devol kitchens

Designer in Profile: Helen Parker, Creative Director at deVOL Kitchens

deVOL Kitchens have been shortlisted for Kitchen Design Over £50,000 Award  in The International Design & Architecture Awards 2020. Read more about Creative Director, Helen Parker below:

Name: Helen ParkerdeVOL Kitchens

Company: deVOL Kitchens

Position within company: Creative Director


Tell us a little about your background in design:
My experience and background is all self taught, I have no formal education or qualifications in design, just an innate desire to create, make and design beautiful spaces and things. My 15 years at deVOL Kitchens have gone from learning to design customer kitchens to designing, creating and styling all our showrooms in Leicestershire, London and New York.

How would you describe your personal design style?
My style has evolved over the years but has always been firmly placed in a desire to keep things as authentic as possible. I like to make do and not begin again, I like to keep features good or bad and try to work with them as I feel it often enhances a space to have to work at the good and bad bits as it most always makes a space more interesting. I like mixing old with new and I like to create spaces that feel like home, lived in spaces and rooms that have life and soul and history. I like colour and textures and I like to mix unusual things together, be it colours or furniture or accessories. I am always very conscious to stick to a building’s history if possible, if not then I will be sure to keep it subtle rather than create a style out of nothing.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
In the beginning my inspiration subconsciously came from growing up in an old house full of books, antiques and unusual things collected over my father’s lifetime of interests. His passion took me to many places as a bystander but had a huge impact on my style in later life. My style has been enhanced by travel and I am passionate about the Mediterranean, the lifestyle, the use of ancestral things for interiors and how families pass on and live with their history rather than replacing it every few years.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
I am not a huge follower of mainstream design and tend to go with my own instincts rather than being an avid watcher of new design. However, I do realise that we all subliminally notice things changing over time and become aware and even make these changes ourselves. I am always drawn to designs that are more Classic and take their lead from old things, not copies, but creating beautifully well made things that we can often no longer find. So it may be a carefully woven bag using traditional methods, a glamourous lampshade using fine fabrics and hand made to last, or a piece of furniture that is traditional and doesn’t stand out as being contemporary or different.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.
Gosh that’s a difficult one!

  • Be bold or be minimal, never in between
  • Use lots of colour or no colour never a mix
  • Use old and new together and keep things eclectic
  • Be conscious of using and buying things with provenance
  • Don’t follow a theme do your own thing

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
Spend some time looking at the space either on paper or actually there in the space, before you begin to imagine how it could be, don’t make decisions until you have mulled them over for a considerable time. Imagine the space before you put pen to paper, once you have made a mark it’s harder to change your mind.

What projects are you currently working on?
I am always working with other designers from deVOL Kitchens on new products, I am constantly trying to find time to re-work spaces within our showrooms and sourcing vintage pieces to work alongside the new pieces. I am always in the midst of styling rooms and working with our photographer Tim on new brochures and images to promote our business. I am usually looking forward to overseas travel for inspiration but for now I will settle for reading and watching programmes on travel, cooking and films.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
To work harder, to travel more, to rest more.

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

Your most treasured possession?
My children, I can manage without my possessions

Your favourite holiday destination?
A small townhouse in Palma or a Finca in Soller, Mallorca

Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?
Best city hotel, The Bowery New York, the best country Hotel Jnane Tamsna, Marrakech.  Best restaurant is too difficult but Campania and Jones on Ezra Street in London, or Ivan Ramen and Desnuda both in East Village New York. Best bar is St John on St John Street Clerkenwell

Your favourite book, film & song?
My favourite book is ALL my cookery books! Favourite film is not possible to cut down to one, but up there would be il Postino and City of God and favourite song is anything by George Michael.

Your favourite food and drink?
A glass of cold Chablis and a bowl of twiglets

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Wandering around a fish market in Palermo

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

Anything else interesting?
I left school at 16, got thrown off a secretarial course, did a beauty therapy diploma, worked in a shop, got spotted working in a delicatessen by Paul O’Leary the owner of deVOL Kitchens at 39, he employed me with no qualifications or experience and I worked my way up to being a director 6 years ago, with his guidance and mentoring.

deVOL Kitchens have been shortlisted for Kitchen Design Over £50,000 Award  in The International Design & Architecture Awards 2020.

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