Design Centre Stories

Design Date: Kit Kemp


Kit Kemp is the design force behind Firmdale Hotels, a collection of eight boutique hotels in London and one in New York: with their focus on craftsmanship, individuality and a style that is recognisably English yet refreshingly global, they have elevated the notion of what hotels should look like. Her talk at the Design Centre delves into how collaborations with artists and a playful approach to fabric and colour conjures up inviting spaces that have distinct personalities all of their own.

Conversations in Design: Every Room Tells a Story, 11.30am, 15 March.

Your look is very distinctive – do you think your approach is different to that of other designers? I hope it is different and I know it is distinctive! The detail is very important but basically I love colour and a carefree feeling in my surroundings. I am a designer and love lots of other styles and appreciate all the different modes of achieving it.

Where do you head to first at the Design Centre? All the fabric houses! Then I go to lighting and then I go to the furniture. The Design Centre has a cornucopia of beautifully designed fabrics.

Is craftsmanship an important factor for you? Everybody wants something tailor made for their home. Something that says something special about them or their family. I think people can be more individual and this is a great opening for creative craftsman and furniture makers in our industry.

In my latest book, Every Room Tells a Story, I talk about my design alliances with craftsman and artists around the world. The design world is always moving and evolving and we like to push it in a different direction.

What’s your style at home? Is it a testbed for new ideas? Hairdressers always have the messiest hairstyle, architects always have an unfinished home and my interior designs are usually in the workplace and not at home, where I don’t want to see another builder! Having said that, new colours and styles always keep creeping in.

Where do you feel at your most creative? When I’m travelling and somewhere I don’t know very well. I think your mind is open to new ideas, and one bit of inspiration can lead to another.