South African-born British interior designer Kelly Elaine Hoppen has over 40 years of practice and is recognized as one of the most influential women entrepreneurs. Her career started at 16 when she designed a friend’s kitchen. Over the years, she has clearly defined the difference between a designer and a decorator. The nine books that she has authored have been an inspiration and a package of ideas for interior designers around the globe. Her first book, “East meets West”, especially gained popularity because of the design philosophy fostered and presented in the book. It talks about balancing the colours, shapes and textures of the Eastern origin blending with the voguish style of modern times that the West brings. Kelly Hoppen has designed not only homes but also commercial interiors like restaurants, shops, malls, yachts and interiors of jet planes and private aircraft. One of her popular projects was for British Airways when she was appointed to design their first-class cabins. She has also designed office spaces, studios and homes for celebrities such as David and Victoria Beckham and Martin Shaw. Kelly Hoppen often took charge of very small details that don’t usually fall under the umbrella of scope for interior designers. For example, when she designed the restaurant for the Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes, she also fashioned antique napkin rings, cushion buttons and cheeseboard to give the restaurant a personal twist.
Kelly Hoppen also marked her presence on the small and big screens. She began her show called “Superior Interiors with Kelly Hoppen”. In the show, Kelly Hoppen shares her knowledge of designing interior spaces and presents some of her projects. Additionally, she guest appeared in a BBC TV show and a movie.
Kelly Hoppen’s career has been built on authenticity, personal style and the client’s modus operandi, which she understood very well. In 2020, she was awarded ‘an exceptional contribution to the UK as an entrepreneurial and self-made female business owner and a powerful talisman of the talent and forward-leaning nature of global Britain’ on the occasion of the Queen’s birthday. Though the theme and style change for every project she delivers, the focus of her designs has similar design philosophies.
The essence of every design by Kelly Hoppen lies behind the ideology of ‘East meets West. The blend of grounded colours, textures and shapes from the East and the fineness, luxury and richness of the West aims to create a modern look. For instance, see the picture below. The fine lines blending with the white balance the rawness of the base of the side table and the golden lines of the vase. Together it looks like a beautiful story.
Kelly Hoppen strongly believes that luxury found in simplicity is timeless. That is why she manoeuvres neutrals in her design that can withstand time and also look classy. She created homes that can be lived in at any age. She designed homes so that the residents feel the connection with their surroundings and feel like they have been living there for ages. Getting connected to a space because of its design is hard to achieve. So, as the first step in any project, Kelly Hoppen tries to know each owner as much as possible with the aim to give them spaces which feel true to them. On the subject of the latest trends, she says, “I am not a big believer in adapting your home to move with trends as it is very dating to an interior. Adapt your home for the season by changing your accessories, updating your sofa with some new cushions, and hang some new art. But stay strong on the design front, so that is always fresh, but yet so classic”.
She excessively experimented with the colour Taupe, because of which she was also called the “Queen of Taupe”. Her fascination with shades of taupe can be seen in many of her award-winning projects, such as the Loft project in London and the private home at Hamstead Lane. Taupe, a very earthy colour which merges with whites and bold colours, gives a rich and timeless look. For instance, the kitchen of a home at Hamstead lane (pictured below) uses a palette of taupe with clear white marking the solid lines.
Among the other aspects of design, Kelly Hoppen focuses mainly on choosing colours and blending materials. These two aspects play a significant role when creating simple, seamless and easy-to-live-in spaces.
Kelly Hoppen likes to promote retro elements in her design such as watches, painting and traditional patterns in wallpapers. Inspired by travelling to various places, Kelly Hoppen was fascinated by the diversity in Indian cultures, lifestyles and ways of living. She got an opportunity to interior design a luxurious villa in Pune and apartments in Mumbai. More recently, Disney collaborated with Kelly Hoppen to create designer wallpapers, paint, fabrics and murals launched on the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse.
- Hoppen, K. (2016). House of Hoppen, A Retrospective. Jacqui Small Publishers.
- My Design Agenda (2022). The 10 Best Interior Design Projects by Kelly Hoppen. [online]. Available at: https://mydesignagenda.com/best-interior-design-projects-kelly-hoppen/ [Accessed date: 16/07/2022].
- British Institute of Interior Design (2020). Designer Q & A: Kelly Hoppen. [online]. Available at: https://biid.org.uk/features/designer-qa-kelly-hoppen [Accessed date: 16/07/2022].
- Louise Haywood Schiefer (2018). Kelly Hoppen. [photograph].
- Rouse Home (2021). Kelly Hoppen’s “East Meets West” Design Philosophy. [photograph].
- Jacqui Small (2017). 10 Interior Design Projects by Kelly Hoppen You Must See. [photograph].