She’s the interior designer to the stars and making her mark as the new judge on the BBC’s ‘Great Interior Design Challenge’. So what’s next for the UK’s favourite style-guru, Kelly Hoppen? Stephen Penn catches up with her in London to find out

For many top-name designers, nurturing flourishing businesses and building robust brands requires limitless reserves of stamina and relentless passion. For South-African born interior designer Kelly Hoppen, however, it’s a “life regime” she relishes with gusto. As one of the UK’s best-loved style gurus, with a who’s who client list including the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Sir Elton John and Victoria Beckham, adapting to changing client needs and trends is just another “twist in the career tale” of creating inspirational relevant design, one that she’s grafted hard for since she was 16.

It’s this focused, pragmatic approach that has seen Hoppen sail through a stellar career spanning over 40 years. While her designs are known for their simplicity and quality, her entrepreneurial spirit and self-starting ambition she attributes largely to her mother. “She came from a wealthy background, but her dynamic, creative personality was such that she launched herself into business from an early age – first by selling maps of Africa and then on building a hugely successful business specialising in books and maps. Later on - she branched out into writing books as well as running an art gallery. Throughout my career, I’ve learnt from her that problems always have a solution if you give yourself time to reflect on them. It’s a philosophy I always try and adopt in the work place.”

Her portfolio certainly boasts a diverse selection of projects, from designing one of the most exclusive Hong Kong addresses in Shenzhen Bay to helping redefine luxury travel with Celebrity Cruises Edge Class, with time in between to publish nine books.

Collaborating with prestigious brands is a design ‘spin-off’ she particularly enjoys, with recent partnerships including the creation of an exclusive collection of fireplaces with Chesneys and an upmarket carpet collection with commercial giants, Brintons.

In 2014, she made her product ranges, from bed linens and furniture to lights and cushions, accessible to the masses with her e-commerce store, kellyhoppen.com, and has a range of home products with QVC. Her zest for design it seems show no sign of waning anytime soon.

Are you easily inspired?  

I find a lot of inspiration in travelling, exploring new cultures and scenery - growing up I was extremely lucky to travel often with my parents, and those experiences have definitely shaped me as a designer.

Tell us about a recent exciting project

I love taking on a challenge, something totally out of my comfort zone. I recently collaborated with Richloom on a range of commercial fabrics. Having worked in hospitality design for many years now, I’ve always struggled to find commercial grade fabrics with the same tactility as fabrics you find in the home, so I wanted to create a range adhered to regulations without compromising on textures.

How do you select business to collaborate with?

My designs and my brand are so important to me, so any collaboration has to be the right fit. Every brand I’ve collaborated with I have a huge amount of respect for - the most important thing is that it is a unique proposition to make the collaboration interesting. I don’t like to do the same old thing that’s been done millions of times before, it has to excite me and present a challenge.”

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career so far?

It has to be receiving my MBE. I’ve been working in interior design since I was 16 and a half, and it was such an incredible honour to have my hard work recognised in this way - receiving it was a dream come true.

What have learned about yourself throughout this time?

No matter what route I’ve taken in my career, and the challenges I have taken on - such as mentorship roles with various charities including The Prince’s Trust, or my television work, I will always come back to design - it’s where my heart is and I’m so lucky to have been able to do it successfully for so many years.

How do you keep your designs fresh and new while maintaining your signature style?

My tastes are always evolving and I’m always finding new inspiration, but I always stick to the same core design principles; clean lines, balance and symmetry. I’ve never been led by trends as such, fashion and style are two very different things - classic style will always stand the test of time.

What are your top interior style trends for autumn 2018?

For me, the biggest trend at the moment is terrazzo; but not your usual large, junky terrazzo. Terrazzo has had an upmarket makeover, with bespoke pieces available that use chips of marble for a truly dramatic effect. Another big trend is for overhead spaces as they’re always overlooked - people are only just realising how adding elements to the ceiling of a room can transform a space.


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