Five minutes with Ian Kay

Where, and what subject did you study? 

In 1995 I made the move from the North West to study fashion textiles at The University of Bristol. 

The learning experience was incredible, and so shortly after graduating I decided to continue my studies by completing a Masters at Central Saint Martin’s College in London. 

How did you get into interior design? 

There was no single defining moment – it was more of an organic transition through my design career. 

I’ve always had a passion for interiors and would often notice inventive design solutions in hotels and restaurants, even whilst watching the latest blockbuster movies at the cinema. You name it, I believe I’ve always been subconsciously inspired by my surroundings! 

After I left Saint Martin’s, I started working for an advertising agency in London. Whilst I enjoyed it, I was already developing a passion for interiors. 

When I was living in London, a friend popped over one day and was impressed by the way I’d styled my own home and commissioned me to design theirs. 

I was half-way through completing that job that I picked up another commission – and one way or another, I haven’t stopped ever since. 

It was then I realised I had found my calling and eventually switched careers to interior design. 

I enjoy creating a new atmosphere or mood in a space, but at the same time maintaining the functional purpose of the room, and ensuring it remains orderly. 

What is your favourite room in your own house? 

I’ve just moved to a beautiful Edwardian property in Newark. Full of high ceilings and interesting features such as deep skirting boards; and I can’t wait to get stuck into the whole house makeover. However, it’s too early to say yet which is my favourite room, because currently it’s a building site! 

What is your favourite colour? 

Colour has so many roles to play, depending on the room. It’s important to consider what the space is going to be used for, and on how the natural light streams through from outdoors. Currently a bit obsessed with peacock blue and plaster pink. It will change though! 

Where is your favourite place to go on holiday?

This depends on the season – I love visiting the Amalfi Coast in the summer – the architecture is stunning, and the cuisine exquisite. But in the winter, Paris is my perfect destination. 

What should no home be without? 

Every home should have both a dog and a bar! 

What is your favourite brand? 

My own preferences are Nobilis, Dedar Milano, Larsen and Zoffany. 

However, whenever I embark on a new design scheme, it’s important to establish my client’s style and their design inspiration. I believe it is crucial that I don’t impose my personal style preferences onto my clients – this is their project; I’m just helping to bring it to life. 

What is the most important piece of design advice you’ve ever received? 

Whilst this wasn’t strictly advice I received – it’s an important lesson I’ve learned over the years: Never assume you have a client’s tastes tied down, because everyone wants to push themselves further than they have before. 

Customers should be bold, be brave and be willing to go the extra mile; and as their interior designer it’s my job to take them there. 

Antique or modern, plain or patterned, bold or neutral? 

All of the above! A home has to have a mixture of styles. My personal favourite is to combine antiques with modern touches. No-one wants to live in a museum, but it is nice to have some age and character alongside more modern furnishings, more suited to modern life. 

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