness within the home, we would do well to keep in mind the words of William Morris: ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe beautiful’.
Harriet Forde started her design education studying interior design at The London School of Furniture and then textile design at Central St Martins. Combining these two learning paths she went on to join her first design company which specialised in hotels. For the next 10 years she honed her skills with Richmond International, Areen Design and Richard Daniel Design. Working for these companies gave her the opportunity to travel widely and design for hotels around the world.
After starting a family, Harriet decided to set up Harriet Forde Design so she was able to combine the jobs of mother and designer. Her company is now in its 21styear, and has worked on projects in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, taking on both hospitality and residential jobs. Apart from running a successful business, Harriet enjoys yoga, cooking with friends in the Cook Book Club, and travel. She supports Barnardo’s charity by mentoring young people.