Designers in Profile: Lauren Matthews and Louise Rea Managing Directors of Matthews Rea

Matthews Rea
Name: Lauren Matthews and Louise Rea
Company: Matthews Rea
Position within company: Managing Director

Tell us a little about your background in design 
Lauren: I graduated from UCA with a First Class BA (Hons) Degree in Interior Architecture & Design. After gaining experience in the industry for a number of years, I established Lauren Matthews Interiors in 2014. As the business grew, Louise Rea was appointed as Creative Director in September 2019 and the company was subsequently re-branded to Matthews Rea Interiors.

How would you describe your personal design style?
Lauren: My design taste has evolved over the past decade or so. I used to gravitate towards neutral tones and taupe finishes, I now appreciate the use of colour in a space and my own home is currently an eclectic palette of neutrals with burnt oranges and dusky greens. Quality is paramount and I would rather invest in a piece that will stand the test of time and potentially become an heirloom.

Louise. My style has always been a mixture of classic and contemporary. I like to mix things up a bit and bring personality into a space. My main emphasis has always been on fine detail and quality whenever possible. I like to research artisan makers and,develop ideas with true craftsmen to bring individuality to my own home.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
Lauren: I am most certainly inspired by trips abroad and the wonderful colours in nature. On a recent trip to Italy, I visited Mount Etna and the colours of the rock were just phenomenal. After returning from this trip, I moved home and used my photographs as
inspiration for the colour palette.

Louise: I also enjoy travel and prefer city breaks to beach holidays so I can soak up local culture and architecture. I enjoy various exhibitions and have a few favourite museums that inspire me when I need some inspiration. Fashion and media shouldn’t be overlooked, they bring constant new energy into our ideas.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Lauren: We feel we have a responsibility as designers to acknowledge current environmental issues and we actively support the sourcing of sustainable items. We take a great deal of pride in selecting products that will stand the test of time and are not fashion led.

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
Louise: Consider the longevity of your project. Chose things that are not only beautiful but will stand the test of time and become family pieces that get passed down. Mix them up with antiques and reuse items, art, furniture etc that you already have. Use a designer to bring it all together!

How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
The International Design & Architecture awards are unique in the fact that industry professionals and experts alongside clients and the general public judge them. This voting system encourages incredible exposure and engagement whilst ultimately attracting a wider audience.

What projects are you currently working on?
We are currently working on a diverse mix of projects, with clients from varying backgrounds and cultures. The projects are mainly located in central London and Surrey, with an exciting oversees project in the pipeline.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Lauren: With the appointment of Creative Director, Louise Rea in September 2019, the business will further expand over the next year to accommodate upcoming projects. We are enlarging our office space this Spring to allow the organic growth of the company.

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:

Your most treasured possession?

Lauren: My Grandfather’s beautifully carved, African-head bookends that he brought back with him from Africa following the Second World War. They take pride of place on my Living Room mantelpiece.

Louise: My grandmothers engagement ring. I cant wear it as it’s a little fragile but it’s just small and simple and rather beautiful and looking at it I see her wearing it every day. She was a Tiller girl and a flapper and I have great rhythm and a love of dance so I
have her to thank for that! So many stories!

Your favourite holiday destination?

Lauren: When the sun is shining in the United Kingdom, there really is no other place to be. I love the Isle of Wight, particularly Ventnor on the south coast, it has it’s own micro-climate and can feel sub-tropical on a sunny summer’s day! Further afield, I
love the buzz of Manhattan and the laid back vibes of California and Miami in the United States.

Louise. I agree you cant beat a perfect English summers day. Sublime. Picnic, fields, blue skies…..other than that I fell in love with Greece a few years ago and have a secret hotel we go back to, and my culture hit has to be Barcelona for its architecture old and new, food and positive vibe.

Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?

Lauren: My favourite hotel would have to be the Paramount Hotel in NYC. Philippe Starck’s vision for this space is ingenious, with angled walls and narrowing staircases. Everyday items are depicted with clever spotlighting to highlight them as display pieces. A very dramatic space indeed.

Louise. A perfect hotel is The Grittia Palace in Venice. Restaurant would be my mother’s local bistro in Dorset that does the most amazing Mexcian night, and my favourite bar is in Kefalonia…the cocktails are brain numbingly good.

Your favourite book, film & song?

Lauren: A recent favourite read was ‘Time and How to Spend it’ by James Wallman. It encourages a seven-point checklist by suggesting avoiding empty experiences, and filling free hours with exciting and enriching ones instead. A must read and has certainly changed my way of thinking about how I spend my free time! My favourite song: far too many to choose from…however, Neil Young, ‘From Hank to Hendrix’ makes me reminisce my childhood, I’ve been lucky enough to see Neil Young perform twice. He really is a music legend!!

Louise . Favourite book is Jane Eyre. Just The most perfect love story ever written. I’ve read it numerous times and it never fails to move me. I’m not a big film person but I like anything that keeps me thinking for days. I analyse the sets! Song has to be anything by Fleetwood Mac. Rumours was my first album and I still play it regularly. I wanted to be Stevie Nicks…there’s still time…

Your favourite food and drink?

Lauren: Chicken Tikka Shaslick with a Gentleman Jack to wash it down!

Louise: Thai food and a strong G&T. Not together.

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?

Lauren: My daughter leads an equally busy life, but we ensure we spend quality time together as much as possible. We enjoy whiling away the hours, chatting over Tapas or attending music concerts together. Woodland walks – being surrounded by nature is so important for the soul!

Louise: Live music, reading, catching up with friends. Fresh air is good!

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

Louise: A rock star. It’s in my blood, I’m sure of it.

Matthews Rea