Interview with Naomi Cleaver

Curtsey of Stuart Higgins Communications
During my stint as a guest blogger at Grand Designs LIVE 2011 last week I grabbed the exciting opportunity to interview interiors guru Naomi Cleaver.

I asked her questions about Eco friendly design, breaking into the interiors industry and the items she cannot live without.

1. What is your favourite interior trends this season? 
Craftsmanship, Quality and Britishness.

 2. If you could only re-decorate one room in the house which one would you choose/invest in? The bathroom, but it needn’t be all rain showers and jacuzzi baths: just simple and beautiful.

3. What advice would you give to a new/trainee interior designer starting out in their career? Don’t confine yourself to the design studio: get as much experience as you can on a building site so you can learn how things are put together. The tradesmen and craftsmen you work with during the rest of your career will appreciate it. And remember, you never stop learning.

4. What would you look for in a new junior interior designer? 
An ability to listen carefully to what people say, and don’t say, and the willingness to think laterally. 

5. What is your design pet peeve? 
There’s a question! Tastefulness, beige and dull conventionalism on the one hand and “bling” and decadent vulgarity on the other.

6. What are your top 3 items you cannot live without? (does not have to be design related). Sadly, my Apple computer. Books (plural, so is this allowed?). My food processor.

7. Rich oak wood flooring or luxury carpet? 
Depends on the context. Carpet is always nice in a bedroom. And I especially love carpeted restaurants: much quieter. 100% wool carpet is best with a jute backing. However, some can be allergic to the dust carpet can trap so a hardwood flooring like oak is better in this case, so long as it is FSC.

8. What would you say is the most important element of interior design? 
Getting the brief right in the first place. This takes careful thinking to properly identify the problem in hand and then evaluating the resources available and appropriate to solving that problem. A well thought out brief is the foundation of every successful project, and is often the result of excellent communication between designer and client – a truly collaborative process.

9. When designing a room for the home, what are one of the things we can incorporate in our scheme to make it more Eco friendly? 

The best thing to incorporate is sensible thinking. Ask yourself first whether you really need to do what you think you do and whether you really need to buy what you want to buy. I suppose we are back to getting the brief right: perhaps there are better ways to achieve what you want to achieve? This is the best protection against “green gloss” too, companies that try to sell their wares on the basis of them being “eco”. And remember, all too often “eco” and “beauty” are rarely muttered in the same sentence – and yet something beautiful will always last longer and be cherished than something that is ugly, even if it is “eco”.

For me the most “eco” investments we can make are in those things that a) we really need b) will last c) are beautiful d) can be easily repaired e) are manufactured  and delivered sustainably, both in terms of the environment and society. 

10. Make do and mend or out with old and update with the new? 
Always mend and update to improve performance.

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