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Talking luxury interior design with Roselind Wilson

This year marks 10 years since Roselind opened the doors of her luxury interior design studio, Roselind Wilson Design, in the leafy residential area of Queens Park, North West London. Despite low-key lockdown celebrations, Ros is as passionate as ever about her small, dedicated team and the studio’s residential design projects. Here she chats about her 20 years’ experience designing outstanding homes, stunning hospitality interiors and beautiful spaces for discerning clients.

Tell us about your career journey so far

I’ve had such a colourful career journey to date – all of which has brilliantly contributed to the where I stand today. Although I had always had the intention to run my own interior design studio, the path was not a direct one. I worked in the marketing and publishing industries for a several years early on in my career. These roles were invaluable in developing my communication and negotiation skills, as well as honing my administration skills which are relevant to any job. The biggest learning curve for me was how to navigate working full-time, studying a Bachelor of Commerce degree through correspondence, studying an interior design diploma, and renovating my own apartment, all at the same time! I look back at this phase of my life now and ask myself: were you mad?! But in essence, little did I know just how well that experience was in equipping me with the expertise to deal with the diversity of running my own business effectively and managing its growth and expansion through challenges and obstacles as well as balance a multitude of day-to-day tasks.

What made you decide to open RWD?

Opening my own design studio was always my dream and something I had wanted to do from a young age. One of my projects at senior school allowed me to design my own school building and so I devised the Alessandra Nouveau School of the Arts and designed the building itself, the school syllabus, the uniform, the application form, etc. This drive and attention to detail was always within me and as I travelled through my school career, my creativity developed and the desire to become an interior designer with it. It was only after I had worked within the industry for 10 years, gaining experience and accolades at some of London’s most prestigious design firms, that I felt ready to make the leap to opening my own studio. I launched my design studio in February 2010.

Were you always interested in pursuing design?

Yes. Ever since I was a child, I have always been trying to find outlets for my creative expression. I would crochet, knit and sew and have also dabbled in modern dance lessons, teaching myself how to play musical instruments, taking pottery lessons, and anything that would allow me to express my creativity outside of my school curricula art classes. I added a creative spin to all school projects and assignments before embarking on a career path that would lead me to studying interior design and opening my open business.

What is your favourite part of the design process?

Gosh – you would think that by now I would have a definitive answer for this! The truth is I love what I do. The nature of how I do it changes though as I progress through the evolution of our company (our studio celebrated its 10th birthday earlier this year!) but from whatever vantage point I stand – it’s all exciting and incredibly rewarding.

I love meeting new clients and hearing their stories and taking this and translating it into a beautiful home. In achieving this I love researching design ideas, finishes and materials and working with my incredible team to realise a stunning interior. I really enjoy sourcing and learning more about new products as this allows us to design better for our clients and I love working with fabrics and finishes to bring an interior look together. And then there is the installation and handover to the client. It is such a sense of relief to deliver a beautiful home to our clients and experience their joy and satisfaction at the journey taken together.

What are the highlights/challenges in working in the residential market?

Designing homes in the residential market is extremely rewarding. You develop many close and trusting relationships with your clients and some of these will be nurtured into longstanding friendships. However, this close proximity to your client can present challenges as boundaries can be blurred and the divide between friendship and professionalism can result in you doing more work than what is required in your contract for no fees.

Are there major differences when designing for homes, compared to hotels?

In recent years there has been a trend towards designing homes to feel like hotels and more recently to design hotels to feel like a home. These two sectors are closely entwined but design for each is very different. For hotels, budgets are usually fixed as the design is heavily impacted by return on investment. Running in parallel with this are the time scales as vacancy ratios impact profit margins for hotels so any refurbishments must be carried out very quickly. In addition, durability of materials is extremely important in hotel design as turnover of patrons has an impact on the materials used and replacement is costly. In residential design, budgets, timelines and fit-for-purpose materials are all of equal importance however for private residences the design process is very tailored to the exacting requirements of those that live there and inevitably the timescales are much longer and the design detailing is very specific.

What’s your go-to source of inspiration?

I take inspiration from everything around me – be it a walk in the park with the changing seasons or a painting in a museum. I believe that interacting with one’s environment is very inspirational. I also derive a lot of inspiration from fashion and love to visit bookstores with a great selection of magazines and spend hours engrossed in the pages of the latest fashion issues. In these magazines are brilliantly styled images which exhilarate and inspire me.

How do you switch off after a day’s work?

There was a time when I viewed commitment and dedication to my job as working long hours but through trial I’ve proved that working effectively and maintaining a good work/life balance are a much healthier approach and so when I leave the studio I am now able to switch off and into my home life. My evenings are spent running, walking my dog, or making dinner whilst listening to some great music and unwinding.

Tell us about one of your recent projects?

I’m sometimes told I can be a bit verbose so being given free reign to talk about a recent project can be a daunting task as we have so many great clients and projects that a paragraph or two may prove a challenge to me! But I’ll do my best. We have a wonderful client for whom we designed their London residence several years ago. With a primary residence in Suffolk they wanted their London residence to feel calm, serene and pristine. To feel like a plush getaway from their more rural abode outside London. We had such a wonderful journey with them and so it was an absolute joy and privilege when they contacted us to redesign their Suffolk residence. As their primary residence outside London, the brief was very different to the first project that we carried out for them as they wanted the look and feel to be more laid back with a softer, textural appearance. Dating back to the 1400’s and therefore having original beams of 1500mm high in some areas, this listed property had many interesting quirks which we allowed to play out in the interior scheme. Although no structural changes took place, we completely redesigned the bathrooms and kitchen to bring the look more up to date without losing the property’s inherent character and charm, befit to its heritage.

Are you currently seeing any trends in the luxury residential market?

In the current climate of uncertainty where change and adaptability are inevitable, now more than ever, clients are viewing their homes as their sanctuary. Trends are steering more towards spaces that allow greater utility in the home, such as a return to the home gym for both workout and yoga spaces. In the search for balance and calm, we’re seeing more clients requesting spaces for meditation as well as the ability to be able to relax and unwind in well designed bathrooms with baths (previous trends saw a focus on large showers with excellent water pressure). The home office has greater significance as we become more accustomed to working predominantly from home. Comfortable, well-designed ergonomic workstations with good internet connectivity are imperative as we look to the future and the merging of home and workspaces.

What’s the best piece of advice you’re ever received?

There are several gems that I live by and which are worth noting here.

When I started my career in the design industry, I was given the savvy advice not to assume anything. Assumptions lead to mistakes or errors that cost money to resolve when wrong. Don’t be afraid to ask if you are uncertain about anything!

The next gem I received was – there is always a solution. Find a way. Think out the box but know – the solution is there.

What’s next for RWD?

In these challenging and unpredictable times, our immediate strategy is to ensure continued growth of the company by constantly reviewing and streamlining our internal processes and procedures. It’s important to adapt quickly and with a small, effective team, thankfully it’s possible to do that. I’m a big thinker, big dreamer and so I always have plans for the next step but for the immediate future, we’re looking forward to moving our small team to new premises at the end of the year, and continuing to nurture the relationships we have with our wonderful clients and suppliers.

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