Exclusive interview with K&H Design. The studio is based in west London and was founded by Katie Glaister and Henry Miller-Robinson in 2015. Now with a multi-talented team of seven, it works closely with private clients, hoteliers, and developers to create intelligent interiors. Combining very different professional backgrounds, their commitment is based on providing practical design solutions and creating beautiful spaces. “We approach all projects with energy, honesty, and clear thinking, and aim for nothing less than the best. Responding to our client’s lifestyle, budget, and requirements, we create original projects in the UK and abroad.” – said the designers.
Asked about what they love the most about their work, Henry and Katie answered with their own point of view which is not exactly the same but complement each other. Henry fundamentally loves working in a creative environment that nurtures his aesthetic flare. There’s much more to interior architecture and design than meets the eye and a huge range of skills need to be applied on a day-to-day basis. He adores the process of creating unique design solutions and bringing them to life, particularly through hand sketches during the concept design process.
Katie, on her side, explained to us there are so many parts of the overall design process that she loves. Ultimately she thinks it’s the process of finding intelligent, aesthetic design solutions that really work for the client which makes her love what they, as a team, do. “Clients, a husband and wife team, for example, will often have different tastes and opinions; he’ll love one concept and she another. Our role when this happens is to listen, challenge and develop a refined solution that resonates with them both, which is an immensely satisfying moment. We have a fantastic design team that I feel very lucky to work with and we manage to combine hard work with incredible fun, which I believe is very important.” – said Katie.
When it comes to the most challenging time of their careers, the answers are very different and undoubtedly impressive! From a very young age, Henry’s passion was always to work in interior design. However, on leaving school he had a calling to work for his family’s steel fabrication business. Instead of seeing this as a challenge or an obstacle, he embraced the opportunities it provided him with and gained qualifications in quantity surveying and cost management, as well as time spent in the legal, sales, and marketing departments. “All of this has equipped me better than I could ever have imagined as an interior designer and are aspects of my skill set which I may not have obtained had I gone directly into this career.” – said Henry.
On the other hand, Katie started her career in the financial futures market, followed by a decade-long stint in high-end residential property development, before finally starting K&H. “In all honesty, the most challenging part of that ten-year period was bringing up three children as a single mother whilst making my mark in a dynamic, male-led environment.” – said the designer. Lesson learned, now they, as a company, always try to run the business with this in mind and pursuit more humanized ways of managing it, such as offer more flexible options to their employees.
Henry when asked if he already achieved everything in life, explained that he and all the designers in general work in a world where there is no end of historical knowledge to take in and learn from. In the future, he hopes to be working with artisans and craftsmen around the world, fueling many decades more of creative, considered, and authoritative design. Katie stated that she hadn’t, at all, achieved everything in life. For her, K&H Design has come a long way in its six years, but they want to continue to improve upon and expand the design knowledge and very personal service they offer their clients.
Professionally speaking, Henry picked a very specific moment when he feels fulfilled. It would be the point at which they deliver their project to the client. “Interior design can be extremely complicated and not every project, particularly those in old buildings, can evolve exactly according to plan. However, I’m a great believer in there always being a solution. Coming to the client with a solution rather than a question is most satisfying, and seeing the combination and culmination of these feels like such an accomplishment.” – he said.
In Katie’s opinion, that fulfillment lies in building very close relationships with their clients. “Listening, communicating, and building mutual trust is absolutely integral in enabling us to work closely with them, teasing out and developing their briefs. I also get great satisfaction from the uniquely knowledgeable and collaborative contribution we, through our combination of previous careers, provide to the whole professional team on our projects.” – she stated.
The focus of communication for Henry should be those who are already clients. And with whom they are fortunate enough to have strong professional relationships. But because they have an active outreach to a worldwide network of designers, craftsmen and artisans with whom they engage, their profile naturally, organically develops and we achieve a wider audience. Reinforcing Henry’s first idea, Katie defended that both of them have the same values of honesty and transparency. For that, she thinks it is this authentic approach that builds trust with their audience. “We often use Instagram as a way to connect as we find it can be an interesting forum for both clients and suppliers, creating a kind of three-dimensional dynamic.” – she said. That being said, as a design studio they don’t follow commercial fads and trends that are often seen on Instagram; they ensure that their projects are timeless and designed with longevity in mind rather than ‘of the moment’ trends.
Whilst their interior design service remains front and center of their practice. They are starting to develop products that haven’t been able to find in the marketplace. At the moment, they are working on two collections of stair runners. The first is inspired by heritage textiles, taking ancient crafts and reimagining them. The second collection is inspired by the monochromatic tonal pigments of nature.
“We are always respectful of trends but have a natural love of bucking them. Highly saturated colors are becoming more dominant in the fashion world, for example, and whilst we embrace high gloss lacquered walls, we subtly de-saturate paint colors more and more.”
– Henry Miller
“Our clients are very genuine, highly intelligent people who truly understand that good design needs to follow a process. They are normally well-traveled and cultured, through which they have gained a wealth of design knowledge and influence. Some clients are able to give very clear direction, where others are less so. However, through our process, we have found that they can very quickly identify ‘it’ when they see it. Hand sketching is such a key part of this concept design process.”
– Katie Glaister
In Katie’s opinion about who is running the market of craftsmanship, she pointed to Matthew Bray and Matthew Collins. They led the way to Somerset way before lockdown guided the rest of London to that beautiful part of the world. MB&MC specializes in decorative arts and furniture. They sit behind the world’s leading interior designers and develop truly exquisite bespoke pieces. Their work with paper, glass, metals, a mighty range of timbers, and veneers. For Henry, Rupert Bevan offers a similar breadth and depth of skills. Henry went further in detail and explained to us that Rupert is either designing and creating pieces in his Shropshire workshop or engaging with the retail market from his new shop in Notting Hill. One of Rupert’s trademarks is his work with mirrors.
About the design’s future, Katie confessed that she founds it fascinating to witness the continued uptake, expansion, and refinement of dying skills and craftsmanship. With that, she is seeing the enthusiasm to embrace beautifully made pieces designed to last generations alongside the mass production, so quickly copied, of “get the look” pieces. “Fortunately, there is room in the world for both.” – she said. On the other hand, Henry defends that sustainability has to become more of a focus in the design world. “There are so many interesting takes on the beautiful, cheap pieces Katie talked about above, but we value quality and longevity above all else and ask our clients to invest in timeless and perfectly scaled pieces that last a lifetime.” – he said.
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