As part of our drive to support up-and-coming design talent, we host a yearly interior design competition for students studying at KLC School of Design. The 2021 competition brief was to transform the ground floor of a 200-year old rural cottage into a functional living space for a couple and their two teenage children, and create a place where they can work from home, exercise, and home school. Narrowing it down to the top three schemes was a tough decision and it was great to see so many different ideas all using the same space. We caught up with the overall winner, Claudia Ambrosi, to talk about her winning design.
Congratulations on winning the 2021 KLC X AMARA competition – how do you feel?
I am incredibly pleased, honoured and a bit shaken with the result. With so many other strong and wonderful entries, I could not have believed beforehand that I would end up as the winner. It took me by surprise. Entering the competition was an amazing opportunity to put into use the skills I learned during the first year of the Foundation Degree at KLC, which gave me the right foundation to succeed in the competition.
Where did you find inspiration for your design?
Mostly from the research about the location in the heart of Hampshire and precedents of eclectic interiors. The natural landscapes of the South Down Forest provided inspiration for the earthy toned palette, while the architecture of the cottage encouraged me to create a warm scheme that would make the family feel connected with the outdoors, with lively pops of colour balanced out by more subtle ones. For the final touches and the furnishings, AMARA inspired me a lot too, thanks to the variety of styles of the furniture, lighting, and accessories available.
What did you find the most challenging aspect of the brief?
The spatial planning was not an easy task, that’s for sure. Accommodating two separate home office stations, a living and dining area for six people, plus an area dedicated to exercise really pushed me to test different layouts to find the one which would work the best and have the right balance. The sunlight and orientation of the cottage also had to be taken into account. As there were two west-facing windows, it was important for me that one of them was used to brighten up the home office, and the afternoon sun is ideal for this. The large door/window overlooking the rear garden with the south-facing light was, without a doubt, the ideal place for a more social space to entertain family and friends, which is why I found it natural to locate the dining area close to the existing kitchen. The space that remained to be allocated was the living area that I placed in one of the areas of the ground floor without much natural light, which I tried to brighten up with warm and colourful materials and adequate artificial light. I can really say that natural sunlight has inspired the final layout.
What was your favourite area in the house to design?
The whole cottage was incredibly exciting to design with its heritage and architectural features. If I must pick one area, I think the living room was my favourite area, because I wanted this space to be cosy as well as social to encourage the whole family to gather in the evenings around the fireplace. It is here where I combined the botanical patterns in the rug and wallpaper with pops of colour to make the space feel cheerful and full of character.
How would you describe your interior design style?
I think my style is a bit eclectic as well, which is why I think the tastes of the family in the brief particularly suited me, but my style is more of a blend between Italian elegance and Scandinavian practicality. I strive to create contemporary environments with sustainable materials, without compromising on aesthetics and functionality.
Who or what are your design influences?
My Italian origins have definitely influenced my attention to quality and durability when choosing furniture, flooring and materials. As I am now living in Sweden, the Scandinavian culture also plays an important role in keeping my ambition of creating sustainable schemes with recycled and upcycled materials with a low carbon footprint. As for who inspires me, an architect from the past that I admire is Gio Ponti who was a visionary designer, who was so creative and bold in his projects. From the present, Boxx Creative, Studio Milne, Studio Ilse, Norm Architects and Note Design Studio are designers I admire for their projects, which are always impeccable in providing the end users with memorable experiences.
What’s next for you after graduation?
I still have some time left until my graduation in 2022, and until then I am planning to keep working hard through the Foundation Degree course, learning from my peers and amazing tutors. Alongside studying, I'll be working part-time job in Interior Design and Sales for the Danish furniture brand BoConcept, and I am looking forward to providing my customers with unique and characterful design schemes. After graduation, I am hoping to begin my journey for real in the interior design industry with focus on commercial design. I find the shaping of retail and workplace spaces very fascinating, and it is important for me that they are functional and can reflect a brand’s values and identity.