Interior Design Personal Shopper at Design Centre Chelsea.
One of Chelsea’s hidden gems is the Design Centre , which is situated right next door to Wyndham Grand Chelsea. Packed with some of the UK’s hottest interior design talent, the Design Centre houses showrooms and brands that are well beyond the heights of cool. From fabrics to wallpaper to furniture and lighting, if you’re looking to decorate your property or perhaps just need some inspiration, the Design Centre is a must.
We recently caught up with Charlie Ford, personal shopper to hire when it comes to creating interiors that have that WOW factor, to find out exactly what she does and where she gets the inspiration to do it.
1. How and when did you decide that ‘Interior Design’ was where you wanted to pursue a career?
I have always been passionate about interior design having inherited the bug from my parents – they read The World of Interiors magazine avidly when I was a child and I am lucky enough to now have their back catalogue which spans several decades. I used to be an actor and would always redecorate every bedroom I rented which would often then lead to redoing the whole flat or house. My friends then started asking me for interior design advice and I ended up physically doing it for them in between acting jobs. So therefore when I decided to give up acting it was an obvious choice to switch to interior design and I haven’t looked back.
2. In your view, what is it about the Design Centre that makes it a fantastic place to shop for interiors?
The fact that it’s all here under one roof. You can shop for lighting and furniture as well as fabrics and wallpaper along with flooring and accessories. It is full of inspiration and ideas and being able to see such large samples of fabrics really helps one visualise how it might look in your home.
3. As an interiors personal shopper, talk us through a typical day?
I normally meet up with a client in the morning and we have a consultation where I find out exactly what they are looking for. I always ask them to bring in photographs of the rooms to be redecorated along with any samples they already have or magazine articles they like the look of to help me establish their style and taste straight away. I then take them around the showrooms that I feel will have what they’re looking for. Every appointment varies in length as it totally depends on the client and how much time they have or how long it takes to find the perfect item. Often I spend a couple of hours with a client and they then spend the rest of the day going around all the showrooms on their own with a break for lunch or a cup of coffee in one of our cafes in between. Often they just do one room at a time and come back to see me when they are ready to tackle the next one.
4. What’s your favourite piece of furniture currently in your own home?
A pair of vintage chrome lamp bases that I bought at an antiques fair. They give me pleasure every single day.
5. Are there any famous interior designers that have left an impression you and why?
Dorothy Draper, the legendary American decorator, who achieved superstar status between the 1930’s and 1960’s. She had an extraordinary sense of drama and scale which had never been seen before and must have been incredibly exciting at the time. And secondly our own home grown legend, David Hicks, who was a true genius and master.
6. Where do you find inspiration when you need a ‘top-up’?
The Victoria & Albert Museum and antiques fairs. The V&A is my favourite museum in London with endless inspiration around every corner and an incredible book shop. And you can’t beat a glimpse at the past for inspiration at antiques fairs; it can come from the simplest thing whether it’s a vintage piece of fabric or a beautiful painting.
7. What is THE best thing about your job?
The fact that I get to meet lots of interesting people and that every day is different and wonderfully creative.
8. How do you manage to keep up with current ‘interiors trends’?
Because I am based here in Design Centre Chelsea Harbour I am right in the heart of it so always get to see the latest collections as soon as they come out. However I try not to be too led by trends. Everyone’s style is different as is they way they live their lives so their home is completely unique to them. It is therefore much more important that your home is somewhere you love being in every day regardless of whether it is on trend or not.
9. Is personal shopping for interiors an art or a science?
A bit of both. The science is that there is a formula one can use to determine what sort of person they are and what style they like but the art is being able to pinpoint exactly which showroom will have the product they are looking for and then ultimately finding it – the end result can be hugely satisfying – for both of us!