Confessions of an Interior Designer

Guest Blog post by Susan Quirke,

1.    How became an Interior Designer
I studied psychology in college but I always had a passion for interiors and even before I graduated I was researching design courses. I moved to Dublin and started working in a museum design company as a project manager & junior designer while studying design and from there I moved to London to further study design and I worked again as a project manager for high end retail such as Calvin Klein, Gucci, Versace, Jil Sander which was my main project and all the high end concessions in Selfridges. By the end of that job I knew I wanted to focus on design so set up my own practise.

2.    What does it entail
People always want to know what does being a designer entail and everyone has a different opinion of what we do from you buy cushions and tell people what colour to paint a wall to you go shopping all day. Design has moved on over the years and designers are multi-tasking and highly technical. On my projects I work on adding extensions to houses, knocking down walls and redesigning the overall space we do get to colour schemes but it’s a long way down the line. I design bespoke furniture and elements such as sinks and light features as well as deal with all aspects of a building project from liaising with engineers and party wall surveyors to managing the whole contractor element of the project. Basically the client gives you a project and you commission all the contractors, manage the process and source all elements for the works so I defiantly spend much more time on site then in Harrods!

3.    Kinds of projects work on
I started working on high end residential and from there I’ve also moved into retail, restaurant bar and nightclub design as well as lighting design.

4.    Inspiration
I love designers who push the boundaries my favourite designer is Fabio Novembre an Italian who designs everything from mosaic tiles to high end retail and crazy nightclubs with aliens and bullet proof glass all shot up

5.    Favourite city
Barcelona – I had never been and a client said I had to for inspiration for his home and I love it because I am obsessed with the sea and beaches and Barcelona is based around the beach and is very chilled out.

6.    Favourite Building
I do love the external of the shard the sleekness of the structure and I used to live five minutes away and could watch it being built from my window as I lived on the 7th floor so I’ve seen the biggest concrete pour in Europe and always found looking at the building coming together to be fascinating.

7.    How get into lighting
Sometimes people tell me I’m a lighting designer but I’m an interior designer first who blends lighting into my projects. I also do stand-alone lighting but the overall interior is my passion and the lighting should integrate into this. I’ve always had a passion for lighting and I just fell into it with clients asking me to do more and more with lighting in the space until I was also working on pure lighting projects.

8.    Project liked to have designed
I’d love to design one of the apartments in the shard as it’s also tricky with the shapes and floor plates or the W hotel Barcelona for the location.

9.    Oddest request
I’ve had many they don’t always come to pass but over the time I’ve been asked to source a stuffed giraffe, learn how to keep jellyfish alive for a large tank, create Miami in the garden of a London home, commission artwork for a lap dancing club as well as source the outfits which was fun!

10.    Typical client
There are no typical clients I’ve worked with everyone from bankers to artists from estate agents to media people and actors and sportspeople. Each client has been very different and each has their own views and request. Ive worked with clients in their 60’s and clients who are in their 20’s as long as they have open minds and trust you then it’s a success.

11.    If not an Interior Designer what would you be
I wanted to be in the police when I was young and now I would love to research dolphins and whales so marine biologist. I see myself on a boat in Mexico or the med talking to dophins.

12.    Best bespoke piece designed
I love the chandelier and stairs I designed for the ice white house they are both very sculptural and dramatic and designing the stairs was a nightmare but worth it in the end.

13.    Craziest client
I’ve been lucky to have worked with some great clients people who want to have a dramatic space and want something different and allow me be creative and brainstorm things that we then have to make happen but I suppose my stuffed giraffe client has to be the maddest- Note it didn’t go ahead in the end but  I did find a shop in Islington that has lots of stuffed things including a polar bear! –that died ethically of course as I’m a vegetarian and mad animal lover.

14.    Maddest moment on site
The most stressful was trying to hook up my bespoke chandelier as the lighting company had left the cable short and it just fitted with a lot of effort for a lot of electricians. I remember being stuck in a crawl way in the attic praying as we pulled it in

15.    Best thing about your job
Working with lots of different people. Every day is a challenge and every client and job are different and while it’s a very stressful job I love how dynamic it’s constantly evolving and growing.

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