Kia Designs is a multi-award winning luxury interior design agency founded by interior designer Kia Stanford. As Creative Director and Head Interior Designer, Kia offers a comprehensive design consultancy, providing unique residential interiors for discerning private clients, as well as selective commercial work. Known for combining modern and traditional styles with a unique creative ability, Kia’s style is unrivalled in her creativity and ability to successfully fulfil a client’s brief. She talks to us about the inception of Kia Designs, what a typical working day looks like for her, and why good storage will never go out of fashion…
What led to the inception of Kia Designs and what was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your own interior design business?
I had previously been running a design studio from a store in Islington, the owner had been in the process of fully transitioning to New Zealand and it seemed like a good time to take the leap – except it was December 2008 and we were in the midst of the worst recession in quite a while! The biggest challenge wasn’t actually getting projects, that happened very naturally, it was actually making sure that clients fully understood the service we were offering and how much we could do. For me dispelling the ‘changing rooms’ vibe at that time was quite the challenge!!
Can you talk us through what a typical day looks like for you?
Our office has free breakfast for everyone on a Monday and so we are able to kick off the week with a great start!
Our studio uses a huge amount of online systems and apps that allow us to manage a vast amount of projects from all around the globe. So before I have even got in to the office I’ve usually checked in on all our projects through our online project management service, make sure no changes need to immediately happen to the day’s schedule. Once that’s all done I can start on my tasks for the day and itinerary which, again, is all online. I can also view the itinerary of all my team and make sure everyone has all the information they need to be able to enjoy their day and get the most out of it.
I’m usually in the office by 9.15am coffee in hand and run through about an hour or two of emails, usually to setting up new client meetings and making sure that everything is running smoothly. My team and I usually run through all our projects and set site meetings a few weeks in advance. Our projects are all over London, Surrey and Kent at the moment so we make sure that we are able to check in with the contractors every other week on site as well as daily through our online project management tool.
We often run through schemes, layouts and client boards mid-morning as it’s when we have the most creative juices flowing. We will bounce ideas around, play with schemes and pull together items. Leaving at least one member of the team to collate these together for the clients together with the budget.
In the afternoon I usually head to one of our sites I will make sure I have a full charge on my phone and often our DSLR so that we can capture every stage of the project. Once on site we run through with the contractors and update all team members if there are additions or changes. Keeping everyone on the same page! Essential when you have so many projects on at one time. Once I’ve finished up on site I usually grab my gym bag and head off to either yoga or pole fitness classes. I find both really help to energise me at the end of a long day. Especially if they come with a cocktail after in Soho or Shoreditch with friends!
What are your top three interior style tips?
My first interior style tip is always – do you! This is your home and you don’t need to be on trend you need to be comfortable and feel relaxed at home. It maybe a little more of a challenge to find accessories if they aren’t the hot colour for that season but it will be worth it.
Secondly, be fearless. Listen to what you really need not what you might want in the spur of the moment.
Thirdly, good storage will never go out of fashion. Always make this a focus.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Do two things every day that scare you.
How would you describe your own interior style and what is your favourite room in your home and why?
My interior style focuses on texture and pops of colour. I love layering textures to create a contemporary but fun palette. I adore our lounge, our sofa is so comfortable and has the most beautiful view of blossom trees and blue sky when you look out. It is equally calming in both summer and winter. I never tire of a good view.
What is your most treasured possession?
This is such a tough question. On a day to day I would say I can’t function without my iPhone but I wouldn’t say it’s particularly treasured. I’m not one for holding on too tightly to the past.
You’ve just discovered a time machine that can take you to either the past or the future, what year do you go to and why?
I would definitely do a Marty McFly and head about a decade in to the future pick up some good tips…or see if we as a planet are all still here and if we’ve gotten our act together yet.
If you weren’t an interior designer what would you be?
A yoga teacher, it has often appealed. Seems so unbelievably zen.
How would you spend your perfect day off?
My favourite meal of the day is breakfast. We have a fantastic cafe near where we live that do a great breakfast – French toast and compote. Followed by lovely long walk down through Greenwich, spot of shopping, a gorgeous lunch with friends in Soho with a glass or two of wine. Then back home to cook a healthy meal with my husband before heading out to a few of our favourite beer spots in the evening.
I tend to keep myself pretty busy during the weekend and my downtime is very precious to me.
What’s next for Kia Designs, can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
We are working on a huge house in Surrey, I can see us taking on more large scale refurbishments with architects and house build companies. They are often the most rewarding as you can completely change the way in which they use a home ready for the next generation