A few weeks ago I was invited to meet Michelle Mone. Quite daunting I have to admit, we were to discuss Michelle’s new venture into the interior design sector. We all know Michelle Mone as the supreme entrepreneur who founded Ultimo, the iconic lingerie company, and then sold it a few years ago after building a team of 63000. Michelle’s incredible achievements have also earned her the title, Baroness of Mayfair. So it was very appropriate to be heading to The Dorchester to meet Michelle on her turf.
Grant Pierrus: When did you realize you had a passion for interiors and passion strong enough that you thought about building a business out of it?
Michelle Mone: I’ve been a designer for 21 years at Ultimo but a technical designer, so not just the designer but an inventor too. I think that’s important. 17 inventions, 103 design registrations and innovation was key to building Ultimo.
I built my first home 10 years ago and I didn’t want it to be the same as my friends, so I started to draw and work with a local interior designer and we got all the furniture made by the same suppliers as The Dorchester hotel.
Then after my divorce, I completely designed my own townhouse which was incredible. I think being a designer, you can be a designer for really anything if you’re passionate about it. I have also designed a jewellery range for QVC which has become the number one jewellery collection.
GP: The reason for the interiors above everything else?
MM: “I have a huge passion for interior design” I said to my partner when I met him and he said, “Well I’ve got a big passion about it as well”.
We found an unbelievable designer who worked in one of his homes and we thought, “Right let’s do something different.” Let’s have the architects in-house. Let’s have the technical side of the house, be it the sound, the lighting, alarm systems, the cameras – everything that runs a home, let’s have them be part of our design business. We also have an in-house fabric designer so we can do bespoke fabrics for our clients.
I thought because we’re doing high end design with high net-worth individuals. I’ll interview them to get right into their heads and design around what inspires them and not what makes them sad. What makes them feel comfortable and relaxed. If they’re working from home, why is the office in the basement? The office should be in the garden or in a room with lots of light coming in.
There aren’t many interior design companies that have all of these skills in-house. Designing unique furniture so that your friend doesn’t have the same sofa, and even your own fabrics if we need to. We deal with the planning permission from the architectural side. This is all going to be under one roof and I don’t ever do anything small. I left school at 15 and have always done everything on a big scale. That’s why we’ve opened up the office in the Old Park Lane.
We’ve also opened up an office in Chelsea, the Isle of Man and soon-to-be in Dubai. I’d say our styling is very British, glamorous with a twist. It’s very sophisticated.
We’ve just been commissioned to design one of the biggest homes in St. Barts at £40 million and that’s very contemporary. We’ve also just won a contract to design a seven-story Belgravia townhouse worth £22 million and we’re going two levels below for a spa complex, so our new interiors business is already underway.
We’ve also been commissioned to interior design two towers in Dubai and a shopping mall. This is bigger than the Trafford Center. I think being the Baroness of Mayfair gives people confidence as most of my clients already have homes in Mayfair.
GP: Having all those skills in house is going to enable you to create incredible projects for your clients.
MM: Absolutely and I understand when it comes to inventions, design registrations and why does that matter to the interior business?
We are designing bespoke furniture for clients but I think we will bring out our own line eventually. I understand that there are a lot of designers, very talented ones but there’s a lot that walk about with a sketchbook and they just think, “Oh I just design.” There’s a lot more to it than that.
GP: You are an inventor. That’s great for potential clients, because you can go in and be completely new and exciting and there are no limits.
MM: No limits, we take them on a journey together to create. I’ve been known in the press for 21 years that I created the ultimate bra. I want to create the ultimate home for someone. There’s no point in designing a home that doesn’t suit them because they’re living in it. They’ve got to be inspired in it. They’ve got to feel relaxed in it. They’ve got to feel that they can’t wait to entertain family and friends. I do believe that this business is going to be very successful.
GP: Can you describe your own personal aesthetic? In your own home, do you have a certain style that you can summarize?
MM: Yes, I would say glamorous but sophisticated and quality. Quality is absolutely key, there’s no point in designing something that falls apart. I would say that my style is probably timeless so it will still be there in many years to come.
I’m not afraid to try different things and when everyone else says no that can’t be done I will know if it can be done. The house we’re designing in Belgravia has water coming down the wall, one of the walls in the TV room and goes straight down to the spa. Just wait until you see it.
GP: What is your dream project?
MM: My dream project is something that’s really difficult to do and where we can work with someone who commissions us to do something extraordinary.
GP: Something that really challenges you.
MM: Yes and seeing that we are working for high net-worth individuals that’s the service that we need to be able to deliver. As I’ve mentioned we are already doing the £40 million project in St. Barts and the £22 million project in Mayfair, the massive project in Dubai. The team are already busy.
We’re coming into this world with a bang!
I left this interview feeling so inspired by Michelle Mone. The incredible passion that Michelle has for business and interiors fired me up and I cannot wait to share more from this incredible new design firm.
Visit Michelle Mone Interiors for more information.