Nina Campbell joins us for the latest instalment of Curated By…
Establishing her eponymous company in 1971, Nina Campbell has spent five decades working in interior design. Today, she’s considered one of the UK’s most in-demand designers.
Here, Campbell shares her design wisdoms, some hard and fast decorating rules, plus other useful tricks of the trade…
How did you first get into design?
I always loved decorating my bedroom as a child and spending evenings moving furniture with my mother. My first job was at the General Trading Company where I did the wedding lists for people. This really ignited my lifelong passion for table laying and entertaining… I then went to work for the wonderful John Fowler where I learnt a huge amount and had such a wonderful time before striking out on my own!
What is your design philosophy?
My design philosophy is to really listen to the client and observe their way of life – do they have children; dogs? Do they entertain? How do they use their house? Is it their house they live in all the time or a holiday home? And most importantly… where is it? Obviously a London house or a house in the English countryside is going to be hugely different to a house in Jordan or Italy, for example. I also like to make clients homes as comfortable as possible as ultimately that is what we all want our homes to be.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I suppose I would describe it as being suitable to the environment around and practical for its purpose. Practicality, proportion, and suitability are key! Classic with a contemporary twist and hopefully relevant and considered.
Talk us through some of your favourite design projects to date…
Well I very much enjoyed doing a large house in Maine for a family with a lot of activity going on and huge enthusiasm. What I enjoyed about it most was not only did we design the house but we designed all the accessories, all the lampshades, the china, the tables, the beds… finished every product and accessory with intense detail.
I am also very much enjoying doing a house in Jordan for the second time, now that the children have grown and we are adapting the house for the needs of grownup children having done it a few years ago when the children were young. I really enjoy knowing a family well enough to be able to move them on into a new phase in their lives.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I think you get inspiration through the joy of travel, seeing different architecture, different art and surroundings. Different colours, textiles, and way of life. If you keep your eyes open you really can find inspiration everywhere you go.
List some designers and/or makers you really admire and tell us why you admire them…
I have enjoyed working with Tom Falkener on a couple of projects and I like the way you can use his work with contemporary art which I have done recently in Greece, but also some older pieces of furniture to enliven them as his pieces are fun. Also in the same vein, Julian Chichester – because it is important to me to be able to make bespoke furniture for clients.
Some of your favourite places to shop for homewares…
I love Guinervere, I like Cox Lighting, and I recently went to this wonderful shop in Carmel, California – an incredible linen shop called Jan de Luz where they monogram everything while you wait!
What are some tips you have on how our readers can bring a touch of Nina Campbell magic into their homes?
Look hard at your china cupboard and maybe revitalise your table with some coloured glasses for water. It’s amazing what a difference refreshing your dining table can make and it is a lovely way of changing things without necessarily spending a fortune. Lampshades, look at your lampshades as there are so many wonderful lampshades around now, especially hand-painted ones. James Mcwhirter does the most fabulous crazy painted lampshades as does Sarah Blomfield. The right shades can make a room and also make a huge difference season to season, as do cushions.