Hospitality Design


Over the past several months I have been designing holiday accommodation aimed at the luxury end of the market – far beyond glamping, these buildings are intended for those who want the very best on their getaway breaks. They are about to go into production, and I am so excited to be able to share them here.


I sort of fell into this whole scenario by accident. Initially I was asked to design the interiors by the development and manufacturing companies involved, but I ended up designing the entire buildings as they liked my ideas and encouraged me to do them. I also agreed initially to work on them as they are made from carbon neutral materials – using amazing new technology and products to recycle and reuse materials. I am passionate about sustainable design, and so this really piqued my interest. I was also challenged to create a design that would be fabricated off-site, and then shipped in to construct so as to avoid as much disruption to the landowners as possible. They can be totally off-grid; water, power and waste can all be managed in a sustainable way as well. What’s not to love?!

Once the designs are done, a structural engineer and the manufacturing company take over to make sure they are fit for purpose and fulfilling all building regulations. Although I am a designer, I am not a qualified architect so these measures are 100% necessary. We have an amazing alternative to standard foundations, these buildings sit on what basically look like huge screws. These are embedded in the ground, and can go near tree roots, on uneven ground, into a lake bed and so on.


I designed 3 different houses based on natural shapes – The Seed, The Poppy & The Bud. They comprise of an octagonal inner house wrapped in an external skeleton of curved, linear struts which embrace the inner house. The sizes and configurations vary, offering choice to the customer in terms of scale, site and cost. They are raised above the ground to elevate the views, two have roof terraces, and the other had an internal balcony so that you can be above the canopy to take full advantage of the views and location.


We also commissioned some fly-through videos to show how the designs look in place, although I had built them in 3D I needed some superior rendering and animation skills to really bring them to life – they look amazing.

With the whole Covid scenario, the desire for holidays in the UK has really changed, and these are perfect for staycations when set in beautiful landscapes and woodlands. The company has had amazing feedback for them, and orders are coming in. I have to pinch myself occasionally from what started as a doodle in a meeting (below) to the realisation of the final product.

The starting point….


Restaurant Design


During the lockdown I was asked to design a restaurant for a new development being built in SE London – a luxury destination restaurant spread across 4 floor and with astounding views across the city which are crying out to be celebrated.  The local area has a rich history which was reflected in the design elements such as metalwork, glass and other materials.

Each level has a coherent design which changes and morphs slightly as the guests rise through the building.  There are wide-open and then more intimate spaces to choose from as areas to dine in.  Roof terraces mean cocktails can be enjoyed whilst taking in the views.  The site is one of the highest in London, so you can literally see for miles.


The site has a basement kitchen and service area, plus a ground floor area which is a smart cafe in the day and a welcoming pre-dinner drink bar area for the restaurant at night.

cadfe 3 external tables woman only_Cafe Sun ext south with people andplantscafe night smaller

This ground floor space has a lift which take the guests to another level (in many respects…)


Guests exit the lift on the 3rd floor, into the first part of the main restaurant with views straight ahead across SW London and a terrace.

Final day looking south level 3 copyFinal Night Level 3 look south copy

From this level a bespoke staircase leads up the 4th floor.

look to stairs_ copy

The 4th floor has 360 degrees views around London and is walled entirely in glass.  To the East the views are of the City of London with landmarks such as the Shard illuminated at night.

SOUTH STRAIGHT no walking lady

By day, this area of the restaurant has a retracting roof, so good weather can be enjoyed under a protective canopy which creates beautiful shadow patterns.

the light!

In the central area of this floor are private dining pods with living walls and light portals to enjoy the stars at night overhead.

green wall

The plans are to use the restaurant for notable chefs to take residencies, creating a gourmet destination for guests set in luxurious surroundings.

Working on student designs in isolation

Decorating, Interior Design, Musings, university

The recent outbreak and isolation strategies have made it possible to work in my own studio in my home for the current University project.  I am designing a new site for the restaurant Box-E in Bristol, to include a light fitting design with a prototype model.   We wearer supposed to be having a big Crit this coming Tuesday, but now I think it will have to be virtual instead.  Although the latter part of the project is simply not possible without the fabrication facilities at my University, I have managed to get on with the rest of the work thanks to my trusty (but quite slow) Mac and subscriptions to programs like Autocad, Adobe, Sketchup and VRay.  The student rates for subscriptions make it just about affordable to use these programs, and if not there is always paper, a scale ruler and a pencil -a reversion to the old ways of designing before computers were invented.

The pro’s of this current situation are that I am not wasting 3 hours a day travelling to and from University.  It should only take 40 minutes as the bird flies, but I meet up with all commuter traffic usually, so spend a lot of time sat in jams.  This is not all negative as I have a clear ‘thinking’ time, which has got to be good for my mindfulness and wellbeing  – as long as I don’t get road rage…  Plus I get to listen to lots of music and podcasts thanks to Spotify and BBC Sounds, so I can arrive at my destination bursting with information and inspiration.  But I am also finding that being at home and not travelling this week makes these 3 hours really count as productive time.

Another pro is that I can set my computer to render whenever I want, especially overnight without worrying that I am hogging a machine from other students.  I also don’t have to pack a huge amount of bags every morning with all manner of equipment that I ‘might’ need, lug large portfolios or make a packed lunch.

The con’s are that I cannot use the amazing facilities at University at the moment, especially Fabrication where I can get messy and experiment with making things.  The technicians are really helpful and so full of skills, and as I have done a lot of the induction training on machines I can normally just get on with making samples, trying new things etc.  I also miss the  extensive library where there are a lot of magazines, periodicals and books on interiors and architecture to browse, the internet is great for information but it’s too easy to scroll and miss something compared to looking at a book in hand.

Also,  I have developed a bad habit of not really bothering to get dressed straight away now that I am stuck at home.  I have answered the door twice this week to delivery men, had a 2 meter chat with neighbours over the fence, and taken out the bins, all whilst clad in my dressing gown and at around 4pm.  Mental note: must try harder….

But in spite of all of the craziness of this week, I have still managed to build my final scale model, finish my autocad and sketchup designs, create visualisations and organise my samples.  My A1 boards are done and were ready to be printed tomorrow, (now to be electronic), and I also made a start on other Uni work such as my portfolio.

Considering that I am also working 2 days a week (also now from home), being a mum, feeding the family, doing the laundry, cleaning, gardening and running a house… I think I am doing OK!  Maybe I deserve the pyjamas and dressing gown scenario after all.


Concrete Light Portal Brick System


I investigated concrete as a material for my Dom-Ino house project.  I wanted to create a wall of bricks which created a clear boundary for a stairwell of a house sunk into the ground, but also which allowed light to enter the space and create interesting moving patterns and reflections on internal mirrored stainless steel walls.

I experimented with making voids in concrete brick shaped blocks.  I used squares and circles as the void shapes, which were a reference to my client who frequently uses geometry in his work.  The concrete was made from a variety of mixes using dyes.  A red tone was added to lessen the industrial grey of standard concrete, and help the wall blend into the surrounding rock face.  I found a concrete which uses 70% of slag furnace waste instead of Portland lime, which is far more ecologically practical than standard mixes.

I experimented with embedding materials into the concrete; ground glass, recycled plastics and metal.

On some models I used mirror internally to see if that would reflect light even more, but it was removed in the end in case it created extra strong light beams that might start a fire.


A scale model shows how the wall would behave, with strong light shapes moving through the voids as light is moved around the bricks.

Visualisations of how the wall would work in practice:

STAIRS and woman

Post Crit front house with shadows fade out white copy 2



Autumn Fair 2019

accessories, Decorating, Exhibitions, home decor, Lifestyle, Musings, Ramblings, Shopping, sustainability

This week I visited the NEC for The Autumn Fair, which is an exhibition for buyers covering homeware, gifts, fashion, retails solutions, home decor and more.


It is a vast space and was packed with exhibitors from across the globe.  There was colour trend forecasting also on offer, with 4 distinct trends and co-ordinating colour palettes – Dome, Scarcity, Gorge and Ritual were the themes:

Moving through the exhibition, in which there were literally hundreds of stalls, the next stop was home decor and lighting.  There were some lovely companies showing.  Coach House were particularly elegant and had a wide range of styles with a strong emphasis in oversized lighting:

I discovered a new brand called One World, and love their oversized furniture and accessories:

Plus I found a fantastic lighting company called Light & Living from the Netherlands, featured below.  Every light was beautiful, and I love the mesh pendants (which incidentally a lot of brands featured so they will be a big thing in 2020).  Their lights were beautiful, although very heavy so the practical designer in me popped out as I pondered the way to hang them safely on a standard British light fitting..

So looking at trends for 2020 home decor, colour is definitely creeping back in, even if the sophisticated greys/blush combos and Hygge remain popular.  I am really happy to see some colour after years of pale greys though….


On another positive note, there was a large emphasis from exhibitors on sustainability.  I spent ages talking to a Chinese manufacturer from the Shaoneng Group about their products made from sugar cane and bamboo waste pulp.  They apply it to disposable food retail products, but it could also apply to many other home items.  It is biodegradable, water and oil proof and much more.  A wonderful product, especially for take aways and similar food outlets.


So definitely an interesting place to visit and see what is on offer, how it is made and what some companies are doing to help sustainability and recycling.  This month I also will be visiting 100% Design & The London Design Fair, so watch this space for more ramblings…

How a pot of paint can cause chaos…

before and after, Colour, Decorating, Interior Design, interiors, Makeover

In the last couple of weeks I decided to repaint my sitting room.  It has been the same colour for ages, and I felt an update was in order.  I am getting very drawn to orange at the moment, and as the room has a lot of light and high ceilings, I felt that it could take a dark tone and create a different feel to the existing colour.  This is the room as it was…

It was originally painted in Drab, a now discontinued Farrow & Ball paint.  I chose a strong orange by Valspar called Storybook Sundown to replace it.  I have orange elsewhere in the room in the rug, upholstery and cushions and this colour complimented them the best…


So with 5 litres I started to paint.  You  know that moment when you think ‘Hmm, not sure if I am liking this…?”, well it came pretty soon after the first coat.  I have been so used to the previous colour and this is so out of my comfort zone that I started to to think I had made a mistake.  But I decided to continue to see what would happen.


BUT… once it was done I loved it.  Really vibrant, rich and cocooning.

Now this is where the chaos started… when I say chaos I mean a nuclear chain of events starting from the initial one pot of paint.   My sofa now looked really insipid against all of the other bright colours.  The room needed something stronger/darker in colour/tone to work with these walls.  The current sofa is a Wesley Barrell Knole, and cost a huge amount when purchased.  It is quite tired now and has been an old faithful for over a decade, so I thought this would be the time to revamp it.  Investigations into re-upholstering it revealed it costs as much if not more to do as getting a new sofa.  The seat cushions alone cost £500 for new inserts, not to mention 15m of fabric and upholstery costs.

Egged on by my daughter we set out to find a new sofa.  On my wish list the main priority was NEVER HAVING TO EVER PLUMP ANOTHER CUSHION AGAIN.  This has been the bane of my life with sofas, and actually if I add the hours spent doing it I could have learnt a new language or trekked across a country instead.  So number one priority was a sprung seat and back sofa.

Research then ensued; size, shape, fabric, finish, durability… The internet is great for hunting, but I want to see them in the flesh too and sit on them to see if they are comfortable.  A bit like Goldilocks and her chairs – too firm, too soft or just right?  A sofa is a big expense as well, so once a shortlist had been made we set off in the car on a sofa bouncing mission.

Stop one was a high street store that had not been on my wish list, but was on the way to another shop.  As we mooched about I spotted the perfect sofa; sprung, buttoned and available in the fabric I wanted. It was in DFS, is called the Trafalgar and is a modern version of the chesterfield with buttoned seat and back, plus proper springing.  The shape is more angular than the traditional rounded chesterfield but that is why it looks so nice.


The detailing is lovely, with upholstery studs along the front:


But this colour is too pale and I wanted a richer more textural fabric.  And voila, in their books I found:


The perfect velvet; not shiny like a lot of modern versions but lustrous and deepest black.  And so reader, I ordered one.. and it comes in about 6 weeks to reface the old faithful Knole sofa (which incidentally is going to a very good home where it will be loved  for many more years).

So that was Chaos Element No 1.  This pot of paint has now cost me a new sofa.. but it doesn’t end there.  I like the idea of adding in more black to define the room, so black lampshades have now been ordered for the lamps around the room in black, and passementerie trimmings have been ordered to jazz them up.  That’s Chaos Element No 2.

On top of that I have now started hunting for new curtains to add more drama and tie up the room visually as the current ones are lovely, but look quite pale now compared to the other colours going on in the room, and that’s a 10ft tall bay window to negotiate as a starter.  Not something you can use readymades on easily… so let’s call that Chaos Element No 3.  I’m thinking watered black silk puddling on the floor would be a bit special…

With that I will sign off, as I need to plan how to create these curtains on a budget, but so they don’t look it.  All this from just one pot of paint…



Clerkenwell Design Week

Decorating, Exhibitions, Experiences, Interior Design, interiors, lighting, Soft furnishings

This past week has been the industry hotbed that is Clerkenwell Design Week.  I spent a day perusing the offerings, and some of these products caught my eye:


The lighting show was held in Fabric nightclub, which meant that they could be displayed brilliantly.  There were a lot of ‘repeat’ concrete shades around, but a few designs stood out:


This beautiful light by Lomas Furniture has a shade of pierced ceramic and looks like the moon…

More lighting which caught my eye came from Pad Home.  This was totally organic in shape, made from cardboard and reminded me of large wasps nests (in a beautiful way)…



I found some gorgeous surface textures at Solus, some were slate with what looked like lasered patterns on them:


They also had gorgeous 3D hexagonal tiles, and can supply simple ones in a huge range of colours.



The highlight of my visit was finding this sink, however the price tag is eye watering .. it is the Brockway by KOHLER.


It comes as 1/2 or 3 tap sizes, and reminds me of a cattle trough.  Prices in the UK where I can find it are £2K plus, so maybe not for now… I am devastated!  Maybe I can convert a real cattle trough instead?



I also saw this beautiful building in Clerkenwell, it looks like Fred Flintstone built it with rough hewn stone frontage in areas.  Absolutely smitten!

10 Practitioners I love…


This is a piece I had to write for mu Uni blog… I think it’s interesting to really look at how you are inspired by previous designers…

Imagine you are going to curate an exhibition on the history of your discipline. Compile a list of 10 practitioners (or specific pieces of work) that you would include and write brief notes on why:

Interior Design has some key practitioners over time, and here’s my top 10 of who I would include:

Furniture designer  (1718 – 1779)

​Not just a cabinet maker, but also an interior designer, and the creator of one of the first ‘catalogues’ of furniture for buyers from all markets and walks of life.  This catalogue defined ‘good taste’, meaning the buyer feel that they were able to participate in upwardly mobile and socially acceptable ‘tasteful’ behaviour if they had the money to buy the furniture.  A wealthy working class businessman could buy the same piece of furniture that an aristocrat owned, creating feelings of upward mobility.  This meritocratic business acumen by Chippendale made him incredibly successful, and is an early example of inspired mass marketing.

Michael Thonet (1796-1871)

This chair can be seen as the first ever flat pack piece of furniture design, and is still in production today.  Thonet pioneered new techniques of laminating wood to create mass produced furniture for the first time ever, and created designs that could be shipped in pieces and assembled onsite.  Like Chippendale he created catalogues for customers, so that pieces could be ordered from anywhere in the world.  These could then be shipped cheaply in large quantities as they took up less space when in flat packs, and he even owned his own transportation services.  Chair No 14 is one of those pieces of design which everyone recognises, creates historical connotations and reflects the importance of industrial mass production.


Fashion & Home Designer (1925-1985)

A Welsh fashion designer and businesswoman. She originally made furnishing materials in the 1950s, expanding the business into clothing design and manufacture in the 1960s. The Laura Ashley style is characterised by Romantic English designs — often with a 19th-century rural feel — and the use of natural fabrics.  Although not to everyone’s taste, her designs, like Chippendale’s, transversed social class boundaries due to their relatively low prices and popular styles, and anyone of any class could become the owner of the rural English idyll.


Interior Designer & Curator (1929-1998)

David Nightingale Hicks was an English interior decorator and designer, noted for using bold colours, mixing antique and modern furnishings, and contemporary art for his famous and wealthy clientele.  His extremely strong use of colour palettes and patterns is still seen as inspirational to the designers of today, to the point that some of the colours he ‘evolved’ and used are still named after him.  I am including Hicks in this list specifically for his use of bold swathes of colour, which become almost abstract in their intensity.

david-hicks_orig methode-times-prodmigration-web-bin-ac234c8f-7349-3761-9a2b-54b7e3cc16dc_orig

Architect, Designer, Interior Designer (1892-1970)

Rolf Engströmer, was a Swedish architect, interior designer and furniture designer, and a representative of Swedish grace, the Swedish interpretation of the Art Deco style.  His entrance hall at Eltham Palace is a masterclass in Art Deco linear design, with every detail and piece of furniture made for the room in 1933.  His work embraced the new modernist approach to design.  His work is important to me in that it signifies a historical change in direction in Interior Design both with an aesthetic and architectural focus, and you can relate it to development of artists in other fields at the time.

Architect & Interior Designer (1869-1944)

Lutyens was an English architect known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses, war memorials and public buildings.  He would also design furniture to fill his house designs to complete his vision, and promoted the arts and crafts movement with the most natural and raw state of materials exposed and celebrated.  He could be seen as the ‘mash-up’ architect in that he would mix architectural styles as he felt fit, and so created a postmodernist, non-judgmental approach to architecture at the time.  For this reason, he is in my list.

Decorative Artist & Designer (b1949)

Annie Sloan is a British artist, colour expert and author. After studying Fine Art at university in the 1970s, Annie Sloan went on to write several books on traditional paints and decorative painting techniques, starting with The Complete Book of Decorative Paint Techniques in 1988. She developed her own line of decorative paint “Chalk Paint” in 1990.  From this she developed the ‘shabby chic’ look which has been prevalent for the last 20 years in home decor.  Some may curse her for it, but the mass appeal of the style shows how people buy into a look and follow it slavishly.  As a result it has been copied worldwide by manufacturers which shows the cultural significance of her work.  The actual recipe of her paints is an age old tradition harking back to distemper and lime paint which has become very limited in use, yet she has resurrected it hence inclusion on this list.

Photographer, set designer, interior designer (1904-1980)

Beaton was a multi talented designer across several disciplines, who created theatrical interior spaces.  His use of clashing colours and patterns show a return to colour after the austerity of the second world war, and he used to introduce ‘the vulgar’ into the traditional, sort of like the punk rocker of interiors at the time.  His clientele tended to be the aristocratic and the famous, who let him run riot in their homes.  His theatre, ballet and opera sets are inspirational, and still used today by The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera House in productions.


THE DANISH -HYGGE  (Collectively)
Late 20th century onwards.

Hygge (/ˈhjuːɡə/ HEW-gə or /ˈhuːɡə/ HOO-gə) is a Danish word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. This covers an entire  interior movement of white interiors, sheepskins, natural materials and pared back interiors.   There is no one designer associated with this style, but given it’s enduring popularity I think it is worth including.  Like Shabby Chic, it appeals to the masses in that it is easy to achieve and promotes an appearance of ‘good taste’ and ‘style knowledge’ but is relatively easy to replicate and purchase off the shelf. 

Phillipe Stark, Designer (b1949)

This chair takes a subversive action, from mimicking a royal chair made for Louis XVI, and subverting it into modern day use.  It has sleek lines, can be stacked 6 high and is mass produced,  and takes the essence of the original into a postmodernist form.  As Starck himself said, the chair “has a mix of materials and styles based on our shared memories. We all own this piece in a way.”  This chair to me is rock’n’roll, and so included in the list.