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Interior designer, Naomi Astley Clarke

ON DESIGN, DETAILS AND COLLABORATION.

You’ve been in the game for over two decades. How has your work and the industry itself evolved during that time? And how do you stay relevant?
We work tirelessly to ensure sharp attention to detail and the highest level of finish; only working with the most skilled craftspeople and designers.
As a team, we value integrity, innovation, discretion, and above all the privacy and safeguarding of our clients and their interests.

You’ve mentioned that you value an open, collaborative process with your clients. Are clients more design-aware today?
 I create interiors for my clients, not for me. I love it when a client brings their 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.

I always love to go through images that a client has pulled together at the beginning of a project, whether it’s tear sheets from a magazine or a Pinterest board they’ve put together, even if the photos bear no relationship to the budget or the bare bones of the house. It’s so helpful to get an unrestricted idea of their dreams and wishes before the budget, time constraints or planning constraints come into it.

In the Sloane Square pied-à-terre, what thoughts did the clients bring to the table?
 I was approached directly by the clients, who had seen my work on a previous project and liked its glamorous but liveable style. They needed help to bring a dramatic new look to their London residence, and I was asked to completely renovate and furnish it. A blend of comfort and style was essential. Furnishings such as sofas and beds were of the highest specification. And as they love entertaining, excellent quality music and audio-visual systems were installed, as a priority, in all zones.

We’re huge fans of tactile material combinations and unexpected marriages of textures, how important is it to design towards the sense of touch as well as the more obvious aesthetical stimuli?
 Our living spaces should delight the senses. I use dynamic textures whenever I am designing.

Your projects often involved specific bespoke pieces. Is this an aspect of the practice that’s emerged over time or is designing objects something you’ve always done?
 Everything that I create is bespoke to a client – from a shoe closet being tailored to their exact shoe size, measuring MTV awards to ensure they will fit on a bookshelf, to the layout of their kitchen pantry, and to do this you have to get to know your clients and their families well.

For a designer, bespoke allows the introduction of specialist finishes and materials which can completely lift a scheme – I often incorporate marble and Verre Eglomisé within my furniture designs which provides a unique finish and effect. In addition to bespoke furniture, I also design bespoke lighting for my clients as it can be particularly important to ensure that a decorative fitting is well-proportioned within a space and that the amount of light created suits the mood and aesthetic of a room.

Bespoke pieces are comparatively expensive. However, never underestimate the aesthetic value of a proper fit and, as ever with handmade items, the finish and longevity will far outlive that of high street options. I always recommend that if nothing else, prioritise commissioning bespoke kitchen cabinets and built-in shelving – you won’t regret it.

Switching to Buster + Punch, how did you discover the label?
Word of mouth – someone wise said I needed to have a look at their lighting a few years ago

What attributes does Buster + Punch bring to the table and what’s the reaction from the client side?
 Buster + Punch have such a variety of hardware and finishes which is such a godsend, particularly on large projects. I also love their soap bottle holders which are a brilliant way to tidy a shower space.

We’re firm believers in the power of details as the foundation of a successful project. What’s your take?
 It’s the detail which elevates a project and it’s my role to inject detail into everything I do without making a scheme fussy or overcomplicated.

Finally, in your opinion, what are the three key trends or drivers in UK interiors now?
We want to know where things have come from, we need to know that the things that are bringing us pleasure are not causing others pain – no fast fashion, no plastics wherever possible and vintage pieces and antiques rather than everything new.
Natural natural natural – people are using natural fabrics wherever possible such as wools, linens and cotton. Neutral tones, which never go out of favour, will be very much in the fore in 2023 yet this palette will be broken up with bold patterns on furnishings and artworks.

We love hand-painted wall coverings – whether bespoke pieces by Freddie Wimsett or De Gournay, nothing quite beats a decorated wall. 2023 will see walls with sharp, beautiful and uplifting designs.

[PROJECT. NAOMI ASTLEY CLARKE.]

[PHOTOGRAPHY. PAUL MASSEY.]