Design Date with Barbara Hulanicki

Barbara Hulanicki won widespread acclaim in the Sixties with Biba, which blazed the way for innovative fashion and lifestyle retailing. Today, she works as a sought-after interior designer, based much of the year in Miami. She is a guest speaker at the Focus/11 lecture ‘A Very Fashionable Life’ on Tuesday 27 September.

What is your earliest ‘design’ moment, the one that perhaps set you on your path? This was definitely at art school when I won an Evening Standard competition to design swimsuits; I’d always thought I was such a loser until this point, and it really made believe, ‘I can do this!’

What interior design projects are you currently working on? Recently it’s been a hotel in Harbor island, The Bahamas. I’ve also just produced a series of illustrations and murals for The Cuckoo Club in Mayfair, which were unveiled just last week.

Career highlight? There have been so many, but nothing can really surpass ‘Big Biba’ [the emporium she opened in the ‘70s]. It was terrifying, but we kind of jumped in with both feet!

What signalled your entrée into interior design from fashion? I rather fell into it. Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones invited me to Miami to do the interior of his club. He said “come for six months”, and twenty years on, I’m still there. Fortunately, people who ask me to work for them, aren’t corporate at all, so I’ve been able to be very creative.

What advice would you give someone wishing to follow in your footsteps? I can’t emphasise enough the importance of practical experience when starting out, however lowly. Approach those you admire and work for them in whatever capacity you can. You will learn so much about business and the nature of the industry you’re aspiring to.

Design Lecture Ticket Information:
Booking Hotline 020 7352 1900 Design Lecture: £15                                       Location: SPACE, Third Floor, South Dome


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