Interview with Clair Strong Interior Design
We spoke with interior designer, Clair Strong, on where she gets her inspiration for commercial projects. http://www.clairstrong.co.uk/
1. What made you decide to become an interior designer?
My parents share an interest in interiors and built their own home which was very inspiring for me, so I’ve always had an interest in design. I studied creative subjects from school onwards - art and design, textiles, merchandising and interior design as part of a business course. But it was only after a career in various arts and media industries that I took the plunge with an interior design diploma.
I think the thing that really helped me decide to pursue this career was an opportunity provided by a previous employer. They were aware of my passion for design and asked me to design and manage the refurbishment of a rooftop maisonette. I was then asked to design and project manage the relocation of an advertising agency to new city centre offices, and it all took off from there.
2. What would be your ideal design project?
A chain of boutique hotels in the UK and Europe!
3. You visited Maison D’Objet in January, what are your go to places for inspiration?
I try and visit as many design shows as I possibly can throughout the year. They are a great place to see new products, trends and innovations in the field. My absolute must-visit is the London Design Festival which is a week of pure inspiration every September. Blogs and interior magazines are great for day-to-day inspiration. I particularly love seeing images of real homes and how trends have been incorporated in a very practical way. The things that surround us are a daily influence; shop, bar, hotel and restaurant design, fashion, architecture, even nature. Innovations in technology are also hugely inspiring - it’s incredible to see how everyday products like glass, concrete and rubber are being used in new and exciting ways.
4. What would you say are the top 3 differences between a commercial and a residential project?
The principles of any design process remain much the same, regardless of the project. You have to consider how the space will be used and how the people using the space will respond to the design. The key difference is that a residential project is for an individual or family and a commercial project may be for a brand. In residential projects, it’s all down to personal taste, but in commercial projects I usually have to work with the company’s existing branding, although this may not be apparent in areas such as a show home, or independent businesses.
Commercial projects such as show homes are designed with the target market’s taste in mind. In commercial projects you also have to be particularly mindful of issues such as the Heath & Safety of the works themselves – particularly if a space is in use while you are refurbishing. It’s important to consider other factors such as the wear and tear on furniture and interiors being much greater in a commercial environment as a rule. You also have to look at things like flooring slip ratings and so on - you have to be very particular about what is specified for commercial use.
Residential customers may sometimes be more involved or particular about the choice of furnishings. I might be designing their main home which they will use every day for years, so this often means they invest more time and thought into the choice of their furnishings.
5. The Juice Bar in Bath is fabulous. How did your approach to sourcing materials for this project change, bearing in mind the regulations regarding health & safety and food preparation?
Thank you! The juice bar owners worked alongside me with this project and advised on specialist things such as the choice of equipment and preparation set up. The juice bar had previously been a café and so some kitchen facilities were already in place.
With areas such as the flooring, we chose a non-slip, easy-clean floor that was attractive, practical and hardwearing. The same applied to the tables and stools. Counters and surfaces were specified with hygiene and durability in mind. We had attractive Perspex boxes made especially for the bar to display the fruit used for the juices.