Choosing to be happy
April 4, 2014
March 2, 2021
Five designers left, and five seafront beach huts in Walton on the Naze in Essex on the North Sea coast of England (wet and very windy at the time of visiting). Each with very specific decorative briefs as set by the owners. Requested styles for interpretation varied from Club Tropicana and Fifties American Retro to The Hamptons Revisited, Ice Cream Sundae and Home from Home.
As they’ll be working alone, for some this will be a reprieve from having to collaborate with anyone else, for others, it’ll be a shock to be running the show alone for only the second time in the competition (first was in Show homes). Either way, this is an opportunity to have some fun. It’s a small space with limitations on how much ‘rebuilding’ can or needs to be done. Instead this is a moment to revel in the many possibilities of decoration. Not to be too clever-clever for the sake of it.
Bottom line, a beach hut is for holidaying and relaxation. A home away from home, and a compact little world for escapism. It needs to focus on being pretty (or striking, or magical, or any other adjective you care to insert), but also super durable and practical — this is the English seaside after all, not the Mediterranean.
This is probably the most important lesson of all. Life is simply too short to spend vast chunks of it labouring at something you don’t enjoy. For sure being a designer can be extraordinarily challenging, but if you get a thrill from dreaming up new spaces and solutions, then you ride the curve balls and difficulties with a degree of acceptance. They become a small part of a much bigger joy. As Marc Anthony was reputed to have said, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
However, interior design can be particularly taxing. Especially at the beginning of a career. It digs deep into so many aspects of our characters, which can feel somewhat conflicting as it pushes and pulls you in many different directions at once. To possess a creative sensibility I think already puts you in a more ‘sensitive’ camp than many others — in terms of a heightened awareness of all things around. And then interior design is more than just ‘creativity’. It’s project management, people management, logistics and a lot of work that has to happen in your head just in order to get started! This is why some succeed and others do not.
An interior designer has to constantly strive to get the absolute best out of themselves, but also be able to let go and admit when something does not work. They need to be diplomatic and persuasive, yet also firm and authorative in order to get everything done at the speed, and to the standard, required. It’s a lot. And at this stage, our IDM designers are finally starting to understand the depth and breadth of what the profession really entails.
Sophie Robinson is rightly known as the Queen of Colour and how to use it well. She is a high-energy, fully-loaded on the pigment type of gal, with the enthusiasm and chutztpah to back it up. #banthebeige is her hashtag and only the sort of brights you’d find in a child’s paint box are what light her personal fire. Nevertheless, she’s keenly aware that this is not a look for everyone, and her quest is to encourage everyone to discover the colours that really work for them personally, and she’s devised several brilliant online courses to help them do just that. You can find all the details on her website.
Her nugget of advice to anyone starting out in design? “Colour is one of the most powerful tools in an interior designers kit. It has the ability to ignite emotions, switch up the mood, and when budget is tight, it’s fabulous at distracting the eye! But so many people are afraid of it. So as a designer, make it your mission to bring forth the transformational joy of colour!”
Viewing: Rains olive green wind’n’waterproof raincoat; dark brown Uniglo padded jacket (I was super cold!); navy MaxMara wool jumper; Paige jeans and dark brown (ancient) Prada boots. Dressed for the anticipated rain storms.
Judging: Alice + Olivia turquoise silk shirt; navy Philip Lim jacket; Victoria Beckham flared jeans; turquoise metallic Prada peep toe heels.
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Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.