Maison et Objet Paris, one of the greatest tradeshows in the interior design industry and also one of the best design event in Paris,, chose to honour Ilse Crawford in its September edition, by naming her Designer of the year 2016. Every edition, Maison et Objet gives one selected designer a space entirely dedicated to them, where they have the opportunity to showcase their work and express their design practice.
The former editor-in-chief of ELLE Decoration UK founded her multi-disciplinary practice Studioilse in 2001 and since then she has been one of the most successful interior designers in Britain. Reasons more than enough to put her in the spotlight.
Following her recognition, Ilse Crawford has created an area at the fair called the ‘designer’s studio’ — a haven amidst the trade show’s visual noise. It was for sure a highlight of the tradeshow and made us want to know more about the designer. If you too, want to know more, read this exclusive interview from Dezeen.
Tell us about yourself.
As the head of Studioilse, I mostly design interiors. But, in fact, we do a lot more than that here. Because, I think, interiors are ultimately where we live, they are a lot more than pieces of furniture. They’re really about interior life, how we live as human beings.
How do you describe your work and the philosophy behind it?
We do a huge range of projects: residential, retail, offices and hospitality development. We’ve been working with developers recently to determine how to put the human being at the beginning of the programme of development, rather than the estate agent – how to make some of their buildings more liveable. The studio essentially focuses on space from the point of view of the human being inside it. We’re physical beings and ultimately buildings are a frame for life. That’s how we approach them. It’s not an intellectual activity. You experience interiors through your body.
Have your Scandinavian roots influenced your work?
Not consciously but invariably. I was brought up, I realise now, in that Danish ideal of the warm, modern home. The Scandinavians very early on approached modern furniture from the point of view of using natural materials and wood instead of metal. Scandinavians, particularly Alvar Aalto, disapproved of what they called the inhuman touch of cold steel. So, yes, I was certainly brought up with that feeling. Also, the thing about Scandinavia is that it kind of became modern on a national scale much earlier than, for example, Britain. So I grew up thinking that everyone was modern. There’s still a big gap, I would say, between Sweden and Denmark and Britain.
Can you provide some examples of how you apply your approach?
We put wellbeing at the core of all our projects, and when we talk about wellbeing, we certainly don’t mean simply a spa. For example, we did a small residential development in Hong Kong called TwoTwoSix Hollywood Road that was about making a connection to its location, so it didn’t create a sort of black hole in the street, which is common in most developments there; the buildings are very introverted and you lose any sense of them being inhabited. Then, within the apartments, we started from the point of view of life. We gave them a strong material language, making sure there was the right combination of warm and cool materials because we all want to have a tactile connection to where we live, right down to the finishes. We made sure the windows were fully openable. We had places where you could put things easily and practical stuff like lots of storage. That’s also part of being human.