You are best known as a successful interior designer, author and entrepreneur, tell us about your background?
I grew up in a creative and enterprising family, with strong personalities. I have always had a great interest in interior design, even as a child. At the time, I thought about becoming an architect, but instead I ended up in the newspaper business after doing everything possible for some years.
England suffered long as the consequences of the Second World War, and modern decor was not not in high regard. We were a conservative people with fairly traditional flavor. It was not until the late 1980s that people began to make money and take an interest in culture again. It was during that period that I was hired as editor in chief of Elle Decoration.
I have read that you have the mostly have a team of female colleagues. Is that true, and if so, why?
I pick good people to work with, it's as simple as that. Moreover, it is true that women have a good feel for the interior, they are organised and I have a good head for women who have children and are trying to put the puzzle of life together. Today, the studio has a total of 25 employees of many different nationalities and most are women.
When you create your interiors, you frequently use design classics. Why?
I like things that are part of ordinary life. They should be simple but elaborate and of high quality. There is a reason that a certain piece of furniture becomes a classic.
You often use pieces by Scandinavian designers. What is so special about Scandinavian design?
In Scandinavia, have you had many designers and furniture designers who have been great thinkers, and have also been "doers". Often, the furniture is created on the basis of a well-functioning everyday life, rather than to manifest one direction or political views, such as the Bauhaus did.
What do you think about the new production of designer furniture?
In some exceptional cases, the newly produced objects are made of better materials than they were originally. But I prefer when you can follow a piece of furniture's life. The sad thing is the new replica of a piece of design will be a shadow of its true self.
What are the prerequisites for good design?
Today, good design work in both the home and the world of work. The boundaries are erased, no longer can we distinguish between the two worlds.
What is your design philosophy?
It is very philosophical. I want to create environments that are based on man and the one who lives and moves in that environment. It must be simple and substantial.
What are the key ingredients to a successful interior?
People! A good interior design does not work if you do not add people. It's about how you use spaces and surfaces. I often emanates from the kitchen which is a home's heart, where people gather, socialise, and spend quality time.
What is your first step when are given an interior design projects?
It is about understanding the client, no two are the same. Some want to be very involved in decision-making, while others leave the entire job to us. We spend a lot of time with the customer, visit environments and places the person likes, before we start work.
You are behind the interior of Stockholm's only a 6-star hotel, the multi award-winning "One Home." Did you have free rein?
You always have a budget to consider, but we had a great amount of time to create the "One Home", which you can feel in the result. The idea of the hotel is that it really should be like coming home, you can go down to the kitchen and take a sandwich and whilst chatting with someone else sitting there. There are guests who do not leave the hotel from the moment they check in to the moment they check out.
You mix in some older pieces with the new? Why?
I see a good decor as a life-line. We are not created out of an era, but shaped by a whole life.
How important is the architecture?
It's very important. To the extent, where possible, we want to always be involved from the beginning of the project. In an old house, it is about adapting and taking advantage of the architecture and details.
What is your dream project?
I think it would be extremely interesting to work with mental health agencies and see what they would see as an achievement of design, by adapting the environment for the people living and staying there.
You are known in Sweden; for a collection of furniture and pieces designed for IKEA, an exhibition at Modernity and for being nominated for the Collector Award. Tell us about your collaboration with IKEA?
Last year,I colloborated with IKEA, which was great fun. I'm impressed by them and their work, and we developed a collection that I think was very good.
You work a lot with cork in your collection? Why cork?
I would like to diversify the materials I work with. When I met a cork producer in Portugal, who had been making wine corks for generations, I was so intrigued. They have been forced to find new use for their product as large parts of the world's wine production now uses a screw cap. Waxing cork is perfect to use in interior, even for dining tables and chair seats. In addition, it has the effect of sound-dampening.
It is not the first time you have collaborated with Modernity, tell me more.
I have worked with them before, but this time, I have created a place for Modernity with several of their beautiful furniture and objects along with two of my self-designed and newly manufactured furniture.
The sofa I designed originally in 2007, but it is only now we have taken it into production, after making a few minor adjustments from the original drawing. It is handmade by George Smith.
What do you do when you have a free Sunday?
I love London, to go for long walks along the Thames. In the evening, cook my Colombian husband a delicious dinner.