Bright Young Things

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Anyone who’s enjoyed a touch of showroom hospitality over the past few years (and there will be plenty of that going in Clerkenwell this month!) might have noticed that, like policemen (sorry about the cliché!), designers seem to be getting younger and younger – and it’s not just because the rest of us are getting older and older.

There is a new, incredibly talented generation of interior designers, who, up and down the country and beyond, is producing brilliant, forward-thinking schemes right now.

So we spoke with the people who are tasked with honing the skills and looking after these talented individuals, and asked them to nominate their very own rising stars, explain why they have been selected and, just for a bit of fun, to also tell us which character our young designer would be in a movie.

Each person in our list is under 35 years of age, and each has and continues to impress bosses and clients alike.

Just for the record, our Editor, Mick, won the Mix sweepstake by most accurately guessing the ratio of girls to boys. Before you take a look at the list, why not have a little sweepstake of your own?


20130207-20130207-_MG_5555-2HLW’s Shizuka Nagaya

Nominated by Bronte Turner, Managing Director HLW International

Shiz or Shizza, as she is fondly known, is an integral part if the HLW team globally. Having studied and graduated in New York, she originally joined HLW in New York, and has since worked in the London and Shanghai offices. Her passion for design and delivering design that is first class for her clients has resulted in her having a very loyal client list. Not only is she a great designer, she excels technically and her servicing and commitment to clients, team and projects is not often found in such a young designer. She is a very important part of the HLW family and the London design scene.

Movie character: Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightley) form Pirates of Caribbean. She is very much a strong, beautiful female that works hard and mixes it with the men!



Nicki-Hearne-profile-shot5plus Architects’ Nicki Hearne

Nominated by the Directors at 5plus.

It’s hard to believe Nicki only joined the practice a year ago – she’s like a (very nice) piece of the furniture around here and has certainly made her mark in a short space of time!

Not only is she a talented and hard-working designer who hit the ground running with a number of existing jobs but she has also been instrumental in landing many exciting new clients and projects. She’s a team player with a very positive attitude and an enthusiasm for design that is infectious.

Movie character: If Nicki could be compared to a movie character she would be Erin Brockovich…a gutsy, determined grafter who says it like it is and gets results!


louis_AedusAedas’ Louis Bibby

Nominated by Simon Jackson, Director Aedas

Louis has an ambition within architecture and design to take inspiration from many influential people, but has already developed a strong design philosophy of his own and is always pushing new ways of thinking and challenging norms. He is open to the use of other creative and expressive mediums, that help to craft unique styles and he blends the influence of fashion, graphic design etc. into the commercial arena. Louis is a all rounder, understanding both the technical and the creative aspects of the design process.

Accolades include his short-listing at the world architecture festival for the second year in a row and publications in FX magazine.

Movie character: Although he looks remarkably like Arsenal’s Theo Walcott his preferred movie star is Will Smith.


NicolaPlummerAukett Swanke’s Nicola Plummer

Nominated by Diana Monkhouse, Interiors Principal, Aukett Swanke

She is a highly motivated designer who is adept at developing a client brief and creative design solutions. She accepts all challenges eagerly to participate in design at all levels. She has gentle manner and modest nature but very strong in her design ideas, which she presents well. She has a great range and balance of abilities and will be a great all-round design influence as her career continues to develop.

Movie character: If she were a movie character it would be a ‘Bond girl’ – most likely Miss Moneypenny. She is one to keep the profession on track!


GibbsBDP’s  Christopher Gibbs

Nominated by Mark Simpson, Director of Design, BDP

I hesitated over this, if only because it will only make his head bigger…however, here we go. Chris joined BDP’s ID team in early 2012. Since then he has worked with on a series of national PwC projects including Norwich, which won a BCO Regional Award last year. He was also lead designer on the PwC Newcastle project, which was nominated for a BCO Regional Award this year.

Chris has quickly established himself as a talented and conscientious designer and as such was asked to work on one of our largest fit out projects, the 35,000 sq m scheme for Cambridge Assessment. He has impressed us with his diligence, his ability to take on a senior role on a large project while establishing a very good rapport with the client and design team. The emerging design is very exciting and one we hope will again be an award-winning scheme.

Movie character: The Hobbit.


Beatriz-Scott-brownriggScott Brownrigg’s Beatriz Gonzalez

Nominated by Andi Theokle, Associate, Scott Brownrigg

I believe that Beatriz is a rising star within our industry as one of the most well liked and well respected interior designers across the board. The most popular phrase attributed to ‘B’ when it was public knowledge that she was joining SB was, ‘oh she’s so lovely!’ – and that came from the four corners of our industry and all the areas inbetween.

It’s incredibly important to be a person first and foremost, which helps the pure creativity be realised.

Movie character: GI Jane.


BFimageBuckleyGrayYeoman’s Blaithin Farry

Nominated by Laura O’Hagan, Associate Director BuckleyGrayYeoman

After working on several high profile hospitality projects in Ireland, Blaithin joined BuckleyGrayYeoman in 2012. She has since delivered Phase 2 of the refurbishment the Grade II boarding houses at Roedean School, Brighton. She is currently overseeing the comprehensive refurbishment of another listed building in Brighton for Education First Language School.  Blaithin strives to create spaces which are beautiful, supremely functional and a true reflection of the client’s aspirations.

Movie character: If she were a movie character it would be Mia from Pulp Fiction!


RosPoerwantoroAukett Swanke’s Rosalind Poerwantoro

Nominated by Diana Monkhouse, Interiors Principal, Aukett Swanke

Ros is a great designer she has excellent 3D skills and a good understanding of how this relates to technical details, always important when achieving good design. She also has her eye on working smarter, getting the best from the team and being open and honest in her approach. She has a passion for design and has strong design ethos and she will happily ‘fight’ for it, she uses her 3d skills well to achieve this and this is most definitely the future!

Movie character: If she were a movie character it would probably be Maggie from Million Dollar Baby – she is a keen kick boxer and never gives up!


BDG_Portrait_HelenBedfordBDG’s Helen Bedford

Nominated by Gill Parker, BDG Managing Director.

Helen is a Senior Designer at BDG. She immerses herself in each project she works on and has a broad range of skills, which has seen her working not only on concept design and FF&E specification but also on the detailed technical design that is required during the production information phase. Helen has managed various projects from inception through to delivery whilst at BDG, including refurbishments, major renovation and new build design. Clients have included Maxus, Grey, Geometry, EDF Energy and Rostelecom.

Movie character: Susan Storm from the Fantastic Four – can become invisible and generate impact resistant force shields!


KaraSpacelab’s Kara Wood

Nominated by Andrew Budgen, Partner at Spacelab

Kara joined Spacelab from leaving University 10 years ago and in that period has progressed from a junior interior designer to Director and has been instrumental in Spacelab’s design development and growth from 6-45 people during that period.

Her attention to detail, whilst also being capable of seeing the bigger picture and understanding organisational and design strategy, is second to none and invaluable to both our clients and our staff. A great sense of humour, coupled with her professional demeanour, has proved her to be a true pleasure to work with.

Movie character: Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (but less vicious)


Emily-HumeTP Bennett’s Emily Hume

Nominated by Cristiano Testi, Project Director, TP Bennett.

Since joining TP Bennett, Emily has made invaluable contributions to the team. She is very calm, collected, diligent, and always approaches new challenges with a smile and an unflustered approach, whilst taking time to guide and mentor more junior staff. Emily is passionate about design, and her meticulous approach to quality and detail underpin a sheer determination to get things right. She is popular with her colleagues and industry peers alike.


angela_Bardino_edited-1Resonate Interiors’ Angela Bardino

Nominated by Pernille Stafford, Managing Director, Resonate Interiors

Angela is a real ‘treasure trove’ of information, constantly finding new and creative finishes and inspired opportunities on our projects. With a background in Hospitality and FF and E she adds another softer dimension to our commercial projects. Also as a young mother she does an amazing job of juggling home and worklife, because of this she is also our Studio Team mum looking after us all. Angela is kind, resourceful and creative and a hugely important part of the Resonate team.


Debbie-Brant-KSS_HeadShots_20Jan2015_photographerBronacMcNeill_HR-1522-2KSS’ Debbie Brant

Nominated by the Directors at KSS

Debbie leads our interior design team, and her broad experience, creativity and professionalism has meant that she has been an instrumental team member in our most prestigious projects. She believes in the practice ethos of understanding client values and ambitions as the means of generating ideas. Her natural sense of style, attention to detail and ability to communicate ideas means she is widely liked by her clients, and she was deservedly made an Associate Director of the practice in 2015.

Movie character: Road Runner – yes, the speedy bird!


Raquel-Aparicio-1Aukett Swanke’s Raquel Aparacio

Nominated by Diana Monkhouse, Interiors Principal, Aukett Swanke

Raquel has naturally refined taste and an expert eye for balancing colour, texture and materials with light in the creation of sophisticated, interiors. With her experience in luxury casinos and hotel interiors, she is passionate about quality in every aspect of her design; her attention to detail is second nature. Proactive and collaborative, Raquel is comfortable working with any size of project and team, always keen to engage with others to learn and to share her own knowledge; key characteristics for design leaders of the future.

Movie character: If she were a movie character it would probably be Beatrice Ocean in Ocean’s Eleven.


Stephenie-WhittonAlign GB’s Stephenie Whitton

Nominated by Align Partners Gurvinder Khurana and Nigel Tresise.

Stephenie joined us from Area Sq 12 months ago now and has firmly cemented her position as a key member of the team. She’s 26 years old and hails from deepest Essex – but you will never find her in white stilettos, she’s more likely to be sourcing snacks for her pet snake! Having joined us with a solid (studio-based) design background we’ve pushed her hard to develop her client handling skills and contractor liaison – and she’s risen to the challenge. She is a quick thinker and steadily now finding her feet in offering up creative ideas when we have collective team design sessions. We believe no idea voiced is a waste – you never know what spark it might light and Stephenie is embracing that idea. We think she is definitely one to watch!


Scott_Brownrigg_C_2013_10_31_N469Scott Brownrigg’s Steve Wood

Nominated by the Directors at Scott Brownrigg

Creative genius, super calm, passionate, cool…but more importantly clients love him – and he is passionate about the success of every stage of their project. Steve is a creative all-rounder with unlimited enthusiasm that brings both energy and calm to the studio. ‘Super Steve’ dashes from client meetings to the trapeze bar without losing his style. Steve is an integral part of the Scott Brownrigg team – we hope he doesn’t run away with the circus!

Movie character: Edward Bloom from the movie Big Fish.


Sarah-DodsworthSpaceInvader’s Sarah Dodsworth

Nominated by SpaceInvader Director Simon Millington.

Sarah is a very rare talent – she is creatively inspirational, technically accomplished and a well-grounded, personable Yorkshire lass. She is great to work with and I have enjoyed watching her career develop, from picking up her first BCO award in her twenties to now running four significant change management and interiors projects for one of our biggest clients, AstraZeneca. Sarah balances the commercial needs of our business, the exacting requirements of our clients and the demands of her young family, whilst producing unique, intelligent, agile environments. Her ability to deliver conceptual beauty within a working floorplate is what makes her a rising star.


Dean-HattonHarmsen Tilney Shane’s Dean Hatton

Nominated by Andrew Bartlett, Director at Harmsen Tilney Shane

I have known Dean for around 20 years – since he was at school with my own children. When the time came for him to decide upon a future career, in spite of my best attempts to dissuade him, he elected to study for, and ultimately enter the design profession. 18 months ago he sent me his latest portfolio to comment on – and I realised my earlier mistake and quickly offered him a job!!

Dean is a natural designer, thriving on the challenging creative environment provided by HTS and certainly has a bright future to look forward to.

Movie character: Got to be Tintin to my Captain Haddock!


OBI_Anna_LysikOBI Property’s Anna Lysik

Nominated by OBI Property Director James Christian Scott.

Anna is a very talented young interior designer and I am proud she is a member of our workplace consultancy team. She shows flair and an eye for detail, which constantly exceed our clients’ expectations. Her ideas and designs are used in many of our projects, including those for AO.com, BCL Legal, Pannone Corporate and Car Loans, to name a few.

She joined us in December 2013, having graduated with a first class honours degree in Interior Design from the University of Central Lancashire. She quickly proved to be an indispensable team member, more than willing to go that extra mile, not just in her design work but in her face-to-face contact with clients, thoroughly understanding their business and requirements.

Movie character: If Anna were a movie character she would be Wonder Woman!


Mima-Romanic(1)Aukett Swanke’s Mima Romanic

Nominated by Diana Monkhouse, Interiors Principal, Aukett Swanke

Mima is upbeat and creative designer; she is also a great communicator priding herself on knowing the suppliers and products within our ever-changing interior design industry. Her designs are often innovative using the latest products, materials and finishes. As her career develops I am sure she will be called upon for her attention to detail and knowledge, always approachable and always helpful.

Movie character: If she were a movie character it would probably be Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality


IMG_7420NoChintz’s Leanne Wookey

Nominated by Natalie Gray, Director, NoChintz

Starting out as intern four years ago, having quit her job in the public sector to move to more creative environments, Leanne soon rose through the ranks at NoChintz from junior designer through to Director. Now a board member heading up the the largest and fastest growing area of NoChintz, Workspace design, she is supported by a creative and dynamic team of designers. An undoubted bright young thing, Leanne’s impressive career to date has seen her undertake projects of all sizes and budgets and execute them with panache. Recent achievements include designs for clients Bruntwood, Peel Holdings and JD Sport.  She was also recipient of the J. Reston Law award for outstanding achievements in the Creative Arts as well as scooping the runner-up place in a live project competition at the former Urbis gallery in Manchester.

Movie Character: Road Runner, as she is always moving at 100mph with extreme ambition, pace and a strong voice. Meep Meep!