We have something a bit different for you this week. We sat down with Celine from interior design company Indie & Co to get the low-down on her business, some tips for designing our own homes, and her thoughts on some of our artwork.
Could you give us a quick introduction to Indie & Co?
Indie & Co was set up six years ago, after I had my second child, and we came back from New York, where I worked for an architecture firm there called Made NYC. Before that I worked for a furniture maker and designer called Pinch and met the designer Russell Pinch; he was a protege of Conrad. I had learnt an awful lot from him. I learnt a lot about running a business. It was really, valuable.
When I came back from New York, I decided that I did not want to work for a company, especially after working for an architecture firm, so I set up Indie & Co, which has now grown quite a lot since I first set it up on my own.
We mostly focus on residential contracts, we have done a few offices, and we were originally looking into going into offices before COVID struck and completely erased that idea. We do anything from a full half renovation to kitchen extension to loft extension, and to simply helping with what we called FF&E, which is a technical term in interior design to describe furniture fixing and equipment. It's what we would typically call it decorating most of the time, we would be working on structural work as well and all the other bits that come with it.
How can you/ Indie& Co visualise what artwork should be placed in a room and at what stage in the design process does this happen?
The way that we would design a room is, from the start is to create a concept design; have an idea of where we might want to display any art. That can depend very much on the project, sometimes we have art we need to work with already. In the case, that gives us a lot of direction in terms of where we need to go with the rest of the art in the room, or the colours that we need to compliment. Sometimes there's no art at all. And that's actually the hardest because picking art for a client is a really, really hard thing to do. Art is so subjective, a beautiful interior, I think anybody could walk into a room and think, "Oh, this piece is beautiful", whether they want it in their home or not is a different thing.
Where art is so subjective, one piece could be beautiful to somebody and the wrong thing for somebody else. Art is thought of early in the concept and it is discussed at the beginnings stages with the client; what they are drawn to and what kind of art they like. The actual pieces themselves wouldn't be decided until later into the into the process. However, the size of the potential piece, for example, we would already consider that. Perhaps to decide whether the space should house a gallery wall or a large one piece.
When designing or redesigning living spaces, how much does the location of the building influence your design recommendations?
Majorly. Especially if we haven't got a clear brief from the client in terms of what they're looking for, for the art.
I think art is often influenced by its location; just the way that we would look at the era of the property when we redesign. If we're looking at period features, we would perhaps reinsert features that would have originally been in that house. I think the same thing applies to understanding the building’s neighbourhood; appreciating the setting and grounding of the house in its environment. For an interior designer it is also a lot easier to design when respecting the location of the building. Bringing in something completely random, which has no connection to the client, can be very challenging.
I was working on a penthouse in Bayswater for a client, he was director for Vodafone. But lived in Holland and had this as his pied-a-terre in London. He had also lived in South Africa before, and loved it. He gave us no brief at all, apart from “I like the monochrome thing” and that was it. A busy client like himself had no time to be involved. He set his budget and gave us free rein on every design aspect of the project, including the artwork. We decided to pick on the fact that he loves South Africa. To use that memory and love in the type of photography that we placed around the house, the type of art, the type of materials, the type of accessories, even down to type of plant. We kept it minimal, so it didn't feel like a theme. There were some thoughtful and impressive touches, which would mean something to him and would be reminiscent of a time that he enjoyed.
Do you find it easier to work with those who are more specific in their requests, or those who let you have full artistic license on a project?
A very broad remit can be very difficult. Because ultimately, clients do have things they love and things they dislike, but it is very hard to articulate what you don’t like in interior design if you have never personally experienced it before. At Indie & Co, that’s what we really try to get to the bottom of (knowing what they dislike) because we can gently persuade our clients to like things that they might not have considered before. However, if we put something in that they really don't like, then we've completely got it wrong and that is far from ideal.
Yet a client who's too specific, the purpose of having an interior designer becomes a little obsolete, because if they know too much about what they want, then we end up just executing what they've got in their heads. Often that's an image they've seen on Pinterest or an image and they don't have the vision to understand whether that would actually work in their own space.
The best kind of client is to have one who is open minded.
A client we love is somebody who says to us, “we think we kind of know what we want, but we want to be challenged.” That's perfect for us because we have a direction, but we have opportunities to bring in something different.
If I was a novice at home decor enthusiast, but wanted to add a gallery wall or small collection of prints to somewhere in my home, what are some important considerations to make and how would I even begin choosing what I should hang or where I should hang it?
I think there are a few things there. I think that it needs to make sense to a certain extent. I love the idea of using completely random pieces in putting it together, but for it to actually work it, there needs to be a common thread somewhere. Whether it is in the subject, whether it is your own emotional connection to the pieces such as personal memories, or they really trigger an emotional reaction. It could be down to the type of frames that you're going to use. I wouldn't use the same frames. It would be unlikely that I would use all the same colour frames, nor the same colour pieces or sizes. Perhaps you're using some vintage frames, which are beautiful but add depth by inserting wild card frames of different styles and sizes. Definitely mix it up; mix landscape with portrait and mix up sizes. I would even be so bold as to say try and ensure every single piece of your gallery wall is a different size. I think that's when it becomes interesting, when you start layering and you start having something a little bit more thoughtful.
I tend to put a gallery wall in hallways or in rooms where you don't sit for a very long time. somewhere where you you'd walk past and be aware of it as aa nice reference but you don't sit in front of it for hours. I believe you would get bored of the gallery wall if it is all you see in a room that you spend a lot of time. People that have put gallery walls together will have personal pictures will have references to memories, such as maps and key dates nostalgia. Those are wonderful pieces to cherish but I think I would rather sit in front of one big beautiful painting and get lost in that and have those other references in rooms where I just pass by.
What is your favourite project that Indie & Co have curated the interior design for?
My house. Because it has all the things I love, because it's personal, because when I work with clients I work to their brief to their tastes to a certain extent.
We as interior designers have our input, but they have the final say. In my house I can be as creative as I want, I can decide where I'm happy to spend money and where I want to hold back. My home has been completely designed to fit my family. It took me three and half years to complete. That timelines was from to the final touches now such as curtains and lampshades. However, this Brixton home is not our forever home and I always knew that. The budget and thoughts that went into designing this house had this in mind and the finished article needed to be practical. It needed to be adaptable if were to sell it.
If you were commissioned in place in print to produce a new illustration, what area of London would you go for? And what would be the significance behind it?
I happen to live in Brixton and Brixton has been a big part of my life for the last nine years. Even though I'm French (born in Paris) and grew up in Brussels, Brixton very much feels like home. And there's lots of references in some of Place in Print's illustrations that resonate with me. Herne Hill as well, because it is right next door, and my kids go to school there. We are always in Brockwell Park.
From looking at all the prints, the ones that resonate with me are the ones that I recognise and mean something to me. I've walked past The Ritzy Cinema countless times and seeing it in a print is quite lovely. If we were to leave London and move to South of France, that's probably something I would want to take with me because seeing that print in my French abode would send me back to the good London times.
You’ve kindly agreed to pick out some of your favourite Place in Print prints to create an Indie & Co Edit - which prints did you pick and why?
- Brixton Village Roof – Brixton Village is a two minute walk from my house until COVID hit this where we would be on a weekly, nearly daily basis. This is where we get our bread, cheese and patisseries. It's literally on my doorstep. I actually really like the colours as well and the Indie & Co edit is selected on colours that work well together. That was one thing that also connected.
- Brockwell Lido Flats – I love the layering of the two buildings and how those towers are quite impressive. I cycle pass them all the time and they’re quite significant for the area.
- Brockwell Park Texture – It’s a bench in Brockwell Park. It is a moment in time. Sitting on a bench in the middle of a park, is something I have done hundreds of times and I like the feel of it. It does feel like spring looking at it. It is very green and you forget you’re in Central London.
- Brockwell Park Travel Poster – I like the simple greens contrasting with the bright blue sky with the little church in the distance. When you stand in Brockwell park with that view, you transport yourself to somewhere else completely; a tiny village and you forget for a moment there are buildings all around you. That view is often one we will talk about on a family walk.
- Brixton Academy Travel Poster – The colours are striking and it brings back a lot of memories of fun nights, amazing gigs and life before.
- Brixton Academy Blueprint – The colours and clean lines are impressive
- SE24 Type Map – I love a map, I just like looking at them. I like how the writing of the street names creates the roads within the print. Plus my house is on the map. There is always a joy in trying to find your house on a map.
- Brockwell Hall Travel Poster – It is a beautiful building, which has been needing renovating for so long. It has been just on the back of my mind as one of those projects that Indie & Co would absolutely love to do.
Any final thoughts on how to create your dream gallery wall?
When it comes to choosing art, it's really important to keep it personal. When choosing a piece of art, get in touch with your emotional connection to the piece. You need to have an emotional response to it. There needs to be a meaning or represent something. It will genuinely make you feel happier in your home. Because every time you'll walk past it, it will trigger something and you'll think, “Oh gosh, I remember that time”.
With Gallery Walls, I would say build them slowly. I've been wanting to do a gallery wall in my house and I still haven't done it because I think this is something that needs to grow. A gallery wall is a project that you slowly buy pieces for, adding a piece at a time to the puzzle. Rather than go on a mission, measuring your wall and frames to dash out and buy everything at once. I think layering and adding to it is going to give you a lot more satisfaction and it's going to have a lot more meaning.