When I was invited to take part in the Grand Designs room set competition in May this year I knew I was going to have a whole lot of fun. Grand Designs Live is one of the most exciting and innovative interior design shows in the UK. Some of the most talented interior designers in the world take part, and it is always an inspiring day. Every year I have attended, whether as an exhibitor or visitor, I have come away bursting with new ideas from interacting with such creative, amazing people.
Inspiration from fantasy locations
The theme of the room set competition was ‘Famous places that never existed’. A number of exhibitors took part, each designing a room of a fantasy home. Among the rooms were a study, dining room, lobby, bedroom and bathroom. Some amazing literary and mythical locations were used as inspiration, including The Grand Budapest Hotel, Neverland and The Secret Garden. Our entry was a bathroom inspired by the lost island of Atlantis.
Playing with light
The challenge when designing the interior for a sunken palace is giving the convincing impression that it is underwater! This was the first task I put my hand to. The deep ocean is a gloomy place – this isn’t what I was looking for. I wanted dappled light, like when the evening sun hits the shallow water of a Mediterranean cove. I achieved this through a gorgeous, water-like floor, which was reflected by brightly polished gold bathroom accessories. The central Victorianesque bath tub and golden washing basins were pure decadence, shimmering under the light of a spectacular glass chandelier. The chandelier was possibly the craziest lighting fixture I have seen for years: a bioluminescent globe, with glass and brass tendrils radiating from a central hub. You would have to see it to believe it.
Monaco Interiors head, Joanna Lopez and Kevin McCloud
Classical Greece meets Fin de Siècle Europe
The classical beauty of Atlantis was another theme to play with. I included an old Greek bust and a shimmering piece of almost psychedelic art inspired by classical sculpture. The room set was framed with Doric columns. This tied in very nicely with the glamourous classical pretensions of turn-of-the- (20th)-century, Edwardian Europe. Inspired by the dilapidated mansions you still sometimes see across continental Europe, I used shabby chic wallpaper in stone grey and white. This further amplified the fluid, shifting light in the room. A tiled wall mirror put the finishing touches to the room set, diffusing the light even more and making the space appear much larger than it was.
It was a great pleasure to be selected as one of the finalists of the room set competition, and I have been blown away by all the positive feedback I’ve received. It is always an honour to exhibit my work among such talented designers and I look forward to taking part in the competition again in 2017.