Hello! Can you tell us about yourself? I’m Nicola, owner of Nicola Holden Designs, a…
Hello! Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m the founder of Studio Suss, a boutique interior design studio based in Kings Cross, London, and working throughout the world. We balance functional design with exquisite finishes to create memorable spaces that our clients love experiencing, and living in.
We collaborate with a range of commercial and residential partners on the design of beautiful interiors. Our clients include developers, investors, companies, and homeowners.
Each design is curated to represent the individual vision, spirit and energy of the client..
I am a Patron of the Royal Academy of Arts, and a Member of the British Fashion Council Fashion Trust. Our connections with the worlds of art and design influence and inspire the studio’s designs. Studio Suss is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design, and has been shortlisted for the Andrew Martin Interior Designer of the Year, 2017 and 2019.
We are increasing our focus on sustainability in design, and offer every client the option of environmentally friendly products and finishes to incorporate into their schemes.
What’s your backstory and what attracted you to design?
Whilst reading International Management with American Business Studies at Manchester University and UMASS in the USA, I helped to promote the Hacienda, the iconic nightclub. The Hacienda was a world leading pioneer in music’s transition into dance culture, and also a pioneer in its style of graphic design and branding.
My early career spanned working with and advising blue chip brands across print, the internet, interactive TV, and interactive gaming at Sky.
I have always had a passion for design, so whilst on maternity leave, I retrained as an interior designer, completing courses at St Martins, Chelsea College of Art and Design, and finally Inchbald.
After designing and building our family home, I completed some small projects for friends, and one of whom wanted to pitch my home as a story for Living etc. magazine. When the magazine featured us, I created a website and Studio Suss was born.
What do you love most about designing?
I love looking at beautiful and innovative things. I love creating spaces that work for different needs and creating design solutions. I love that I get to make a career out of all these things.
Who, for you, has been the most influential designer/designers?
I think that Thomas Hetherwick is amazing; from the 2012 Olympic Cauldron, to Coal Drops Yard, and the Vessel, I think that his designs are incredible. www.heatherwick.com
Where/how do you find inspiration for new designs?
I get inspiration from everywhere and everything. As a designer, I never switch off.
I love to travel and get so much inspiration from experiencing new places, surroundings and cultures.
I love visiting art galleries, interior design exhibitions and fashion weeks. For the events that I can’t get to physically, Instagram is great.
Describe your approach to functionality v aesthetics.
Both go hand in hand; the space has to “work” for the purpose, but it also has to look great.
We always start with “how you/the intended client want to feel in the space”. We then build the look and choose the right materials for the job.
Describe your approach to choosing/using colours.
I love working with colour. Again, it comes back to the feeling of the space. Clients may prefer a colour and we will work that into a scheme; we’ve done a couple of rooms that are painted totally in one colour (ceilings, doors, skirting etc.), which has a lovely cocooning feel.
We always advise on colour psychology as well; the colours chosen can have such an impact on how someone feels in a space. We’ll generally advise on cool, calming colours in a bedroom etc.
Many of our private clients have art collections that we incorporate into the scheme from the outset, so we may choose a more neutral backdrop to allow the art to really stand out.
How are green awareness and the increasing popularity of eco-friendly products affecting the design process(now, and in the future)?
We always explore Eco-friendly products as part of the conversation from the outset; from recycling rain water and alternative energy sources, to choosing rugs made from recycled plastic bottles. It’s a fine balance between the chosen aesthetic and the products available.
As a company we are doing everything that we can to encourage our clients to be more Eco-friendly through the choices that they make, and it’s great to see more products on the market that have greener credentials.
Internally we are creating a database of Eco-friendly suppliers, and if the aesthetic can work within the scheme, we encourage our clients to use them. We pledge to always show our clients the Eco-friendly options for the items we are sourcing, and will work with contractors and suppliers that have a similar ethos.
I am also working with the BIID on a sustainability agenda for the industry.
Take us through your process of designing for a client.
We work with a wide range of clients and use a holistic approach to the design process; our clients are always at the centre. Wherever possible, we design with the environment in mind. Whether this is the internal environment of the building, or local area, we aim to source ethical and sustainable products.
Our process starts with many questions so that we create an in-depth understanding of the requirements of the space; whether it’s an office, retail outlet or home. We then create inspiration boards that illustrate the design direction and space planning. This is followed by plans, elevations, and technical details, to ensure that the client approves of everything before we proceed with production.
What do you like to hear people say when they view your work?
Our clients generally love the spaces we create for them, most of our business is from word of mouth recommendations and repeat clients.
One of my first clients texted me last week “Have just drawn the curtains – this room is bloody fabulous” which was great to hear 7 years after completing the project, and illustrates how timeless the design was.
What interesting projects are you working on right now? And what does the future look like?
We have recently completed the conversion of two homes into a single dwelling in London. The project is for a film producer and has some amazing and unique elements (such as a screening room hidden behind an original James Bond movie poster).
We are also currently working with some existing art-loving clients on their substantial new build home. As well as another great new-build, a few refurbishments, and the early stages of a large commercial project.
In 2020 we’ll be increasing our emphasis on sustainability, and working with suppliers to create eco-friendly bespoke items that look great and do good.