Daniel Hopwood: West Elm Design Space
Posted on September 11 2017
Daniel Hopwood is taking over this year's London Design Festival and to launch it all off, he has designed an installation at West Elm's Tottenham Court Road store. I meet Daniel to find out more.
The London Design Festival is just around the corner and there is one designer that knows this more than others. Daniel Hopwood is taking over the festival with a series of insightful talks and panel discussions but it is the installation for West Elm that has attracted my attention and I had the great pleasure of meeting Daniel at West Elm's Tottenham Court Road store for him to talk me through his incredible style space in store.
This is such an incredible space. What was the concept behind the design and what you wanted to portray to visitors?
"Before I even started to develop the design, I wanted to be able to bring in items as well as the West Elm designs to demonstrate to visitors that you can mix and combine items from different periods, materials and brands to inject personality and create a story. This is where the idea of placing all these items onto the coffee table came from, trying to portray the idea about a person."
Being an installation for a store rather than a residential interior, how different was the project in comparison to when you are designing a space for a client?
"The challenge with this space is that, as a residential interior designer, I do not have a client. When you have a client, you see how they dress, their approach which helps you construct a design based on their personality. If you remove that, it becomes a very different process."
So without a person present to draw the information from, how did the design process start?
"The way I started with this space is that I picked up the two Silk Corner Floral Cushions and instantly thought that they were fabulous. They are very 70's interpretation Art Deco style, taking the glamour from the 70's which has been combined with the style of today. From this it got me thinking about that very American 1970's style and the houses that Bryan Ferry and Yves St Laurent lived in, where they can take two French 18th Century chairs and place them against a modern sofa."
How has that idea and inspiration evolved into this space?
"Using all gold, something that was very big in the 70's and working with contrasts. Rough textures with smooth, pinks against black, multiple style periods and oversizing. The two over sized lamps, products that I have brought in have enabled me to upscale. There is this perfect rawness to them.
I wanted to work outside the rules of taste. I wanted there to be a style but it didn't have to be tasteful and in neat straight lines and I think we achieved that."
By not having a client, has that also given you a chance to experiment with styles and designs that you might not have the opportunity to do elsewhere?
"I was able to bring in funky fabrics which I thought would be fun to display on the ceiling. That has been a great way to experiment. I also wanted to showcase a different way to display a television in the room by putting it on an easel. This one is actually from my office and is what I used to work on before everything moved digital."
So as you mentioned earlier, the process of this design started with the cushions. Have you created this space with a person or character in mind?
"Yes, I have. In my mind, he is a man, mid 70's, quite louche. We even brought in these little car accessories, the sort of cars that I imagine he would drive. The cigar boxes portray his central London lifestyle."
You mentioned upscaling earlier. I know people shy away from because they imagine it quite hard to do is oversizing. Can this be done with every space?
"Yes of course, just by having a pair of something over scaled makes everything else feels smaller which makes a room feel bigger. That is pretty much it, it only needs to be a pair of something like the lamps in this space to have that impact. If you have a small room, large scale furniture but less of it would be the key"
Talking about the size of space, I know that a lot of people are put off using darker colours because they are afraid it will make a room feel smaller. Is this the case?
"It is actually the complete opposite. Dark colours recede and you see beyond them. You are never going to make a room lighter of bigger than it already is to go for these colours to create atmosphere."
Why is it that so many people tend to decorate or style their homes with only one brand? Is this changing over time?
"I think it is only changing because of interior designers. As designers, we are educating people. There is almost this sense of fear of going outside the box and combining multiple brands. People have relied on brands for years to create these perfect images and spaces for people to buy into. I think what is happening now is that designers are mixing and matching, combining pieces and styles to create designs."
When having a designer may not be attainable for certain individuals, how would you advise on creating this style of design?
"It is going for it and feeling free to do it. You have got to create links, subtle links throughout. If you are going for a crazy mix of furniture such as this then it is the pinks from the cushions pull it together and the theme of gold that runs throughout, which you can see in the accessories, the frame of the coffee table and the mirror. Also, make connections with style periods, if you have two or three pieces from the same period it will stop the design from looking random, it is all about keeping it all cohesive."
With Studio Hopwood projects, I am always amazed at how different each one looks. You said earlier that each project is very personal to each client but do you find that projects before influence future designs or do you always go in with a blank page?
"There are some favourite things that you use time and time again but in a different context but it is completely dictated by your client. There are certain things that you design and work with like, I started working with a couple of years ago with painted angles and that has developed into brass inlays in stained oak. You develop this idea and you work with it, so design going through different projects is quite organic."
The design really is fantastic and one that is worth visiting to experience in person. As I sat in one of the beautiful 18th Century French chairs, looking out into the room, I completely forgot that I was sitting in a store with members of the public shopping around us. This space is exciting, daring and adventurous, showcasing what can be achieved with a simple set of rules and a mixture of styles. Whilst it may have taken a talented designer such as Daniel to create this particular space, its goal is to inspire, taking that risk so others can follow.
Daniel Hopwood's style space in on display at the West Elm Tottenham Court Road store until Friday 15th September. For further information of Studio Hopwood, click to view the official website. Names of West Elm products used within the space can be found below:
Capiz Orb Ceiling Lamps | Art in the Forest Vases | Art in the Forest Cachepot - Scallop | Art in the Forest Cachepots - Herringbone | Reactive Glaze Vases | Mid Century Dining Table | Bone Inlaid Bar Cabinet | Brooklyn Leather Sofa | Agate Side Table | Geo Mirror Storage Side Table | Box Frame Coffee Table | Carved Wood Side Table | Multi Circle Mirror | Jute Boucle Rug | Silk Corner Floral Cushions | Mongolian Lamb Cushions | John Vogel Chair | Lava Rock Terrarium | Decorated Hobstar Glassware | Faceted Mirror Boxes