Grosvenor Place design practice Kitesgrove were recently appointed to transform a Covent Garden apartment into the perfect home-from-home. We caught up with Creative Director Sophie Elborne, whose pride of British craftsmanship combined with an affinity for authentic mid-century design shone through to create a stunning living space. She reveals how it’s indescribably satisfying to find the missing piece of the design puzzle for a client and why working closely with The New Craftsmen is important in the world of British luxury interiors
Firstly, can you tell us a little about Kitesgrove?
We are a central London based team of interior design, project management and architectural specialists, with a collective passion for creativity and beautiful things. We provide a holistic service tailored to the high-end property sector. We feel privileged to work in an industry that exposes us to such diverse skills and people, from the artisans we commission to create bespoke marvels to the clients we get to know so well that we can be sure to deliver homes that are as authentic to them as they can be.
What was the brief for the Covent Garden Pied-à-Terre project?
We were appointed to dress and furnish a fourth Floor apartment over looking Covent Garden piazza, from sofas and beds through to the cast iron infusion teapot and almond milk in the fridge. Our client’s thespian lifestyle demanded regular travel, so this apartment needed to represent a restful and inspiring sanctuary in which she could feel ‘at home’ when she was working in London. She had a particular affinity and discerning eye for authentic mid-century design as well as a principled aesthetic vision that related closely to mine.
What was the biggest challenge along the way?
On a couple of occasions we found ourselves looking for a needle in a haystack. I was asked to source a set of vintage Fifties French ‘Scoubidou’ dining chairs from an image our client had found. I spent every bit of five months looking for the right thing, scouring our antique dealers’ collections and rummaging through Parisian markets. Also, in an attempt to nail the exact green velvet our client had in mind for the sofa, we must have sent dozens of fabric samples to New York where she was living at that time. In situations like these, it is indescribably satisfying to eventually find the perfect thing.
How pleased are you with the finished result?
I was personally delighted, but the real sense of fulfilment came from receiving an email from our client months after the project completion simply to say how much she adored spending time there.
Is there anything you would change with hindsight?
As our client became increasingly enamoured by the design-work, this project evolved to last longer than we initially anticipated. Had we known it would extend over several months, we would have suggested wallpapering or repainting some of the rooms to add character.
Client involvement: hands-on or hands-off?
Our client was closely involved in the design process, albeit from a distance as she was regularly abroad which meant communicating via email, juggling time zones and intensive meetings when she was in London. We connected very quickly over our mutual French roots and a shared design taste. Despite having a strong vision for what she wanted, she was appreciative and enthusiastic about new ideas, which made her a pleasure to work for.
Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline for 2016?
This summer we are launching a development of three duplex apartments in South Kensington, which is the culmination of two years’ work and very exciting. We are also working on a couple of private client complete renovations in Chelsea, a basement extension to a maisonette in Notting Hill, a multi-use building in Shoreditch and a destination restaurant in Derbyshire.
What excites you in the world of British craftsmanship?
Britain’s natural resources and longstanding craft heritage attracts tremendous global respect. It is exciting to have direct access to such varied materials and expertise so we can forge relationships with craftsmen and designers to commission unique pieces from our doorstep. We have recently completed a book-matched coffee table from two enormous planks of English elm with woodworker, Sebastian Cox. We also work closely with The New Craftsmen who represent a network of British makers specialising in textiles, silverware, ceramics and glassware among many other disciplines. They share our appreciation for innovation, rarity and utmost quality, which we believe to be the core values of luxury.
For more information, visit Kitesgrove