This month we sit down with one of London’s most sought after interior designers, Naomi Astley-Clarke to find out where and how she finds her inspiration when designing for each individual client. She also chats with us about her beautiful new Town House project in Shepherds Bush and her favourite places to eat and drink in her local area.
We love hearing you talk about how your designs are individual to each client and bringing out their quirks; how do you get to understand each client’s personality before you create their design?
Ensuring that we exceed our clients’ expectations is at the heart of everything we do. Our designs are intelligent, uplifting, and exciting and our space planning is second to none. We vigorously protect our clients’ privacy, and our small team ensures that we deliver a unique and personal service. The majority of the work I undertake is from referrals of past clients which is the highest form of validation and endorsement that a designer can wish for.
The beginning of a project all starts with the brief. Get this right, and you're on your way to a successful project. You can't just listen to a brief, you have to actually "hear" it. Pushing clients at an early stage to the edge of their comfort zone, but being mindful to their overall vision and wishes. I think about integrating their existing loves and passions, from art and nick-nacks to how their children’s sports kit is going to be used and stored. I've been known to measure up and draw up a particular prep school rugby bag so that I could ensure three boys' kits could be properly stored.
I always love to go through images that a client has pulled together at the beginning of a project, whether its tearsheets from magazine or a Pinterest board they’ve put together, even if the photos bear no relationship to the budget or the barebones of the house. It’s so helpful to get an unrestricted idea of their dreams and wishes before budget or time constraints or planning constraints come into it. I love it when a client brings their own ideas to the table – it is the soul of what we do. I take into account all of their passions and quirks so the final design really couldn’t belong to anyone else.
Everything that I create is bespoke to a client - from a shoe closet being tailored to their exact shoe size to the layout of their kitchen pantry - and in order to do this you have to get to know your clients and their families well. It goes without saying that you also have to look after their money and be completely trustworthy - my clients know they can tell me anything and I will always work in their best interest.
In terms of why my approach is unique I think that is for my clients to say but ultimately, I consider myself to be someone who is in the service industry - not a diva who needs to be obeyed. I'm a total workhorse and my clients’ homes are there to make them happy. Of course, I will push them to discover new things and to stretch to the edge of their comfort zone, but I don't ever try to steer a project away from my clients' end vision. I am creating something for them.
Which of your projects did you find the most creatively challenging?
I find all projects equally challenging creatively. I never stop questioning myself and never stop evaluating a design throughout the construction process to ensure that I’ll be happy with the final result.
At the moment I’m working on a pied-à-terre in Covent Garden where the brief was to create as much additional space as possible. With very careful spatial planning I have managed to create an additional guest bedroom but when every inch counts it has required a meticulous attention to detail and constant remeasurement and consideration of the space and design concept to ensure I can deliver the absolute best scheme for my clients.
Shepherds Bush Town house:
What was your main focus when maintaining the character of the original property?
The main focus was ensuring that the design was proportionate and appropriate for the existing building fabric to ensure that every addition looked considered and that the overall design could have been there from when the building was first constructed. I was keen to ensure that we focused on the use of an historically-appropriate pallet of materials and a layering of textures of colours within my design so that the journey between rooms felt natural with no jarring features standing out.
Where did you get your main source of inspiration from?
I was first introduced to this client after they had been to visit a house that I had previously designed. They said that they loved how the project had turned out and that they, having recently bought a house that required refurbishment and a lot of work, asked that I consider undertaking the interior design of their home.
A wonderful narrative of British craftsmanship and quality runs throughout the house. The handmade joinery and kitchen, as well as the exquisite Drummonds bathroom fittings and hand painted murals by Nancy Daniell, were the key 'splurge' items which have brought the whole thing together.
3. How do you balance a design for practical family living with intricate and beautiful interior design?
The brief was to create a warm, vibrant, fun family home which met all their practical needs, but which also captured their personalities. The new house had to work for children ranging from toddler age to teens and incorporate spaces for relaxed family living, as well as more formal entertaining.
Incorporating bespoke details throughout the house created an elegant aesthetic while remaining practical for a family home. I love to recreate the panorama of someone's favourite places or memories. We incorporated wonderful handpainted Savannah scene in the children’s bathroom and also painted a whimsical fairy scene in the nursery. Going bespoke gives you that opportunity to be totally unique – there is something wonderful about knowing that you have created something that only exists in that one place.
My London - Battersea
1. How do you think the Power station development has changed the area?
“It’s added a new dimension to the place and a new tube line – I’ve really noticed how much more connected Battersea is as a result. Of course my daughter also loves shopping there….”
2. What’s your favourite local coffee shop?
“Gails on Battersea Square – it has such a continental feel to it.”
3. If you could eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life where would it be?
“Riccardo’s on Fulham Road – ridiculously good food and a wonderful atmosphere.”
4. What three words would you use to describe your area to someone who has never been.
“Family-friendly, leafy, relaxed.”