Design School Graduate Guest Post: Chelsea Frazer

Kelly started a new session of her Design School in London today so we thought it would be a great time to have a recent graduate share her first hand experience of the course. I had the pleasure of meeting Chelsea Frazer in September while she was attending Kelly’s School. Read on find out what she thought of Kelly’s Design School.

At a very young age, my Mother thankfully introduced me to the work of Kelly Hoppen. Mom would point out Kelly’s designs in magazines, in books, and other publications. Since then, I literally swoon over each incredible interior she designs. Having actively followed her work and read all of her books, one thing I began to understand was her keen business acumen. I have admired all things Kelly Hoppen.

Recently, I took a deep breath and started my own interior design company in Nashville, Tennessee. It has been somewhat challenging coming right out of University and diving right into my own business, trying to find my own way. Right when I really needed it, my parents delivered the best birthday present: a week at The Kelly Hoppen Design School in London. Now that will make a young designer really swoon!

I immediately began planning for this unique and incredible opportunity, refreshing all of my knowledge of Kelly Hoppen and arranging my trip to one of my most favorite places.
One word describes the course: fabulous! The course is a brilliant week of learning from individual lectures given by Kelly culminating with designing your very own project for Kelly’s instructional critique. The class size is small, and everyone is very excited to be in Kelly’s splendid studio and absorb as much as possible.

Kelly covers everything from A to Z. She gave us advice on how to manage design projects from start to finish, deal with the demands and whims of clients, and use her wonderful tips in creating successful, knockout interiors. Kelly also favored us with special guest lecturers who are experts in niche fields. Lecture topics included scale & space planning, schedules and budgeting, lighting, color and texture, fabrics, design & accessories, furniture, soft furnishings, kitchen, bathroom, flowers, and art. Kelly’s secrets and tips truly are key ingredients to a successful interior design business.

I learned much for certain, yet the most valuable message I received from Kelly is simple and elegant: believe in myself. Kelly, in affirming my knowledge, eye, and ability, counseled me to be confident and trust my design instincts. The week was truly extraordinary, giving me vast amounts of knowledge, confidence, and drive.

Thank you so much, Kelly. Your inspiration and encouraging words will shepherd me for the rest of my career. You gave me just the right mix of knowledge and confidence, helping me to ignore the irrational fears of a young designer!

Chelsea Fraser is the owner of Chelsea Frazer Interior Design in Nashville, USA. She is on twitter and blogs about interior design and her projects.

You have the chance to win your own place at Kelly’s Design School in her ‘Create the Look‘ Facebook Competition


The #DesignDebate: a recap

Last night I had the pleasure of attending (and Live tweeting from!) the launch event for Kelly Hoppen’s ‘Home Style’ app at the Soho Hotel. It was an intimate group of 50 and a great mix of people from interiors, fashion, digital and few of Kelly’s close friends.

The big event for the night was a debate on the future of Interiors and how it could follow the lead of fashion and music in embracing the digital space. There were great panellists including Leon Bailey-Green from the Online Fashion Agency, Dusan Hamlin from M&C Saatchi Mobile, Richard Cohen from Kyte (amazing content platform) and of course Kelly herself. I was tweeting like a madwoman so people could follow along via twitter using #designdebate so when I went through the tweets again today it was great to be able to pick up key themes that emerged.

Ironically for a representative of a digital platform, Richard spent most of the night reminding us that outlets are interchangeable and content is the most important element for businesses and designers to consider.

As a believer in the altruistic nature of the social web I think you need to look at how you can add value before you create content. Find what people need, not want you want to sell, and your products or services will ultimately do well because you are filling a gap. Richard cited the example of the band Nine Inch Nails who have given away their last 5 albums for free and yet people still lined up to buy lovely packaged box sets. Or (gasp) McFly who are using augmented reality to give their fans a glimpse into their homes and creative process even though they aren’t releasing an album any time soon.

The interiors world can really capitalise on this idea of value added content because as Kelly mentioned last night people are nervous when it comes to making big decisions about how to design their homes. While it may seem counter intuitive to talk about your design process, offer tips or share great resources by doing so you find a new and receptive audience that you wouldn’t otherwise reach.

I talk endlessly about how the social web is network of people (in fact I dedicated two years of my life to writing a masters degree on it!) so it was great to hear all the panellists stressing the importance of building a community around you through interaction. It’s not just about building an audience, as Richard rightly pointed out, by connecting with people you can get great feedback on your content. He called it the ‘mutualisation of content’ but really it’s about having a dialogue and what better place to do it then on the web!

Leon mentioned the rise of the blogosphere in fashion and the emergence of influencers/mavens. The fashion industry has rightly realised that bloggers are very influential because they inspire others, particularly the community they have built around them online. Bloggers are now invited to launch parties, sit in the front row at fashion shows and are courted by PR’s because they are really important tastemakers and advocates.

The interiors world really should be following suit. Kelly has some great blogs listed here on her blog roll and that is a great place to start. It would be nice for other well known designers to follow Kelly’s lead and embrace the digital space through twitter, blogging and facebook. The web is a powerful tool for communication and collaboration and its influence is only going to increase. Establish a presence now, find people to connect with and start a conversation or get left behind.

Ok this topic was a bit extreme even for me but I guess that’s always the case with emerging trends. I think it’s important to have a sense of what is out there and what could be used to provide value to your community. I could see that as Richard and Dusan were chatting through the concept of AR Kelly was really inspired and she spoke about incorporating it onto a building site…that might be a way off yet but it’s important to look at the possibilities of applications and technologies.

As you know Kelly released her own ‘Home Style’ app but it wasn’t without a lot of thought as to how people would use it. After looking at the app it quickly becomes apparent that aside from being gorgeous it is highly functional and useable. It might not be realistic for everyone to create an app for their business but that doesn’t excuse those who can from creating really rubbish ones. As Leon said, an app gives a consumer confidence. When they download your app they want your advice and expertise so they can be confident in what they are doing. Frankly, if it doesn’t do what it says on the tin your bad app could do damage to your reputation. The apps market will only continue to grow as more and more smart phones are released and we move from 3G to 4G but you can’t forget about the content, the audience and ultimately how your app will add value to the lives of others when you decide to create one.

I hope you’ve liked my round up of the discussion but we will also be posting a full text transcript of the debate for you to take a look at a draw your own conclusions. I really hope Kelly’s Design Debate marks the start of a dialogue in the interiors community about how to embrace digital for business success and offering real value to others.

Image Credit: The shot of AR on the iphone is from PlantronicsWorkshop and I created a tag cloud using wordle of Kelly’s blog roll.