Hello! Can you tell us about yourself? I’m Nicola, owner of Nicola Holden Designs, a…
Hello! Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Cinzia and I am the founder and Creative Director of Moretti Interior Design Ltd. I run the business with my husband Michele who is a lighting designer.
Our design studio is based in Chiswick, West London and we work in London and internationally. To create our designs I put together a process that I have called Bio-Design, which combines colour psychology, lighting psychology and Biophilic in order to create something that truly reflects the client’s personality and lifestyle, reconnecting them with nature and therefore improving their wellbeing. Our clients are families or business people that want to improve their existing house or moving into a new home.
Our design philosophy is that each home we design is like a book that needs to be written, telling the story of who our clients are. We are also increasing our passion for sustainability and introduce it into our designs.
What’s your backstory and what attracted you to design?
My background is in theatre and I always admired the interior architecture of the theatres I was visiting. I also studied the history of art so anything that was architecture or art was my passion. I started my journey without actually intending to start it, when I first bought my flat and decided to change the interior.
My family back in Italy is in the property sector, started by my grandfather who had his own development company. I realized I enjoyed it, so I completed a 2 years interior design diploma.
I landed my first job straight after I finished the diploma. I met my first client at the Ideal Home Show, and I have never stopped since!
As a person I always wanted to explore and know more so I then decided to go to University and graduated with a BA in Design and Innovation.
What do you love most about designing?
What I love most about designing is that every design we do is an expression of art, style and personality that comes from the brief of each client. Hence, every design is different, and is a new challenge because every person we are designing for is different. We become the hand of the client’s imagination helping to transform all of the ideas they have into reality.
Who, for you, has been the most influential designer/designers?
I think that one of the designers that has been the most influential is Kelly Hoppen. She has created a style and changed the world of interior design. Everything that she creates is perfection. I have a deep admiration for her, also as a business woman not just as a designer. One of my favourite books is Kelly Hoppen Design Masterclass.
Another great designer is Katharine Pooley. She is an amazing woman, and designer, and very inspirational.
Where/how do you find inspiration for new designs?
My inspiration for new designs comes mainly from my clients, as we design for them. Understanding their personalities well, and understanding their background, really helps me to brainstorm ideas. Sometimes just a small word they say can start the design inspiration.
Also travelling and Nature are both sources of inspiration. I do not tend to get influenced and follow trend, so if I have to choose who really influences me I will say are historical painters like Caravaggio or Monet in their way they used colours and light.
I understand straight away if a design is coming together nicely because the colour scheme, texture, and style should really represent the client’s brief.
When the client sees everything together, and they think, and say “yes that’s me”! Applying the colour psychology also really helps to understand each hue tone and how they go together, specifically, for the type of personality.
But sometimes the design has some challenges and it can happen that we feel stuck, this is part of being human.
Designing is not like doing a math exercise with a formula, but is a process. We need to open our minds to different possibilities that are not always easy to find quickly.
So what I do is do step away from the design, there is no point in sitting down and trying to get it right and getting tired on it.
So I usually go out, sometimes for a walk, sometimes to do exercise or even just reading a book can help. That is when suddenly, ideas come.
When I look at the project again, I know what to do. Also working with a team really helps, as solutions and ideas come from everyone, design is team work really!
Describe your approach to functionality v aesthetics.
Usually, when I create my design I do not tend to add my personal preferences, as I am not really designing for me. I listen to the client carefully and try to design like I am my client, stepping into their head and imagining what their preference will be instead. Sometimes, on the same day we can be designing for a period home, and then a monochromatic minimalist interior for another project.
All our projects are different from each other for this reason. I like the challenge of designing different styles and the way I apply my preference is understanding which elements in that particular style works well for both the client and the property architecture and character.
If a client has a particular preference that I think does not really work with the design I try and find an acceptable alternative that can work better.
Describe your approach to choosing/using colours.
When it comes to choosing colour, I apply colour psychology and I also evaluate the orientation of each room we are designing, and how each colour tone can react to the natural light.
Each of us react differently to colours, therefore before selecting the colours I first do a deep analysis of the client’s personality and their reaction to different tones and shades. Therefore I actually start my design from the colour.
Once I have determined the right tone that will be dominant for that particular room I proceed to selecting materials, fabric and finishes.
How are green awareness and the increasing popularity of eco-friendly products affecting the design process(now, and in the future)?
Part of my studies at Uni focussed on sustainability and eco-friendly products, which I think are important to the future of design. As designers we have the power and the responsibility to guide people to a better quality of design and lifestyle. We breathe in and touch everything inside our homes, so it makes sense to use materials that do not damage us or the environment.
This includes the paint we use, how we can save energy and water, the material used etc.
Take us through your process of designing for a client.
In terms of design process we follow the RIBA plan of Work and the BIID so the design is presented in stages, with each of them signed off when complete.
In this way the client is always aware of what is happening. Within this process I have introduced another process that I call Bio-Design, in which, for each of the stages, I guide the client through a journey of understanding their lifestyle and how, with the new design, they can improve it. In this way, the design is not just a design, but becomes more fundamental to the client’s wellbeing.
We present our designs in our studio, where the client, at incremental meetings, is presented with the concept, development, and technical details of the design.
Once the design is confirmed, all of the drawings, specifications and documents are shared with the contractor involved. We then coordinate the projects to make sure that everything is done as specified in the details.
What do you like to hear people say when they view your work?
That’s a very difficult question, as design, like art, is very subjective and depends on what the brief was. In general, people say to us that they love our designs. This is the expression that we like to hear the most.
What is your all-time favourite design (yours)?
When someone asks you what is your favourite design is like choosing your favourite baby, so really difficult.
Every project we have done has been special to us, maybe some more than others, but all of them are our babies!
If I have to choose, I will say the Chiswick family Victorian House, because we got on very well with the clients, we loved working on the project, and it has opened up the door to a lot of other great opportunities.
Through real-life design projects, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Through our design projects I have learned so much, I think I will learn all the time, as there is always a new challenge to face. I have learned to check, so many times, on absolutely everything, attempting to forecast problems and having a solution ready.
I usually follow my instinct when it comes to making decisions especially when it comes to take on projects. Not every project suits our studio and I have sometimes made a decision not to work with some projects that I didn’t feel were right for us.
I have also learned not to rush with the design. Good design is in the details and if this is done quickly, there is no way that everything will run smoothly, as something down the road can go missing.
Advice for readers who want to redesign their homes/workplaces?
My main tip if you are designing your home, is not to copy others. If someone has used a colour on their wall, it doesn’t mean that can work for you and your home, as there are so many variables to check first. Explore what you like, not what others say.
Also people tend to focus on one piece at the time and and then realize the pieces don’t all go together. My advice is to visualize them all together before you make any decision.
Try using a design ideas board, and pin all of your inspirations and ideas on the board and start from there, and then create piece by piece.
Nowadays we have the internet, which is an excellent tool for learning. Blog posts are very useful for ideas if you are beginning a new project, and also Instagram and Pinterest to get ideas and inspiration.
What interesting projects are you working on right now? And what does the future look like?
We are working on various design projects in Notting Hill, High Street Kensington, Wimbledon and Richmond at the moment.
We have a few exciting projects on a waiting list that we will start with the New Year.