An unstoppable force

by SUZANNE MIAO on Nov 4, 2010 in Architecture , Interiors
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To say that Kelly Hoppen is a designer is like saying the Amazon is a river or the Sahara desert is a little dry – ‘multi-tasking’ barely describes what fills her waking hours

Interior designer Kelly Hoppen, MBE, has just unveiled the Kelly Hoppen Home Collection in an exclusive worldwide launch in Hong Kong in conjunction with Indigo Living. That’s just one element of many: at last count, she will also be launching a paint range with B&Q, a ceramic range with Asiatides, a home fragrance and candle collection, a lighting range with Kevin Reilly Lighting, a carpet and rug range with Toulemonde Bochart and a stationery collection with Claire Fountaine. Then there’s the Kelly Hoppen app for both iPhone and iPad and her own lifestyle website in conjunction with UK daily The Mirror , plus an expanding social network with Twitter and Facebook. Plus, of course, Hoppen runs her own design school, which she hosts at her West London studio… oh, and there’s that new TV show she’ll be hosting on terrestrial TV in the UK next year.

‘These things happen because you meet people and have conversations and these lead to ideas,’ says Hoppen. ‘Jamie Oliver, for example, is one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met. He does so many things – as I do – and in both our cases, our brains just don’t get overwhelmed.’

Hoppen is, in fact, dyslexic; she notes that many entrepreneurs are. ‘I can understand everything, but if it’s a string of numbers, for example, I’m completely lost because it all gets mixed up… I don’t draw very well, either – I literally do my sketching on a piece of loo paper.’Finding the right people to realise her creative visions – craftsmen, draftsmen, manufacturers, business partners – is therefore critical. The Kelly Hoppen Home Collection, for example, is entirely hand-made in China.’People think manufacturing in China is all about mass,’ notes Indigo Living managing director John McLennan, ‘but that is certainly not true.’

In the Kelly Hoppen Home Collection, the designer’s trademark simple but opulent approach to interior design is reflected in more than 30 pieces of vintage-inspired living and dining items. The range includes sofas, armchairs, chaises, coffee tables, side tables, trunks and dining furniture as well as bespoke cushions.

‘It’s all part of the Kelly Hoppen brand – everything works together; it is a very ‘easy’collection. I prefer to create things which are easy for people to use; whatever item they choose, it will work with their existing décor now and in the future. I want them to feel that any piece is anything they want it to be, décor-wise.’

The pieces in the Kelly Hoppen Home Collection are available in a wide variety of fabrics and finishes, made from premium leather sourced from Brazil and Argentina, quality oak and pine from northern China and high-quality lacquer finishes. Hand-crafted using traditional methods by teams of artisans, items are individually polished and tarnished; nails are hammered one by one; all materials are cut, dyed, tanned and stitched by hand.

‘I was blown away when I went to the factory,’ says Hoppen. ‘To get 90 per cent of a collection signed off on first visit is almost unheard of… there is a huge amount of pride among the craftsmen; each piece is hand-made and there are huge possibilities for the future.’

Hoppen’s affiliation with Asia goes back to the very beginnings of her career when, at the age of 17, she bought a Chinese lacquer trunk from a London market stall. ‘That’s when I started my business; I started to read about this part of the world and basically fell in love with Asia… this is why my first book was titled East Meets West. It was such a moment in global design fusion; the world became smaller.’

Accessibility is a key element of the Kelly Hoppen Home Collection – as the designer herself notes, ‘my motto has always been ‘less is more’ ‘ – so, for example, the classic hanging bubble chair has been reimagined so that it now sits on the floor, and is available in smoked taupe acrylic. And, perhaps most importantly for Hong Kong consumers, scale has also been taken into consideration. ‘The sizes work for Hong Kong apartments, too,’ says McLennan. ‘There are big items, yes, but also small ones, so you don’t need to have a 4,000 sq-ft flat.’

So, what’s next on the Kelly Hoppen rollercoaster? A new shop opening in Barbados next month, a range of just-launched furniture with Halo to be sold worldwide, assignments with Pearl Yachts designing their interiors in 2011… and that’s just for starters.

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