Designer Profile: Jacqueline Fisken Design Director of Ampersand Interiors

Name: Jacqueline Fisken

Company: Ampersand

Position within company: Design Director


Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc):
Having graduated with an MA(Hons) in English Literature from Aberdeen University in 1988 I took a traditional apprenticeship at an established interior design company in Edinburgh called Dunedin Interiors. I came on board with Ampersand as a start-up in 1991 and carried out a management buy-out in 1993. While remaining a small practice focussing on a highly personal service, Ampersand has grown over the years developing a core team of experienced and talented designers. I have continually pushed the boundaries of interior design to keep at the forefront of the industry, ensuring that we are as skilled and imaginative technically and logistically as we are creatively, covering interior architecture, furniture design, and ensuring a complete service from the drawing board to the final installation.

How would you describe your personal interior design style?
Eclectic and layered – whether it is a mix of pattern, colour and texture or a combination of old and new pieces.  To me this always results in a more interesting and individual interior.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
My obsession with colour and texture means I am constantly taking pictures whether it’s of distressed paint on an old door or an amazing picture at a gallery.  One way or another those colours find their way into my schemes.

 In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
There is a real move away for monotone modern grey schemes towards darker and perhaps slightly more colourful interiors.  With more pattern and detailing interiors are getting more interesting.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.

Maximalism – there is a real trend for mismatching more colours and textures than we have seen recently.  Arts and Crafts – this is a big trend with designers such as Morris/House of Hackney really forging ahead.  Sophisticated rustic charm – we are seeing more cottage style interiors but with a more grown up sophisticated edge.  Sustainability – we have seen clients keen to retain and reuse older pieces.  Home offices – for obvious reasons have become a real trend!

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
Balance – you can include almost anything you love in a scheme so long as you balance it with something of the same colour or scale.  Just remember to add something that doesn’t ‘match’ to ensure the scheme has interest.

How important are The International Hotel & Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
Hotels should be valued as much for the design of their interiors and how these reflect the character and location of the hotel, as they are as destinations. Many of the skills that are relevant in residential and commercial design are interchangeable and raising the profile of designers helps ideas, inspiration and talent to flow between the sectors.

What projects are you currently working on?
Refreshing a major Edinburgh restaurant; incorporating a new brasserie-style bar within an established French restaurant; two entire Georgian townhouses; and a number of smaller residential projects.

What was your favourite project to work on and why?
The Whittling House hotel which has been shortlisted has been great fun to work on. Being privately owned the design has very much been anchored in the location and the ambitions of the owners for a laid-back luxury that showcases Northumbrian food and drink. This has enabled us to have far greater scale and variety than is sometimes the case with residential design, but with the individuality and charm that is not always possible in larger more corporate commercial projects.

I also loved working on the recent design and installation of a luxurious entertainment suite in the basement of a historic house. With a pool room, bar and cinema room accommodated within the often quirky spaces of the cellars, this was a technical challenge that made the stunning results and the appreciation of the client all the more gratifying.

What was your most challenging project to work on and why?
Funnily enough that entertainment suite was pretty challenging.  The complications of vaulted ceilings, 3’ thick walls, stone floors with multiple cables and pipes to conceal behind fabric covered, studded walls was complex!!

Which products/services could you not live without when designing?
Fabulous lighting – the difference properly designed architectural lighting or a great lamp can make to a room is amazing.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
In the current environment people are increasingly appreciative of their surroundings and their home as a refuge. I hope to continue to help our clients create environments that reflect their personalities, showing how truly bespoke design produces individual and unique surroundings while providing a place of sanctuary. Hopefully travel can begin to get back to normal and I would like to think we can contribute to designing destinations with style and integrity.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Home and family are most important to me so pretty much everything revolves around them.  Beyond that I always look on the bright side and believe it is possible to resolve any problem. Whether it is an interior design dilemma or a challenge with the homework, there is always a solution!

 Your most treasured possession?
A painting I have of the rooftops of Edinburgh by artist Louis Sinclair McNally.  It includes views of the areas in which I have spent my adult life, incorporating the beauty of Edinburgh along with the industrial elements of cranes and high rise buildings which are a wonderful counterpoint.

Your favourite holiday destination?
The Ile de Re in France.  Such a beautiful little island with a picture perfect port and fabulous markets and brocantes to rootle in. 

Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?
The Gramercy Park Hotel, New York – from the roof top bar and restaurant to the fabby rooms.
Rovi – Ottolenghi’s latest restaurant in London and an experience from arrival to finishing your last mouthful.
The Canny Man’s – a very much loved bar in Edinburgh.

Your favourite book, film & song?
Book: Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
Film: The Lives of Others written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Song: I Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin

Your favourite food and drink? Steak frites and red wine

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
An amazing beach walk with friends, family and dogs

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
A lady of leisure!

Ampersand Interiors have been shortlisted for Hotel Under 50 Rooms – Europe Award in The International Hotel and Property Awards 2021 

design et al only work with the world’s leading designers.

If you think you have what it takes to complete in The International Design & Architecture Awards, submit your application by clicking here.

How to Apply The Categories