Name: Karen Howes
Company: Taylor Howes
Position within company: Founder & CEO
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
A passionate interior designer. Even as a young girl I used to rearrange my room as well as re-designing it, smiling at the outcome. When I was 18, I was sharing an apartment in King’s Cross with Martin Waller, worldwide furniture retailer and founder of Andrew Martin. Soon after, my career started. I started Taylor Howes in my spare room in Pimlico in 1993. At the time I was working as an estate agent and so I continued to work for the agents for 4 days a week and the other 3 days were spent building up enough clients so that I could achieve my dream of becoming a leading interior designer. I used my own apartment as a show apartment and invited developers to come and view my designs – a move which led to my first commissions.
Taylor Howes is now an international interior design practice that has completed over 1,000 worldwide projects. We are widely considered to be one of three top UK companies that high net work individuals turn to when seeking an interior designer, Acting for both private clients and many of the UK’s top developers, we are proud to act for a number of repeat clients who return to use the team’s services again and again. A great example is St George, part of the Berkeley Group, who we have been working with for over 15 years, designing their Thames based penthouses.
Over the last 25 years Taylor Howes has grown from a two-woman and a dog business, to a studio team. In 2015 we invested in a 5,000sqft state-of-the-art studio in Knightsbridge that will allow for further expansion and will help us cement our reputation as one of the world’s leading interior design practices and help us reach our aim of becoming a ‘super brand’!
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
I love clever design and glamorous detail. I collect British 20th Century art and my collection greatly influences the designs of my own properties.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
Fashion, social media, magazines and blogs offer are a great source of inspiration for us, as well as art and travelling around the world. We are lucky in that we can regularly visit trade fairs, both in London and internationally which give us the opportunity to take a break from our current work and come back with lots of new and fresh ideas.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Recently interiors have become more eclectic. Mixing classic contemporary design with statement pieces from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design:
Look out for collectors items to bring in feature pieces
Don’t be afraid of colour
Mix and do not match metal finishes for a more relaxed look
Be bold with your artwork and accessories
Don’t be afraid of mixing patterns
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
Space planning and getting your dimensions right is the most pivotal part of the initial design process
How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
We are very strong believers in the importance of taking a step back and reflecting on the work that we have completed and congratulating ourselves on our achievements – something that is often easier said than done! To receive recognition from well-respected peers within the industry is testament to the hard work that the team puts in and allows them to take a moment to consider their accomplishments rather than moving straight onto the next project. For Taylor Howes, awards are a brilliant reflection of the passion, commitment and hard work of the team, as well as being a great way in which to provide our clients with a further confidence that we are an esteemed and respected studio.
What projects are you currently working on?
We have about 25-30 projects on the go at any one time and we are looking forward to working on a holiday home in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi for one client, two fabulous mews houses in Kensington for another repeat client. A complex house in Notting Hill – two listed houses joined together – the more complicated the better! Three fabulous show apartments near Regents Park. Really we are so lucky to work on some very exciting projects – we never stand still!
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
We are hugely excited to be launching our first furniture collection in the next twelve months. As we are constantly designing bespoke products for our clients, it made sense that our next move was to launch our own collection, particularly after the success of our first lighting collection – a collaboration with Urban Electric Company. Last year we launched an industry networking club, The Business of Design, that we hope to evolve and grow this year, along with a producing our first coffee table book. Resting on our laurels is never an option for us!!
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
My Barbara Hepworth painting – she was one of the most talented women
Your favourite holiday destination?
Cornwall – when the sun shines there is nothing nicer that a walk with the dog along Daymer Bay
Your favourite hotel / restaurant or bar?
I love the Costes in Paris for its restaurant and bar!
Your favourite book / film / song?
My favourite book is the Road Less Travelled by Scott Peck, favourite film Pretty Woman and favourite song Lovely Day by Bill Withers – gets me up in the morning with a smile
Your favourite food and drink?
Lobster spaghetti and champagne or a good Montrachet
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
It would start with a long lunch with friends, followed by a walk with the dog, some pruning in the rose garden, pick a few vegetables for supper and then relax in front of a great movie
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I love stone so I could well have been a geologist or better still a gemmologist!
Anything else interesting?
My first landlord was Martin Waller of Andrew Martin who installed in me a life long passion for collection – I collect British 20th Century Art.