Category Archives: Interior

Andrew Martin Awards 2017


Principal Alan Hughes attended the Andrew Martin Interior Designer of the Year awards held at Burlington House this year. The wonderful gallery in Piccadilly was packed to its beautifully gilded ceiling with the great and the good from the interiors world. The winner, Erin Martin, received her award from Stephen Fry, who spoke eloquently of the skills of the interior designer and Oscar Wilde’s commentary on the importance of design to a civilised society. Judges Kit Kemp and Jade Jagger cited Erin Martin’s playfulness as a deciding factor in their deliberations, a theme echoed by Martin Waller in his introductions. 

Inchbald associates and graduates were much in evidence and it was very gratifying to see Imraan Ismail included this year. Helen Green Design also made the grade, congratulations to Sammy Wickins and the team at Milner St. In a world that seems to hand out awards with ease it was gratifying to see such a well-attended and enthusiastically supported event, BIID President Charles Leon, and former president Susie Rumbold to name but two, alongside Nicky Haslam, last year’s winner, Joanna Wood and a large contingent of designers from China, some of whom Inchbald hosted at a successful cross cultural event last year. A truly international event.

Thanks to Martin Waller for organising such a wonderful evening.

A Starry Party with Claremont

Jacqueline Duncan, Dean, attended a party at Adam Sykes’ house in Wimbledon recently.  Adam is chairman of Claremont Furnishings.

Built in the sixties, it is surrounded by a not quite formal garden which is integrated into the interior of the house by glass walls.   Adam has re-built the interior in the open plan style, and his decoration is basically thirties,  elegant and  simple, enhanced by a picture collection which is both eclectic and very personal.
Adam’s guests represented some of the most important and successful interior designers of today, among whom I was pleased to count several of my old graduates.   It was indeed a ‘Marvellous Party’ and we were privileged to be included.

Unsurprisingly, Adam’s house is featured in this month’s House and Garden.

Claremont was founded in 1931 as a wholesaler of specialist textiles and trimmings to the interior design and decoration industry emerging in London. Since then Claremont has engaged a number of small European textile manufacturers to weave on commission our unique and specialised archive. The range of textiles is used in both traditional and contemporary interiors and frequently by designers working on important historic houses. Apart from their extensive range of standard shades, they are able to custom colour most of the fabrics and trimmings if required. The company has gained a loyal following through word of mouth, and is proud to supply the top international decorators through our three showrooms in London, New York and Los Angeles.
Visit their website:

Big Success Story

When Principal Alan Hughes interviewed Ziad Alonaizy in 2014 he was startled to be informed that the prospective student was an orthopaedic surgeon.   It was a most unusual background, but Inchbald is well known for change of career applicants and an urge to re-arrange a patient for the patient’s benefit does perhaps indicate a desire to improve, a fundamental attitude of designers.

So Ziad joined Inchbald, became student rep, graduated with Distinction and the Finchatton prize and is referred to by the School Secretary as ’the shining light’!  

Since Inchbald, Ziad has worked for distinguished Inchbald graduate and well known designer Stephen Ryan and has designed his own range of furniture which he put on display at Decorex this year, with great success.   In addition he is presently engaged on the design of a house in Portugal, an Hotel in Oxfordshire, and a penthouse in Paris.   Not surprisingly he is short of sleep but he is certainly not losing sleep over the progress of his career.

When he joined Inchbald he was aware that his life was taking a dramatic turn;   it was a very brave decision to return to school but he took it with confidence and his courage has been justified.   In his second career he is embarking on a big adventure and we at 

Inchbald have no doubt that his name will resonate in the world of interior design.


Student Exhibition 2017

The Inchbald Exhibition, featuring the Students’ work of the 2016/17 Courses, was held as usual at the Cadogan Hall and was considered by visitors to be an excellent example of good tuition allied to talent and extremely hard work.

Distinguished judges included Tim Gosling, David Harber, Annie Stevens and Anthony Paul. In addition, one of our own ex students, Michelle Holland, now working for Goddard Littlefair, joined the panel, bringing knowledge of the School and new experience to the verdicts.

Interior Design Judge Tim Gosling and Principal Alan Hughes

Among the prizewinners, Julia Zeen (Garden) and Alex Joergensen (Interiors) are both now working for the distinguished Phillipa Thorpe organisation. Rob Sutcliffe and Leigh Glover (both Garden) have started their own companies and we look forward to hearing of their success. Jack McCoy, with several others, is proceeding to taking his Masters at Inchbald.

A number of students are currently working as interns, some have returned to their own countries as interns or working designers.

Casper Mackenzie spent his gap year at Inchbald (I think that was a first) and returns to Leeds University to complete his degree there. Perhaps we will welcome him back for his Masters!

One or two, of course, have gone on holiday, and very well deserved!

Meanwhile, the School stays open in preparation for the intake of 17/18 and we look forward to welcoming all our new students, as well as those continuing with their studies here in 2018.

Jacqueline Duncan, Dean

Michelle Holland: Summer Exhibition 2017 Judge

At Inchbald we are privileged to have distinguished judges to review the work of our graduates but it was a particular delight to invite former student Michelle Holland back to the School for the 2017 presentation of awards.

Michelle was a memorable student from the class of 2007 coming to the School with a degree in languages and several years experience working as a Hotel Consultant for PKF Hotel Experts then running Market Research for Swiss International Air Lines. She brought creative flair, and a serious sense of business like efficiency to her course work as she tenaciously acquired the skills to make her dream of being an interior designer a reality.

Her final project was an ambitious reworking the Hilton Hotel in Manchester, through a connection made when the then Head of Design for Hilton International came to talk to Inchbald students.  Michelle presented her final work at Cadogan Hall, which was also the venue for her debut as an Inchbald judge this year.

Michelle went to work for Mary Fox Linton, straight after her graduation and after several years moved to Desalles Flint. She is currently an Associate at Goddard Littlefair where she works principally on designing both small and large scale luxury hotels.

The work at this year’s exhibition was in Michelle’s words, “impressive” and she was struck by the variety and finesse of the projects on show.  In her awards speech, she congratulated all those exhibiting, recognising their hard work and the determination it takes to produce work of such a high calibre.  This was an especially significant remark made by a very successful graduate who embarked on an Inchbald course with no experience of design and has subsequently proved herself an asset to the profession.  Her current success comes as no surprise to the staff at Inchbald.

Printing Press Bar & Kitchen, Goddard Littlefair (c)

Alan Hughes. Principal

The History and Application of Wallpaper

Jacqueline Duncan: Lecture by Diana Lloyd – The History & Application of Wallpaper

Jacqueline Duncan, OBE, Dean of Inchbald visited the Mendip NADFAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies) Branch recently to listen to a lecture on the History and Application of Wallpaper given by Diana Lloyd.

Long ago Diana was a particularly successful student at Inchbald; shortly after completing her course she started lecturing at the Victoria and Albert Museum on glass. She became a regular lecturer on decoration at Inchbald and soon took over the Directorship of the History of Design Faculty. With the advent of children she pursued an independent career as a lecturer on the Decorative Arts and her range is very broad, as NADFAS members across the UK will know to their benefit.

Diana is renowned for forensic research into her subjects and a sparkling delivery which captivates her audiences’ attention. I was particularly interested in the manner in which she handled her subject, bringing a fresh perspective to the fascinating story of wallpaper’s origins and subsequent decorative history.

The NADFAS organisation, founded some years after the 1960 foundation of the Inchbald School of Design, has made available a wondrous programme of lectures dedicated to the Arts, and promulgated both education and enjoyment in this wide subject, making it available across the UK to so many people of all ages and interests.

Jacqueline Duncan

The Manipulation Of Space With Colour

Alan Hughes discusses Tinie Tempah, colour psychology and how an interior designer can manipulate space with colour.

The concept that music can stimulate certain areas of the brain has prompted research by a team at Reading University to explore this theory.   English rapper and songwriter Tinie Tempah volunteered to undergo brain scans whilst listening to music and conclusions indicate that we are all fired by the impact of sound.  Certain areas of the brain ‘light up’, as we listen and the investigation is set to determine why these specific areas respond. This could be a clue as to which areas house our emotional responses and may begin to explain if particular areas of the brain are tuned to specific reactions?

The study attempts to quantify and measure personal reaction in a scientific manner, even though the effect may be no more dramatic than a ‘goose bump’.  

Tempah himself relates the analysis to his own compositions more immediately, stating that he needs the music to capture a feeling.   The scientists at Reading University however, aim to identify the level of activity in stem, cortex and cerebellum and the results of this exercise will impact on our perceptions across a wider field.

It comes as no surprise to the designer that sensory stimulus has an emotional consequence.   In spatial design a similar reaction can be provoked by colour and as the composition of the musician can be further inspired by music, so the Interior designer reacts to the stimulus of colour and can learn to manipulate space with visual impact.   The designer’s ability to assign colour for a purpose beyond cosmetic should be a major element in his or her perceived style and skill.

The educational centre in El Chaparral designed by Spanish architect Alejandro Munoz Miranda uses coloured glass in the communal corridors to elevate the students’ mood between classes

We are bombarded by stimuli on a number of levels and on a constant basis.   Initial impact is strong but this is reduced by repetition and, if you wish, familiarity.   Thus we experience a difference in brain activity between first impact and subsequent experience.  Nevertheless the impression penetrates more deeply into the brain than mere pleasurable response may suggest.

This information is not really new.   Many studies have shown that colour affects the heart rate, the recovery rate of patients, the behaviour of prison inmates and indeed the overall mood of the viewer.   Given this subjective reaction, the possibilities are interesting.   Once the student grasps the principles of colour and the differentials between aspects of warm and cold, advancing and recessive shades, so It becomes possible to change perceptions of form and scale with informed colour disposition.   Could anything be more empowering?

Fashions will come and go but the study of colour and its relationship to light, is one of the most important subjects in the lexicon of design education.

Read more about Tine Tempah: Mind-Blowing Music here.



Collectors & Collections

Jacqueline Duncan OBE on collectors, collecting and the Mostyn Reception at the British Museum at which the renowned clock has its annual winding.

Contemporary interior designers today show a marked disinterest in the use and beauty of antiques; I begin to wonder if the antique market will be saved by the enthusiasm of the Collector.

This was brought particularly to my attention on 23rd February 2017 when I was privileged to be invited to the annual winding of the Mostyn Tompion, now a prized feature of the British Museum’s spectacular Clock Collection.   Probably now the finest horological collection in the world, a major part of it was formed by engineer Courtenay Ilbert and acquired by the Museum in 1957 on Ilbert’s death.

“There are plenty of people who still enjoy the challenge of acquisition.”

Collectors fall into categories, but they share a single minded passion for their specific interest, whether it be diamonds from Golconda or pottery shards from Troy.   In Courtenay’s case he was intrigued enough to purchase a tray of watch parts in a jewellers’ closing down sale in order to see what he could make of them.   Within the week it is said that he had restored the muddle into three watches; at the time he was still at public school, aged about 13.   Childish fascination turned into obsession and he was to pursue his accumulation of items concerned with the measurement of time until he died in 1956.   A qualified engineer, he remained committed to the mechanics of his clocks and watches: the cosmetic grandeur of jewelled watches and wondrous clock cases was of secondary importance.

“Collectors share a single minded passion for their specific interest.”

On one occasion in 1910, buying a newspaper in a booth in Piccadilly, he saw a new watch for sale for 2/6d.   He bought it, pointing out later that he didn’t think that finance and manufacturing would ever again so coincide as to produce a very complicated product at such a very modest price.   The cheap Piccadilly watch shares space with, among many hundreds of examples, James II’s personal pocket watch, a spectacular clock by Nicholas Vallinn, clockmaker to Elizabeth I and the smallest Tompion known, devised for travelling with its own travelling case in the age of carriages.

It was always the ingenuity that held him spellbound, rather than the cosmetic or associated appeal and this is a collection that represents an international review of the measurement of time.   It is easy to say that there is less opportunity for collectors like Ilbert, but this is really not true and there are plenty of well informed people who still enjoy the challenge of acquisition.

Thomas Tompion’s famous year-going Table clock, made for William 111 in 1689, with a lavish case by Dutch architect/designer Daniel Marot – now known as the Mostyn Tompion and displayed in the British Museum

The Mostyn Tompion is a year going spring driven table clock made by Thomas Tompion, known as the Father of English Clockmaking. Created for the Coronation of William III in 1689, it remained in the King’s bedroom until his death.

Guests at the Mostyn Reception in the Museum are allowed to turn the key once to augment the annual winding ceremony, and with other (and with great caution) I did just that on February 23rd.   If the Museum holds its next reception later than February 2018, Mr Tompion’s clock will still run on beyond its stated 12 month cycle.

Not at all bad for a clock created nearly 350 years ago.

Inchbald Spring Lunch 2017

Mrs Duncan and Charles Funke
Nic Savage, Stephanie Mahon and Andrew Duff

The Spring lunch was held this year on Shrove Tuesday at the Cavalry and Guards club, a venue which is very popular with our guests.

Sarah Morgan and Paul Girardot
Frances Penn, David Mlinaric and Susie Rumbold, President of BIID

Guest of honour was David Mlinaric, who long ago worked for Michael and Jacqueline Inchbald before going on to be the leading authority on the restoration of important houses in both England and Ireland. David brought his daughter Frances, who has now started her own studio.

Dean Keyworth, Nina Campbell, Claire Foggett from The English Garden and Annie Stevens
Lulu Lytle from Soane, Broosk Saib and Sammy Wickins from Helen Green Design

All the guests at this event are distinguished in their own spheres; they included Annie Stevens, past President of BIID, Diana Yakeley, also a past President and newly honoured with the OBE for her contribution to the progress of the British Institute of Interior Design.

Keisha Hulsey from Staffan Tollgård and Lavinia Dargie
Joanna Wood, Susie Rumbold, Simon Playle and Mary Fox-Linton

Old friends included architect Guy Greenfield, graduates Tatiana Tarfur, Keisha Hulsey from Staffan Tollgård, Nic Savage now working in Garden Design, and Nina Campbell a long ago student, now internationally famous.

Lulu Lytle and Tatiana Tafur
Alan Hughes and Suzanne Trocmé

It was a lovely day, most suitable for a Spring lunch and everyone enjoyed the event; most particularly hostess Jacqueline Duncan.

Dean Keyworth and Nina Campbell
Guy Greenfield and Sammy Wickins

What price the beauty of antique furniture?

Jacqueline Duncan, OBE, discusses the shift in antiques from private use in homes, to museums and public spaces.

It would appear that the strong links once existing between the world of antique furniture and the design community are now almost non-existent.  It is surely regrettable that furniture produced in the 18th and 19th centuries should be increasingly ignored in terms of private use, to be viewed as exhibits in public spaces rather than enjoyed in the interiors for which they were intended.

The works of the English cabinetmakers in both centuries are not only beautifully designed but are of superb quality.

These are items that not only provide comfort and convenience but are visually a delight, effectively works of art.

Fashion swings from one extreme to another, and the popularity of furniture we called ‘antique’ has given way to the attraction of furniture made of contemporary materials with contemporary finishes, a trend that was started in the thirties and only interrupted by WW2 and the very different priorities of producer and public.

The pressures driving this change of direction are simple; today it is important that the care of an interior design is as simple and as convenient as manufacturers can possibly make it.   Classic furniture and artefacts require classic treatment; thus in a world where hot drinks are served in mugs, polished surfaces become a liability.   Washing up machines are not compatible with fine china and glass; underfloor heating is not good for valuable carpets and in addition to such considerations is the cost of good antiques and the added burden of insurance.

So what is the future for fine period furniture and indeed the professions allied to is distribution?  Is this amazing resource to be side-lined by contemporary designers?

Will such artifacts be relegated to buildings open to the public, for cursory inspection with little further interest in production or provenance?   In addition to the care involved, spiralling costs in both galleries and auction houses have certainly left private middle of the road clients disenchanted and the draconian buyers’ premium now imposed by auctioneers and passed on through the antique trade has not been helpful.

Cost is certainly a part of the thrust behind the fashion for ‘boho’ interiors.

Rooms are furnished with old provincial furniture now valued not for quality but for its aged appearance.   Strange perhaps that, whilst ignoring the appeal of quality and elegant design, clients still crave items that have an appearance of age;  damaged paintwork is applauded as having an ‘interesting patina’ and eccentric artefacts are graced with equally eccentric descriptions in auctioneers’ catalogues.

Is this odd preference a desire for familiarity, an atavistic link to our generic past, a reassurance of historic stability?   Or is it a manifestation of a fundamental difference in perception,  a move to the press button household where material values are a responsibility and the achievement of beautiful design, past or present, is side-lined in the Gadarene rush to the next appointment?

I hope not, if only in the interest of a contemporary contribution to the history of English culture.