Discover CovetED’s Exclusive Interview with Karen Howes ⇒ After being part of a completely stacked Davidson Studio, CovetED sat with the renowned interior design Karen Howes on a contemporary dining table that set the mood perfectly for an interesting, compelling and a quite educational conversation. We started off by discussing her professional and, of course, the emotional path in design. Karen told us the Taylor Howes Studio has been up and running for 25 years now, and that she even lectures interior design to a global scale, but these opportunities were quite rare when she started. She started by selling properties in Westminster, London and her interior design path began with the purchase of one flat, by the age of 19. With that flat, she learned it all. She learned how to set a wallpaper, how to make curtains, how to decorate. Adding this to the fact that she was living with Martin Waller, the founder and owner of the world-renowned furniture store Andrew Martin, we can see how the love for interior design came to be.
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In Karen’s opinion, Taylor Howes is defined by its core and supportive values. Passion, honesty and kindness. That’s how one of the world’s greatest interior designers defines the studio. When they have the opportunity to work with clients who share the same values with them, the process becomes smooth, as if they’re on a design journey together.
“I think that as a team we work onto what our core values are. And when we work on projects with clients that have the same values as we do, it’s a very smooth and interesting process.”
For Karen, sharing these same values is an extremely important project-accepting criteria. In the designer’s opinion, the best projects come to existence once you share an emotional connection with the client when you can feel their will and just go with the flow.
‘’I think that once you’ve got that connection, that relationship, then it’s a very smooth process. And that’s when you end up with the best outcome, the best end project.’’
25 years have passed since the launch of Taylor Howes, and Karen now feels like a kind of curator and editor of the studio. Whenever she meets with the clients she already has a clear vision in her mind. Above all, Karen sees herself as open to new ideas, new concepts, new designs. She has 30 team members working non-stop in the studio, always seeking the best ideas, but Karen’s always the first client. Before the idea is presented to the client, it has to go through Karen, so that she, with all her experience, can guide the project to the way it was meant to be: a pristine Taylor Howes project.
“I have 30 amazing, talented team members in the studio. They’ll bring me ideas as well, but I’ll say I’m the first client in the studio.”
Trends come and go, but good design stays. It is not everlasting, as nothing is, but for Karen, a designer has to have the confidence to predict what the trends will look like. The uber-talented designer remarks that they can’t simply design with the current trends, thus they’ll be outdated when they finally reach the market. The solution? Planning and projecting three-four years ahead.
“I think when we’re designing, we’re designing three-four years ahead of what the market will have. We can’t do what everybody is seeing now because It will be out of date by the time it gets to the market.”
When asked if there was any type of project that would impersonate Taylor Howes identity, the designer simply said no, there isn’t. In her mind, the studio can’t be characterised by a simple project type, as it is constantly evolving. As though some people go to different studios to get, in Karen’s opinion, ‘’prescribed looks’’, the ones who seek Taylor Howes’ services can expect nothing of such.
“I would say we don’t, because, for me, I’d say that our last project is our best project. We’re not static, as a studio.”
In Karen’s perspective, a designer should at all times feel challenged. In her opinion, every day is different once you’re constantly challenged. For Karen, what drives her is the absolute passion for beautiful things, which doesn’t allow her to simply stand still. For her, the best projects are the ones when they get involved in the early stages when they meticulously plan the space and the outcome. Whether it is a developer’s project or a private client, the most important (and her favourite) part of planning the project is the space planning. In her opinion, every project must have good bones to put everything together, otherwise, it’s almost like a cover-up job.
“To be honest is space planning. Everything stems from that. If you got good bones, and good structure, then everything adds to that.”
Lastly, for Karen, taking the same steps in every project is a colossal mistake. Every single one is different and that’s probably what challenges Karen the most. Karen exemplified it by telling us about a project at an old War Office in Whitehall, London, and every single room provided a different challenge. And they’re about 87 apartments.
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