With 40 years’ experience at the forefront of the design industry, Kelly Hoppen is one of the most celebrated and sought after interior designers in the world. It was her relentless passion for design, at 16 years old, which kick-started her iconic career. Her first commission, to design a friend’s kitchen, has led to multiple awards and numerous publishers and businesses seeking her unparalleled expertise. Kelly’s globally renowned and ever-evolving style is underpinned by a subtle coordinated fusion of East meets West: clean lines and neutral tones, blended with charming warmth and sumptuous opulence. She has put her stamp on the homes, yachts and jets of private clients all over the world and now focuses on commercial projects including hotels, bars, restaurants, offices and tower blocks. With thousands of projects spanning the last four decades, Kelly’s portfolio boasts a diverse selection of projects. In this final Impression of 2018, we thought it fitting to celebrate Kelly’s extraordinary career…
You’ve gone from designing a family friend’s kitchen at 16, to creating interiors for the David & Victoria Beckham. Was it always your plan to design for celebrities?
I never planned to design for celebrities, it just happened – I simply create real homes for real people. Designing someone’s home is about creating something that reflects their personality and taste. Celebrity clients are just like everyone else – we all have the same insecurities and goals.
What does your own home style look and feel like?
I approached my own home in the same way as I would a client’s, setting out to create a sanctuary and a space where I could truly feel at home. Each room should serve a different purpose. If you don’t love them all equally, then something has gone terribly wrong with the design – there should be a flow between the rooms. That’s perhaps why it is so important to take time and have patience, and to put the same amount of effort into each room in the home.
Tell us more about your recent work on the LUX* Grand Gaube resort in Mauritius?
We launched LUX* Grand Gaube earlier this year. It’s the second resort I’ve designed for LUX* on the island, and I’ll never tire of visiting there; it’s such a special place. The surrounding area of the resort reminded me of where I was born, Africa, so I drew inspiration and influence from that. I aimed for the LUX* Grand Gaube in Mauritius to feel isolated as if the guests were secluded on their own beautiful island. I visited recently with my family and I just had the most incredible, relaxing time.
You have said, ‘How people feel in a space is as important as the way it looks; one can’t be without the other to succeed.’ Where does a project start for you? The feel or the look?
Definitely the look – as this will dictate how you feel in the space. I will always start with a neutral base and build on that. My design philosophy fuses the eastern principles of simplicity with the western desire for luxury to create timeless interiors. The three key things to consider when designing a space are texture, colour and proportion. These maintain harmony in a space, which is essential.
How did you find designing the Celebrity Edge cruise ship, due for its maiden voyage at the end of this year?
It was an amazing challenge but that’s the main reason I took the project on, and I was so happy with the results. Everything about designing it was a highlight, from the suites to the spa. We spent two years designing the ship and it really has been my design baby and something totally new for me after 40 years within the industry. I really do think people will be blown away by the design boundaries we have broken on Edge and I cannot wait for everyone to finally get to see it when it sails later this year.
Since expanding your talents to textiles and accessories with the launch of kellyhoppen.com in 2014, you’ve collaborated with big names. What are you currently working on?
I have recently launched a range of commercial fabrics with Richloom, which was my second collection with them. For me, textures play a huge part in interiors but when it comes to hospitality design, it’s really difficult to find commercial grade fabrics that have the same tactility as those you would use in residential interiors. I wanted to change that. The beautiful textures within this collection are truly revolutionary for commercial fabrics, and I’ve been delighted to use them in my projects. I have a collaboration with a huge name coming up in September… but you’ll have to watch this space!
Is there an area of design that you have not yet explored?
There aren’t many areas of interior design I haven’t worked in now, and I find all of them engaging in their own right, but I’ve always been really intrigued by set design, how it captures the era and gives insight into a character’s personality. Creating the right interiors plays a huge part in cinema. It literally sets the scene.
Is there a particular project that stands out as truly special for you? Something that you will always remember?
Every project I have worked on has its own special qualities and differs from others. However, Celebrity Edge was very special for me as it was so different. I’ve also recently just completed a spectacular project in Taiwan – the One Park Towers in Taipei. It was a huge project – two luxury residential towers that are amongst the highest residential buildings in Taipei – that I’ve been working on for five years. I designed the ground and lower floors, the VIP areas for both the North and South tower, as well as a show apartment in each building. It’s a breath-taking space, and I wanted the interior to reflect the exceptional exterior. From the minute you open the door and enter the building, you are filled with great joy.
Who do you admire most in the world of design?
There are some incredible individuals I adore, such as Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers, as well as fashion designers – Chanel, Azzedine Alaïa, Givenchy etc. I am a huge fan of Charles and Ray Eames; their pieces are iconic and will never go out of style.