Nina Campbell is one of the world’s most respected interior designers, renowned for her contagious wit and sense of style. After starting her interior design career at Sybil Colefax & John Fowler, she set up her own decorating business where two of her first commissions were to design a castle in Scotland and Annabel’s private members’ club in London. She joins Homes & Gardens‘ executive editor Giles Kime at London Design Week 2015 to talk about the five homes she has lived in over 30 years. Here she talks early childhood inspirations, the secret of colour confidence and her latest furniture collection.
Lessons of a Legend: Hosted by Homes & Gardens, 11.30am, 8 March; Tickets, £10.
When did you first become interested in interior design? Probably when I was about seven or eight, because my mother used to move house a lot and I used to go with her to choose my own wallpapers. Then when I was 19 I went to work for John Fowler at Colefax & Fowler, but it was those early childhood experiences that sowed the seed.
What inspires your bold colour palette and your confidence with colour? I love colour – I think it’s cheerful and uplifting, but I think it needs to be suitable for the space you’re using it in. You can look anywhere and find inspiration for colour, even the old adage “blue and green should never be seen” has really been busted now, they look beautiful together. One just has to think about where you’re decorating for, feel the moment and go for it. Blues and whites always look lovely near the coast. It’s about looking at the colours around you.
Career highlight? I’m lucky that pretty much of my family are in the same business. It’s nice if your family follows you. I’ve been lucky enough to do some extraordinary jobs, once getting on a plane in China where I had just finished a house and getting off the plane in Oman, where I was just starting another, so I’m been incredibly lucky to work in all these different cultures with some really wonderful people.
Tell us about your furniture collection. The furniture collection has been borne out of things that I’ve found and feel the need for. We have a special line in those chairs that just tuck into little places – the sort of thing that you can just perch on, but equally if you’re stuck on one for a whole dinner party, you’re not going to have to see the chiropractor the next morning, because I do believe in comfort and practicality. Our chairs really do hold you – I always over-invite at my parties, so people are sitting on whatever they can find, but it has to be comfortable. We’re also working with a wonderful company called Oomph who work with really bright colours and they’re taking some of our pieces and colouring them for us, which will bring a wonderful breath of fresh air into Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour.
What defines good design? I think practicality has a lot to do with it. My first book was on a woman called Elsie De Wolfe and she talked about practicality, proportion and suitability, and I think with furniture if you follow those three principles, you usually hit the spot.
The new Nina Campbell showroom opens in Design Centre East in April 2015.