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The interview: Interior designer Kelly Hoppen MBE


As an independent 16-year-old with a relentless passion for design, Kelly Hoppen was given the opportunity to design a family friend’s kitchen. This modest commission not only created a teenage entrepreneur, it kick-started one of the most celebrated and extraordinary careers in the design industry.

Kelly’s ever-evolving style is underpinned by a subtly coordinated fusion of East meets West; clean lines and neutral tones, blended with charming warmth and sumptuous opulence.

Kelly is honoured to be the recipient of copious design awards and the proudest point in her career to date came in 2009, when she was made an MBE for her services to interior design. She puts her stamp on the homes, yachts and jets of private clients, as well as select commercial projects the world over, including hotels, restaurants, offices and aircrafts. One of her most recent projects include is a collaboration with Pearl Motor Yachts.

Here is what the award-winning designer and the new Dragon on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, had to say to Adelto’s Assif Majid:


You were born in South Africa, but grew up in London what was your childhood like?

I had a great child hood, I loved growing up in London and visiting South Africa as I got older. My parents were really supportive and we are a close family. The only issues I had when I was young was losing my father at the age of 16 which was very traumatic and having dyslexia which was undiagnosed, it caused a lot of problems at school, I thought I was stupid because I couldn’t write like the other children and it led to some bullying. My dyslexia was only diagnosed when my own daughter was tested for it, she is also dyslexic.


I have read that the style of your grandparents’ home has influenced you – what was their home like and how does it resonate with your personal style?

The style of their home is nothing like mine now. I don’t necessarily mean it influenced me in the sense of my own designs however the textures, smells, colours and fabrics that were used were so rich and gorgeous – it had that ‘home’ feeling that I now recreate in my designs.


How would you describe your design/brand?

I would describe my style as ‘timeless elegance’ meaning that the design will stand the test of time, will not date and will always look chic; simple yet opulent combing the styles of the Eastern and Western world.


Are you seeing any new or innovative trends in interior design?

There are always trends, which come about and some of the interior trends reflect what’s happening in fashion especially in terms of colours or types of prints. Ikat print for example is very in at the moment. However, I’m very much about interior design that will last the test of time, which is why I’ve always stuck to my philosophy and ethos.


In your opinion what makes a great design?

That is a very personal question as every person’s idea of a great design could be very different. In my eyes something that is symmetrical and simplicity is important. I also think home design should be harmonious and make you feel at peace. It also needs to have a balance of textures.


What does the word luxury mean to you?

Luxury to me means fitting into something whether an interior or clothing or atmosphere its all about the feeling you receive from this particular thing, before in the old times it meant expensive but to me it means the above.


Whose home would you most love to decorate/design? And why?

I would love to design the home of the Dalai Lama. I imagine for him, the space would be about the feeling and how you were in the NOW living in a space, which is something I have perfected for my clients. It is not all about the way something looks; it is also the feeling you create, so this would be the ultimate challenge.


You have won many awards, but what does it mean to you to win an award?

I think it depends on the award but in general it’s a proud moment being recognized for your work, a real honour and helps to solidify your reputation in an industry which helps with new clients. When I received the Andrew Martin Award it was great turning point in my career and when I was honoured with my MBE for services to design, wow that was amazing, really one of  the proudest moments in my life.


You also run a design school – can you tell Adelto readers a little about this concept?

I started the design school after the tragic 911 attacks, I did it because sadly we lost a lot of clients and we needed to diversify the business and because I wanted to share my knowledge. I absolutely loved teaching, its an incredible feeling passing on your knowledge to someone else and seeing that person learn and grow.


What is your advice for design students or someone interested in becoming an interior designer?

The only advice I have is to believe in yourself and stick to your vision. Allow yourself to be creatively inspired by everything around and follow your gut. I am forever explaining to people that if you don’t believe in yourself, how is anybody else meant to believe in you? If you have confidence in your ability and designs, paired with hard work and determination – you will go far!


Being a luxury brand how has the recession affected your business?

When the recession first began we had to cut some costs like other businesses and I built my business in a different market. In this recent recession, I spent a long time building my business in China and it worked, we built a big business there.


How do you see your business developing over the next 5 years?

I would like to continue designing projects all over the world. Grow the business further in the UK and abroad, release a few more books and hopefully still work on a great TV show like Dragons Den.


Can you tell Adelto readers a unique fact yourself that no one knows?

I love marshmallows. Only the white ones! If I buy a mixed packet I have to take out the pink ones.


What is London’s best-kept secret?

London’s best-kept secrets are the markets and the people that create the hustle and bustle on London’s street markets.

Kelly Hoppen Interiors, 102a Chepstow Road, St. Stephen’s Yard, London, W2 5QS, England, +44 (0) 207 4713350

The new series of Dragons’ Den will start at the beginning of August on BBC 2 in the UK. Follow Kelly on Twitter.

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August 2, 2013 | Professionals | View comments

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