On the cusp of what is to be a milestone anniversary year for the great british interior design brand and hot off the back of completing the interiors at 51 Mount Street. REDD meets Karen Howes, the eponymous head of design practice Taylor Howes Designs. Karen is a CEO, a mother of two, the Place2Be carol concert committee chair and the founder of Rest Nest, a charity initiative oriented towards redesigning and providing better on-shift rest facilities and spaces for nurses and doctors on the frontline.
Personifying the colloquialism and adage of ‘ask a busy person and it’ll get done’, here we discuss Karen’s 30+ year career, her passion for the world of interiors and business, as well as her charitable endeavours and how she spends her downtime.
After nearly 30 years in the business of interior design, Taylor Howes has become one of Britain’s foremost design brands. To what factors do you attribute your success?
We pride ourselves on the relationships that we build with our clients. We work hard to listen and interpret their briefs and start every project getting to know their hopes and intentions for the space. We also want to know how the client intends to live in the space long term as this helps us with functionality. I think this attention to detail has contributed to our success and we are progressive in nature as a design studio.
Karen, you often say your passion for business is as deep rooted as your passion for interior design, how would you define your philosophy and business vision?
Yes, for me it’s as much about the business side of interior design as it is the actual designing. I work with our developer clients particularly closely to really understand what is going to help them sell, and what will help them sell quickly. In the same vein, you need to know the market, the neighbourhoods, the agents and the sales statistics in each area to really be useful to your clients.
What are the main sources of inspiration?
My team is a constant source of inspiration – their energy and creativity are second to none. Nina Campbell once said always surround yourself with young designers and that’s exactly what I do!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I would have to say that my greatest achievement is being in the interior design business for over 30 years, still being on the top of my game, still learning something new every day and striving to be the best that we can be as an international interior design studio.
What is the one project you will never forget?
I remember every project I have ever worked on; I have a photographic memory when it comes to design and detail. But for me the best projects are the ones I call my ‘game changer’ projects. For example, we did a Church Conversion in Knightsbridge for which we won the Andrew Martin award. This was a game-changing project for our design studio as it elevated us to the next level and gave us global recognition in the interior design sector. But I would say, the main project I will never forget is my first flat I bought in South London, as it is what ignited my love for interior design, I did the whole apartment myself, and is what led to me pursuing a career in this sector.
What is your mantra in design?
Following on from the above, my design motto is ‘true design for living’. Our job is to inject the wow factor while also ensuring that the way a home feels or is lived in is never sacrificed for the way it looks.
In your downtime, how and where do you like to spend it?
I spend as much time as I can in our house in Stockbridge. It’s been an extensive refurbishment project that thankfully we wrapped just before the height of the pandemic really set in, so it was great to be able to spend an extended period really getting to live in the house and enjoy it. I love it too as the kitchen has our collaboration AGA in it. Working with the team at AGA was such fun and to be designing such a unique piece for an internationally recognised brand such as AGA was special. Outside of R&R time at home, I’m a keen antique hunter and I love spending time with my two girls and my husband, Andrew.