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Nothing says luxury like a Kelly Hoppen design… With 40 years’ experience at the forefront of her industry, London’s world-famous queen of interiors boasts an A-list clientele. The design doyenne talks to Angela Sara West about her illustrious career, her styling tips and business advice, along with her secrets to looking fabulous at 57!
Her big break came at sweet 16, when her father’s friend asked her to design his kitchen. “It was my first assignment and I haven’t looked back since. The passion grew stronger and the projects bigger!”
Having achieved iconic status, Kelly’s contemporary stamp is emblazoned on numerous high-end properties, private jets and superyachts, along with countless commercial projects, worldwide.
Constantly in demand, Kelly is currently working on around 50 international projects and, whenever she’s not donning her design hat, she’s working on product designs for her online store, writing books, or championing entrepreneurs and investing in innovative new businesses. She also recently collaborated with Lord Alan Sugar and has a plethora of projects in the pipeline.
Design philosophy | Famous for her taupe color palette and minimalist taste, the internationally acclaimed interior designer typically works with neutral colors, a trademark of her vintage-inspired “East-meets-West” style.
“I like the palette’s simplicity. Not only is it easy to work with and pair different colors, textures and fabrics to, it also screams luxury. These tones complement any splashes of color or excitement you want to add to the room.”
Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration… | Along with her home town, London, Kelly’s trips overseas always influence her work and have played a key part in her success.
“Travelling brings me so much inspiration! I travel to such wonderful places through work and everywhere inspires me. I travel regularly to the Far East, America and Europe for work. I love the Eastern philosophy, sense of tranquility, harmony and way of life. I also adore Europe. Places like Paris have such fantastic culture, people, food and sights… always inspiring. Among my favorite Parisian restaurants are Le Voltaire and the chic La Société. I also love Italy, particularly Positano, Capri and Florence.”
New York is a regular stop on her hectic travel itinerary and one of her favourite destinations. Other recent business trips include travels to Mumbai and Moscow, a place that she loves and where her residential collaboration with YOO, in the city’s prestigious Golden Mile, has been heralded as one of the most exclusive addresses in the world.
One of the flame-haired Queen of Taupe’s latest projects, One Shenzhen Bay in China, is an extraordinary venture, on a scale never seen before. Taking timeless luxury to the highest level, it boasts her iconic design philosophy of sleek, crisp lines and a subtle fusion of Western and oriental details. Using inspiration from the most renowned metropolitan cities, the four show flats are themed on Hong Kong, New York, Paris and London. “Hong Kong is high up on my list of favourite places. It’s such a vibrant city and I feel very at home in China. I love The Upper House hotel in Hong Kong and PuLi Hotel and Spa in Shanghai.”
Closer to home, Kelly designed Barcelona’s ‘talk-of-the-town’ boutique hotel Murmuri. “It was great! Working with the Majestic Group was incredible.”
Life up in the air & on the ocean wave… | With her relentless travels, does she have any travel tips? “Pack wisely, especially for a business trip, ignore any jet lag and stay in the time zone that you’re in. Read a great book, watch a good movie, use a good moisturizer and drink lots of water. Amazing food and great company help, too! That’s about all you need.”
She has, however, had to overcome one of her travel bugbears… “Overpacking. I am the most organised person in the world but I have previously been guilty of overpacking. Now, I take my time when I pack, so I’m careful to take just what I need.”
Kelly was also brought on board to design the new cruise ship for Celebrity Cruises. The brand new transformational Celebrity Edge will set a new standard on the market, thanks to its state-of-the-art and revolutionary design. “The concept of designing individual rooms on the sea was irresistible,” she explains. “We were inspired by the notion that it is possible to sail away from the demands of modern living and retreat to a breathtaking space with an endlessly changing view. It was exciting to explore the precise balance between the excitement of travel and the comfort of a luxurious personal space.”
Fit’n’Fab at 57 | Stylish Kelly’s a firm believer that age doesn’t matter. “I’ve never thought about it. This is why I’ve always been honest about my age.” The flawless inspirational style icon never fails to look amazing, despite her full-on schedule. “My daughter has taught me how amazing an alkaline lifestyle is. Honestly Healthy recipes and daily exercise make the perfect duo for me. Also, Dr Joshi looks after me. As for skin care, I love Linda Meredith’s facials. Sleep and drinking loads of water are essential with my workload.”
Striking a life/work balance is especially important to her. “I work out every morning… it helps set me up for the day. I work in a very focused way and when I finish, and at weekends, I relax and recharge my battery, unless filming. I’m lucky…a great team of people behind the scenes help me balance everything.”
Kelly, who is Hollywood actress Sienna Miller’s stepmother, says she always finds time for loved ones… “They’re the most important thing.” But her business is also very important to her, so is never far behind. “There’s a lot to do but I enjoy every bit of it and my family and amazing team’s support makes things a lot easier. I think it’s about working hard, putting all that you have into your projects 95% and making sure the 5% relaxing time is the most incredible holiday or time out!”
Work hard, play hard! | When it’s time for that well-deserved R&R, South African-born Kelly hits the beach: “I have such a hectic schedule, so my downtime is very valuable to me to recharge. I like to spend time travelling and have visited many beautiful parts of the world. I love a beach and some real relaxation. I head to the LUX* Island Resorts in Mauritius (which I designed), Mykonos or Mallorca, which is lovely. I adore the island’s little shops, restaurants and people”.
She’s also a big fan of Ibiza, where she celebrated her 50th birthday in style, renting a villa for her family and friends, including a few famous faces. “I celebrated with all my loved ones. Great food… fantastic wine… even better company… I couldn’t have asked for more! There’s some truly beautiful scenery, especially in the north. I love La Paloma Italian restaurant… the food there is amazing. There’s also a place called Café B on Formentera, which is fantastic!”
Home styling tips from the top! | In Kelly’s eyes, cramming a room full of different colors can overcrowd it. “A room is a beautiful thing, a space to make your own, and I feel that neutral color palettes always complement best.”
According to Britain’s first lady of interior design, the most important element for transforming the ordinary into the show-stoppingly extraordinary is to go the extra mile. “It’s not always about designing the room to perfection, but looking at the project as a whole and how everything works together. The finishing touches; artwork… lighting… photographs… right down to the scent of the room, are vital. Art and personal stamp are key.”
Getting the lighting right is crucial, she says, helping to set the tone. “More styles mean more mood choices, so always plan more than you need. Natural light is always best but isn’t always an option, so beautiful lamps and uplighters help bring a room to life.”
“Revamp. Give your home a second life with a lick of paint or shuffle around existing furniture. It’s possible to substitute expensive materials with more affordable ones which are just as sophisticated, and mix textures to result in a high-end look.”
What should no home be without? “A dash of personality…your home is YOUR home and should fit your lifestyle like a great pair of jeans, so make it feel that way. No-one wants to live in a show home; fill it with photographs of loved ones and personal touches.”
Life in The Den & gongs galore… | Having clocked up four decades in the design industry, the interior goddess’s unique flair has won her numerous accolades, including the “Oscar” of the industry, the Andrew Martin Interior Designer of the Year award. She said her greatest achievement, however, was receiving her MBE for her services to interior design. “It was a huge honor to meet the Queen and be presented with such an award.”
As a former Dragons’ Den investor, does Kelly miss her time as a TV ‘Dragon’? “I loved filming Dragons’ Den! I’m really pleased with the investments that I made as they’re all doing really well.”
She reveals the secret to her success is actually quite simple; “Hard work and passion. I love and am proud of what I do, so it’s easy to put all my efforts into it. I work equally hard on every assignment; they’re all so different and unique. When each is finished, I get a sense of immense pride.”
Kelly says she has no career regrets. “I’m happy with how things have turned out. I’m very fortunate to have a great business doing something I love and any mistakes in the past have been nothing but a learning curve to get me to where I am now in my life!”
There is plenty to look forward to from this inspirational interior designer in 2017. “I am working on many exciting projects around the world and can’t wait to share these with you. I have just celebrated 40 years in the industry and have never felt so in love with my job or excited about what is to come!”
Setting up a business? Kelly’s top tips… Kelly Hoppen | Her advice for entrepreneurs? “Do your research, know your market and your unique selling proposition and be credible. If you have a dream, chase it. Stick to your vision, be creatively inspired by everything around and follow your gut. Most importantly, have self-belief. If you don’t have faith in your project or yourself, how will anybody else? If you have confidence in your ability and designs, paired with determination, you’ll go far!”
FACTBOX: Kelly designs her own range of luxury products for the home in collaboration with Resource Décor as well as her e-commerce range retailed on www.kellyhoppen.com. She is an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, cultivating young talent and inspiring young people to pursue their business ideas, and also for the UK Government’s GREAT campaign, which showcases the very best Britain has to offer. Keep an eye out for her latest book, House of Hoppen.