Name: Kathryn Thompson
Company: The Silk Gallery Limited
Position within company: Director and chief designer
. Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I loved applied mathematics at school and went on to study physics at Imperial. In my second year I realised that what I really wanted to study was architecture! When I graduated I went to Sotheby’s to study the history of architecture and decorative arts which I loved. I started to work on small interior design projects for friends and ended up working on large scale projects with an in house building company! I could not always find the fabrics I wanted so started to design my own. This side of the business grew and I realised I could not design properties, build and take on a growing fabric company! The fabrics won as this sort of design is very mathematical and building and client restrictions no longer applied. I was free to design as I felt!
. How would you describe your personal interior design style?
My style has evolved with experience, age, and the changing architectural styles over the last 20 years. As a fabric designer it is necessary to design for both modern and traditional interiors in a variety of climates and colour conditions. For this reason we have recently split our collections into 3 categories – modern, classical and textural.
. Where does your design inspiration come from?
No one thing but if I had to choose one, I would say travel. I am more relaxed away from the day to day drudgery of business and more open to the stimulus of new smells, architectural styles, cultural influences, colours etc. Inspiration is not something I look for – it is something that happens in my subconscious so when I return from trips abroad ideas just seem to pop into my head which I then have to put into some kind of order to create a collection.
. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
The development of steel and glass engineering has transformed much of modern city skylines into an architecture of geometric forms enclosed with flat surface and glass. The resulting buildings are devoid of applied detail and the emphasis is more one of looking out. Many home conversions here in the UK feature rear glass extensions and interior design is more streamlined and uncluttered. The new city apartments are more compact, streamlined with a pared down look. As fabric designers we have to ensure that our fabric collections are compatible with the new design aesthetic.
. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to product design, what would it be?
I think it is important to visualise the product in a setting as it is to be used. This ensures that what you design is also practical!
. How important are The International Product Design Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
It is always thrilling to be recognized by others for my work. For me designing is a labour of love and I put a lot of myself into what I do. For this reason I find it impossible to judge the end result so winning an award gives me the confidence to continue doing it!
. What projects are you currently working on?
We have just completed the FOCUS 2015 collection so I can have a design holiday! I am now concentrating on developing and supporting our export agents and distributors. We are also working to update our website which needs refreshing as we find increasingly that our clients find it useful if they can find our new designs and extra colours at the push of a button!
. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Our new collection needs to be promoted both here and overseas. I would like to improve our profile in the Middle East and perhaps exhibit in a trade fair. I will also travel to France and Germany to promote our company there. We need to find new agents/distribution in the USA which will take much time and effort over the next year.
. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession? That is my horse, Zidane, though I don’t know if he qualifies as a possession! I spend much of my spare time on his back attempting to perform dressage movements with limited success.
Your favourite holiday destination?
I love going to Puglia where we have a much loved holiday home. Other than that I love to adventure to far flung places. I have yet to explore South America so that is high in my list to visit.
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?I love fresh fish and Italian food and in Italy we are spoiled for choice! I am happier sitting on a beach in front of a BBQ than in a smart restaurant so I find this question hard. Likewise, I am not that fond of bars with the exception of the round bar at Soho House!
Your favourite book / film / song?
Book: Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel. I loved the plays too. I really got into the characters and missed them when the books were finished!!!
Film: Too many to mention!
Song: I have a thing for Country and Western though I love the opera too so I guess my taste is pretty eclectic.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? (in no more than 25 words)
That’s an easy question to answer – riding!
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
A dressage rider or a vet (which would have saved me a fortune over a lifetime of horse ownership)!!!