Kelly Hoppen & John McLennan
Renowned British interior designer Kelly Hoppen and John McLennan, founder and Managing Director of Indigo Living, talk to LOFT about the launch of Kelly’s new book and her first signature Home furniture range in collaboration with Indigo Living.
Firstly, tell us about your latest book, “Ideas”?
KELLY: This is my seventh book now, and the last three books, including this one, are based on the same principles as the Kelly Hoppen Design School I run. It’s broken down into sections – living rooms, entrance halls etc – so it’s got a real mixture of great visuals, from chalets to apartments in New York and homes in London. We’ve taken a lot of time in crafting informative text and I’ll tell you, after seven books talking about cushions, rugs and furniture it’s no easy task to come up with something new and insightful every time!
Why did you decide to write books?
KELLY: I create comfortable, chic homes for people to live in, but for those people who perhaps can’t afford me to come and give them bespoke couture I wanted to so I wanted to give them inspiration to create their own beautiful living space.
Can you tell us about your Home collection, Kelly?
KELLY: The collection is very much based around the living room; there’s a lot of taupe, lots of lacquer and dark wood and it features iconic pieces I’ve used over the years such as the bubble chair. I wanted to create a capsule collection that would allow anyone to pick and choose the pieces to incorporate into their living space.
JOHN: Similarly, that’s our philosophy at Indigo Living and you can see it in Indigo’s spring collection; the colours and palettes are soft, almost not there, and they accent quite nicely and allow people to create their own look and feel rather than saying “this is your specific look”.
KELLY: Right. I think that one has to be sensitive and sensible that their home is something that grows organically. In that respect, I think both collections are neutral enough that people can stamp their own identity on them, but they also creates a very livable feeling and space.
John, Why did you decide to take Kelly’s collection into Indigo Living’s stable of brands?
JOHN: We have a good relationship with the manufacturer doing the line in China, and found out that he was doing work with Kelly, so when we saw the line at a trade show, probably a year ago now, I lobbied hard to get her business for us in Hong Kong. We’ve known of Kelly for a long time, read her books, and always been an admirer. Indigo Atelier in Prince’s Building is our newest outlet, focusing on handcrafted products and one-off pieces, so suitably you can find Kelly’s Home collection on show there.
How involved do you get in the process, Kelly, from design to display?
KELLY: I like to get fully involved and I’ve been to the factory in China which was fantastic experience. I like to follow the process, from sketches I’d done on scraps of paper to actually seeing someone making it, being packed, shipped and then see John’s team selling it in stores.
What other kinds of projects have been keeping you busy?
KELLY: We’re running about 40-odd projects around the world; hotels, yachts, private planes and cars – including a big hotel in Mauritius and a property for a well-known footballer in London. There’s also the Design School of course, which we’re hoping to open in China along with an online version soon.
How did the Kelly Hoppen Design School come about?
KELLY: The school basically came about because people kept writing to me over the years asking if I’d ever open one. When we eventually did in 2003, to my absolute amazement, we very quickly we had wait-lists of people. It’s just a lovely thing, being able to teach people. We also do a program for underprivileged children and run internships and I’m proud to say that we’ve also unearthed a lot of talent.
Who is your typical student?
KELLY: It’s so varied; we have people flying from Peru, Iceland, Chicago, New York – but something like 60% of our students are from Asia, We get lots from Taiwan, and we’re very big in China. It’s quite humbling to have these people flying across the world to study with me.
What do you think will be the hot trends this year?
KELLY: It’s very easy to misguide people when you start talking about trends. I believe your home has to be an extension of your character; it’s where you wake up, fall asleep and everything to do with your being, whereas trends are inherently changeable – like fashion. What I do, and what Indigo Living does, is to give you your ‘staple diet’. Essentially, like a pair of blue jeans, you want something you can rely on, which you can mix and match and add to, creating your own style.