Designer In Profile: Karin Verzariu of Black & Key

Name:Karin Verzariu Karin-portrait-web
Company: Black & Key
Position within company: Director

Tell us a little about your background
I am an interior designer, trained at the New York School of Interior Design, and have worked in the interior design industry for 30 years, a member of BIID for most of that time. For my UK and international projects I often designed bespoke cabinetry for clients, and from this experience and because I loved doing it, I evolved Black & Key’s collection.

How would you describe your own personal style?
Classical, elegant, sometimes quirky

Where does your inspiration come from?
From Art Deco pieces by Ruhlmann and Frank, from Art Nouveau and the Viennese Secession, from Bauhaus architecture, from Charles Rennie Mackintosh, from great designers of the past, from nature, from Zaha Hadid’s and Norman Foster’s architecture….the list is endless

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
It is surprising how many homes now look like boutique hotels when originally the boutique hotel developed to look like a private home. While many designers are aspiring to a very similar “luxury” look there are a few who are very innovative and exciting. It is a time where designers with enormous talent and expertise seem to be multiplying and that’s just wonderful.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching property development in 2014 and beyond.

1. open plan spaces may need re-considering – is the desire for this going to continue? Do we need some more private areas?
2. colour – use landscape, sea and sky colours to make spaces look more airy and spacious
3. natural and recycled materials – use as much as possible in new ways
4. durability – the age of replacing things that become unfashionable or just lose quality after some time should be over. Think of our planet when designing and specifying. Specify good long lasting quality. Don’t throw things out – if they can’t be re-used as they are, consider ways of altering them or if all fails, give them away to a charity.
5. Lighting – LED and low energy lighting – decorative lighting needs to embrace the new technologies

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to development projects, what would it be?
2 pieces of advice: 1 Make sure the second bedroom will accommodate a king size bed and a fitted wardrobe and 2 make sure towels will dry before being used again. Good heated towel rails are a must.

How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
Having worked with the International Design & Architecture Awards now for two consecutive years and with many large industry partners we believe that the awards provide a great platform for recognition for both established and new businesses within the design community and the wider industry.

What projects are you currently working on?
As interior designers we are working on a penthouse apartment in London of the Strand, a pied-a-terre in the City and a West London home. For the Black & Key collection we are developing new products and new finishes.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
To develop new pieces for our Black & Key collection in a contemporary idiom. We are considering expanding into new areas such as lighting and creating a diffusion collection for smaller budgets.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession? A beloved lithograph by Henry Moore
Your favourite holiday destination? Venice out of season and away from the main tourist sites
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar? Hotel: the old, now defunct Grand Hotel des Bains in Lido/ Venice – Restaurant: E&O London – Bar: The Savoy Bar
Your favourite book / film / song? Book (at the moment): Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver – Film: The Godfather (part 2) – Song: A Kiss is still a Kiss
Your favourite food and drink? Sushi and Vintage Champagne

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
A visit to MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art in New York) assuming I’ve already flown there – or a walk in my favourite London park, Chiswick House.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I would have liked to run my own art gallery and discover new artists

Anything else interesting? I love travelling!