Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher
When it comes to designing interiors, Ms Kit Kemp is something of an authority. Having created New York's Crosby Street Hotel, and London's Charlotte Street Hotel and Covent Garden Hotel, among others, she also co-owns Firmdale Hotels with her husband, Mr Tim Kemp, and is responsible for the interiors of all the properties. There are currently seven in London and one in New York, with Ham Yard, a major new London property, currently under construction. She's now written a book, A Living Space, which allows a glimpse into the design process that produces her unique interiors. Ms Kemp recently discussed her work and shared her design tips with MR PORTER.
What kind of designer are you?
You have people who love details, and love to have everything in their cupboards all lined up. Then you also have very architectural designers, and then there's another kind, like me, interested in texture and fabric, and the material aspects of things.
When you design rooms do you consider whether they are masculine or feminine?
I do. It's interesting, because women don't really like to spend time in very masculine spaces whereas men don't mind a space that has more of a feminine edge to it. I don't mean all flowery, but they feel very comfortable with a bit of colour.
Do you design a hotel room differently from the way you'd design a domestic bedroom?
I don't think there should be a huge difference between a hotel room and a bedroom at home. Both should be fun, both should have a bit of drama, and both need to be comfortable. And you need to get the lighting right in both.
How do you make a room special?
I love contemporary things, but when you put older things into a room people want to go and pick them up. It's something to do with the workmanship, because new things don't have much gravitas.
A Living Space by Ms Kit Kemp is
published by Hardie Grant Books
What gives you the courage to press on with your more vibrant colour schemes?
If you put together your inconsistencies then they start to make sense. It's only if you allow input from everyone else and start doubting yourself that it goes wrong. Even if you're painting the walls and people say they don't like the colour, you have to say that it will work in context, once the other things are in place. Having said that, do make sure that the colour on the chart is the same as the one in the pot, because often they bear no resemblance to one another.
What's the most important thing in a room?
Lighting is really important. You've always got to think about where the sun is coming from, and that's whether you're in a basement or on the top floor. What's it going to be like in a thunderstorm, and what's it going to be like in summer and winter?
And what's the second most important thing?
The plugs. You have to decide where your bed is going to be in a bedroom, so you can sort out all your plugs. Don't necessarily put them at ground level, otherwise you'll be crawling around; it's better to have them at waist level. And it's better to spoil one tiny bit of wall with lots of plugs than to have them interspersed around the room. You have to think about where you're going to plug in your computer and your iPad.
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