Roselind Wilson is a London based luxury interior designer. This design studio has won multiple awards and work on projects around the world. I met Ros and her sister Geraldine at the South African Interior Designers breakfast and we got chatting, a few weeks later and I was at Ros’ studio learning more.
Grant Pierrus Can you describe your interior design signature or style and what is unique about it?
Ros Wilson: We don’t have a particular style but we’ve pinned it down to being more balanced and understated luxury, a lot more paired back that what you usually see.
Our style used to be considered classic contemporary because a lot of our projects organically developed that way. We’re all about understanding the client. Our ethos is the interiors we create are extensions of self.
We learn about and listen to our clients, understand their style and personality to create an interior that suits them. It turned out that many of our clients preferred a classic contemporary style. As our journey has progressed, we’ve had a diversity of clients that come to us from Kuwait, Malaysia, South Africa, Spain, and London too.
This international clientele has allowed us to design more eclectic interiors, although always understated and quite serene. We’re not really bold in colour but at the same time, it’s not monochromatic.
GP: What I really find interesting about interior designers is behind the visuals and focusing on how people actually live in spaces. How has that changed over the last few years for your clients? What are people living with now or wanting in their homes that wasn’t around five years ago? How are your clients’ lifestyles evolving and how are you serving that?
RW: We often design the interior scheme for our client’s’ primary residence as well as their pied-a-terre. A pied-a-terre is dealt with differently compared to a primary residence due to size constraints and so forth but actually, discussing it yesterday (on the Homes & Gardens Designer Insight panel), there is certainly a trend towards our client’s requesting that every bedroom has an en-suite. This changes the dynamic quite a bit.
We’ve also seen a trend of moving away from open plan living. People want more intimate spaces. We’ve had a couple of clients who want to separate the kitchen from their living area so that they can entertain and have their chef behind the scenes.
For example we’ve got a particular client who has a curtain that they can draw across the room to separate the space so they can have their chef preparing dinner while they entertain in a more intimate dining space. The property stretches over six floors and they didn’t want to have the kitchen on another floor.
Our clients definitely want more relaxed living. They want to be able to kick back. In fact, almost every client I see now says “They don’t want that showroom feel.”
GP: There’s a movement at the moment where it seems that people are really relaxing in their homes and lifestyles are becoming more casual. How are you designing for this change?
RW: Yes absolutely. There is certainly a desire for exquisite textures and finishes however there is also a need for comfort and for people to feel relaxed. It’s about layering, comforts, beautiful fabrics, beautiful textures. It’s not screaming, “I’m affluent. I’ve got lots of money.” It’s quiet and understated, the new luxury.
GP: Can you tell me about a particularly challenging project and a particularly exciting project?
RW: Isn’t every project exciting and challenging? We worked in The Bromptons, which is in South Kensington and is the most exquisite building ever. It used to be a hospital before it was converted into apartments. What’s interesting is that it feels quite gothic. A contrast between dark and light architectural elements, which is really just beautiful.
Because of the affluence of the residents, when you start a building project in this property, you’re briefed extensively on exactly what is and isn’t allowed, for example that workmen need to be discreet on site.
We were given a long list of rules that we had to adhere to. In essence, it couldn’t look like any construction work was going on. We had to be very prepared and organised. Logistics were challenging. It took a lot of planning and communication so that everything could move quickly. It was challenging but it was good. We managed it. It was tricky but it was great.
Geraldine Wilson: And tell us about the good stuff…
RW: Well the good stuff is so rewarding! Let’s go back to The Bromptons because it was such a fantastic project. There were many times that we were faced with obstacles and challenges that we worked around or fixed and ultimately delivered a beautiful apartment to very happy clients.
It’s such a great testament to say, “Wow it was hard.” And when a client says you’ve done such a good job and they couldn’t find fault, I shut the door and I go home. I say, “My job here is done.”
GP: Your job here is done, yes. That’s great!
RW: It’s so good. It’s such an amazing feeling to get that from clients because this is why we work so hard, why we shout and scream, gain a few grey hairs… The personal journey with clients and the end-result makes is all worth-while.
GW: I just want to throw my take in really quickly because I’ve only been in the industry now for nearly a year so it’s been quite an eye-opening experience. It’s really about the way clients interact with Ros and the relationship and rapport that builds and develops over the course of a project. That level of detail and advice is what makes Ros such a great designer.
RW: A labour of love.
GP: It’s more than design isn’t it? It’s all about lifestyle. How we live.
RW: I love that though, for instance I have one particular client that phoned me, in fact we had a regular call at 7:00 p.m. each night for about an hour and a half. We just used to talk through every detail of the project to make sure the apartment would be perfect. He would say “Ros, my friends are going to smoke. I don’t smoke. Where should I let them smoke? What window? How many centimetres for standing?” Every detail.
GP: That’s wonderful to have that kind of relationship with your clients…
RW: It’s wonderful to have clients that you build such great relationships with. The project of designing a home is so personal. You become so ingrained in the process and the lifestyle. I want to make our clients happy. I want them to have a house that they look at and go, “Wow. You know what? This is fantastic.”
I want them to feel satisfied but at the same time we also ask for their feedback – about the process, the team. We ask where we can improve. We’re always striving to do better, to learn and to grow.
GP: What about your own home, does it reflect your professional style?
RW: It will do. I currently live in a project! My husband and I bought an Edwardian house in Cricklewood that we will be renovating next year. My favourite colour is green. My former apartment in Brondesbury Villas in Queen’s Park was a soft green and a classic contemporary style.
I think the way that my style has developed now is that it’s more simplified. I love clean walls using beautiful materials, beautiful marbles and then layered metals. I don’t like too many clashes except if you have a striking piece of artwork. It’s changed quite a lot over the last few years because I think as I get older, I start to understand what I really enjoy. There’s a lot of tactile depth to interiors. It’s all about personality. I’m excited to incorporate this into our new house, which will definitely reflect my style as soon as we get rid of all the floral. I mean I love a tapestry but I don’t need to throw florals all over my carpet and walls!
GP: What new up-and-coming designers or designer makers do you have your eye on?
RW: To be honest I try to focus on our own creative journey as I’m very competitive. It’s not healthy for me to be too obsessed with other designers. I get inspired by great minds and the way people think. I adore Andrée Putman’s quirky, individual style. She didn’t give a damn about what anybody else thought, with big thick glasses, crinkle-cut silver hair and sharp tailoring. That’s awesome because she was ballsy and she was successful across interior design, industrial design, furniture design. There’s also fashion, I’m very interested in fashion. Great minds and fabrics!
GP: What’s next for your business? Or your brand?
RW: We are currently refining our branding and our marketing strategy. One of our goals is to launch a brand extension, which is quite exciting. In terms of work and projects, we’re looking at scope internationally as we’ve received a lot of interest however we need to consider it carefully and work it into our overall plan and strategy for the business.
GP: It’s carefully considered.
You can contact Roselind Wilson and her team here.