Current role and career background: I am the owner and founder of my own interior design company, which I started in 1994. I run the business and retail shop in Henley-on-Thames and manage projects across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. I began working in the industry ever since leaving college and have been working on interior design projects for over 26 years. I have worked across both domestic and commercial markets, but now focus mainly on domestic interiors. I prefer those types of projects as I love the client interface that comes with it.
What made you choose a career in design? I’m the daughter of an architect and some of my earliest memories are of when my family and I lived on a massive project when I was very young. I think living in such a creative environment is what influenced me the most initially. My mother talks about putting me to bed and coming upstairs to wake me in the morning and finding I had moved all my bedroom furniture around! Looking back, in some ways it was probably destiny for me.
What is the best part of your job? One of the best parts of the job is working so closely with people. You learn to become intelligent to their feelings and how to really get inside a client’s head. The vision you see must reflect your client’s tastes and not your own. I also really enjoy working in an industry which is so alive and ever-changing. As a designer, you never stop learning, so I’m never bored!
What is the toughest part of your job? The administrative side can be tedious at times and there are days when you must remain glued to your computer catching up on paperwork. The logistics of a build can be challenging as well. If you are managing a project, you are responsible for a working across a variety of different teams and trades and if not organised properly, important details could get missed and a project could become extremely stressful.
Which designer/product/ building most inspires you and why? I moved to Madrid for two years when my husband was posted there for his job, which was a great inspiration to me. My clients there were very open to using colour in their homes, but on moving back to Henley, I found I’d arrived in the midst of a beige and cream trend. However, my experiences abroad enabled me to consult clients in the UK more confidently about using colour across their homes. I love it when I see more people willing to experiment with less conventional ideas, because it means they are starting to trust my consultation and expertise. Kit Kemp (co-founder and design director of boutique hotel brand Firmdale Hotels) is probably one of the designers I most admire. She is a fantastic ambassador for bringing colour back into design and has shown people through her hotels how colour can really lift an interior.
Which have been your favourite projects so far and why? It’s hard to pin-point one main moment, as every project, once completed, feels like such a huge achievement that it’s difficult to pick a favourite! I do however, always feel proud when the team excels against the odds when it comes to tight deadlines. I recently worked on a project, where I had just under two weeks to strip and t out a project right down to the dressing. This was made more complicated as it was a long-distance project as well. It was a complete whirlwind, but I made sure I worked closely with all the parties involved and it was a fantastic success! On a more personal note, getting a particularly cautious client to trust your advice and consultation is also highly rewarding.
TV programmes you never miss: The TV tends to be quite dominated by my kids, but I always enjoy Sherlock and Victoria.
Favourite place in the world: Alhambra in Andalusia, Spain.
Best book you’ve ever read: The Light in Between by Marella Caracciolo Chia.
Which famous designer (past or present) would you most like to invite round for a cup of tea? Frank Lloyd Wright as I greatly admire his work.
Social media: love it or loathe it? I personally like social media as a tool for my industry. I especially like Instagram, not only because it’s a great way to visually display your design strengths, but also because it provides a strong platform for many young, up-and-coming, designers to get their work out there.
Which three words would you use to describe yourself? Sympatico, intuitive, organised.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Firstly, ‘Not to overcomplicate things’. I think this translates across into my design style as well. I am a big believer in working with the fabric of a building and making the most of an existing foundation. I always explain this to my clients and try to breakdown their projects to make them as simple and as manageable as possible. Secondly, ‘Don’t be afraid to break some boundaries’. Design is ever changing and evolving, we should not shy away from this, but as designers we also need to make sure we listen to the brief and understand what our clients want as well.Anne Haimes Interiors | annehaimesinteriors.co.uk