In the Frame | Kelling Designs
Emma Deterding of Kelling Designs hosted our October shoot in her stunning London showroom, we sat down for a chat to hear more about her career as a world renowned Interior Designer.
Having admired each other on Instagram during lockdown, we were thrilled when Emma Deterding of Kelling Designs suggested she host our October photo shoot in her beautiful showroom in Langton St, Chelsea. Emma’s background as the founder of one of the first Concierge agencies was where she developed her reputation for tip top customer service, from shipping Marmite to Tokyo and nappies to Kenya to managing and decorating up to 100 properties in London, she grew the business and eventually sold it in 2006. Kelling Designs followed and was born out of Emma’s previous experience and talent for Interior Design. You will see from her website that her projects are varied and spectacular from the private rooms of the Jockey Club to beautiful residences all over the world. We were excited to meet her, and to hear more about her interesting career.
EMMA, WE ARE BLOWN AWAY BY YOUR USE OF COLOUR IN BOTH YOUR SHOWROOM AND YOUR MANY IMPRESSIVE PROJECTS. ARE THERE PARTICULAR COLOURS THAT YOU USE MORE THAN OTHERS?
Emma: Thank you. Colour has been something that we have been playing with for years now, and like everything, as you become more confident with something you really start to push the boundaries. I think the showroom in the back office is our most punchy to date - it is literally saturated with orange. I hope people don’t find it overwhelming! I find it a really joyful space, and all colours go with orange. Orange really is the new black! We try to use it as much as we can. We also love teal blues and emerald greens.
WHICH PROJECT WERE YOU GIVEN THE MOST FREE REIGN ON AND WHAT DID YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT IT?
Emma: We are incredibly lucky with all our clients. They understand that if they pay an interior designer because they like their style and use of colour then they would be sensible to take the advice they are given. So on the whole, clients will be lead and guided by us. With years of practice we are dab hands at gently manipulating them to do what we want. I have worked on several projects where clients has quite literally handed us the keys, discussed the budget and walked back 5 months later! I am not sure I do really enjoy those projects, as I prefer to do the creative thinking with the client and for them to really enjoy the journey and process with us.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR HOUSE. WHAT PART OF DECORATING IT HAVE YOU HAD THE MOST FUN WITH?
Emma: I am incredibly lucky to live in a beautiful house in North Norfolk that was built in 1450. It has lots of old beams and panelled walls. The house is not large, with only 4 bedrooms, that we have done up in a fairly neutral colour palette. We used lots of traditional furniture and fabrics made quirky and interesting with flashes of colour. Where we are blessed is that we have three very large 15th Century barns attached to the house creating a quad. I have tried to make them totally different from what you might expect! In our party barn, where we can seat 100, we have graffiti and coloured lighting with multi coloured columns and lots of really bad taste things which make me smile, that couldn’t be more different from the traditional Norfolk house. We have a fabulous bar area which I love being behind – you get the best conversations from behind the bar! Perhaps I missed my real calling.
YOUR HUGE DELHI PROJECT LOOKS INCREDIBLE ON YOUR WEBSITE. PLEASE TELL US A BIT ABOUT THAT?
Emma: Our Delhi project was one of the most privileged things that I think I have ever done. I worked with so many super talented people from George Saumerez Smith at Adam Architecture through to the amazing craftsmen on the ground in Delhi. The house took us nearly 5 years to build and was over 16,000 square feet. We had a JCB digger on site for the whole build but it was never used in anger! Everything was dug and built by hand - the digger was merely a washing line for beautiful saris that the women who worked on the site washed every day. George’s design was a perfect replacement for a Baker Bungalow in the centre of Lutyen’s Delhi. It was classical but modern, elegant and refined, yet it really made a statement. Everything was finished to the highest standards – all by hand with lime rendering on the exterior, marble floors, araish plaster walls, jail screens – a real testament to the craftsmanship that still exists in India.
YOU OPENED YOUR SHOWROOM IN LANGTON ST LAST YEAR, AND THEN COVID STRUCK THIS YEAR. YOU ARE CLEARLY VERY PROACTIVE, POSITIVE AND CREATIVE WITH YOUR BUSINESS, BUT WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ADAPT TO THE UNFORESEEABLE CHANGES THAT YOU'VE BEEN FACED WITH AND HOW DO YOU KEEP IT FRESH?
Emma: I think I will look back and see that Covid was the turning point for our business. It gave me a chance to really look at the business as a whole. The girls were furloughed and safe at home and it was necessary for me to get deeply involved in every aspect of the business. It is a multi-strand business all feeding off the design, with retail, management, and furniture rental, so I was able to see exactly how far we had come and look at where we were getting it wrong and how to simplify. With the help of Liz – the money woman! We went through every aspect of financial planning and I actually had the time to look and absorb. It will take time to get back to our lunches, dinners and talks which we so enjoyed last year. So many people came to the shop, and hopefully enjoyed it, but I think we have to accept we are where we are and embrace the new online life. Interestingly we have never sold so many headboards and online is getting busier and busier – I think Covid has just fast-tracked our use and trust of online platforms for people that weren’t previously comfortable with it. I now do the majority of my meetings on zoom, skype or teams and I am very comfortable with it, which 7 months ago would have been unheard of.
To answer your question of how to keep it fresh, we change it up the whole time. We do very limited runs of things and lots of one-offs, so once they have gone, they have gone and it is time for something new. We sell lots of glass and bits which I am constantly moving around which drives the girls mad but they look so different in every space.
WHAT'S THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE SOMEBODY STARTING OUT IN THE INTERIOR DESIGN INDUSTRY TODAY?
Emma: Be patient, Rome was not built in a day! And you have a lot to learn however good you think you are! 30 years later I am still learning and still surprised at what I don’t know. You are only ever as good as your last job and never believe your own press. Humble is always best – taste is ever changing, try to be timeless. Whoops - that’s more than one piece of advice but I think it’s all useful stuff!
IF YOU WERE TO CHOOSE ANY ADDISON ROSS FRAME, WHAT WOULD IT BE, WHAT IMAGE WOULD YOU UPLOAD FOR US TO PRINT AND FIT FOR YOU AND WHY?
Emma: Why wouldn’t you choose an Addison Ross Frame? They are all gorgeous and all your other products too. I love all your brightly coloured collection but I think for the photograph I am thinking of I would choose one of your enamel frames in a softer colour. The image is of my grandson at his christening this summer, when we could still have 30 guests, with my daughter and her godmother – my oldest and dearest friend Frances. My son chose to make Frances a godmother to his son, which is a lovely circle and shows the importance of family and friends.
Thank you Emma for spending the time with us and of course for allowing us the use of your gorgeous showroom for our last shoot!
To discover more about Emma's work visit her website www.kellingdesigns.com
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