It was a real treat to go to the Nina Campbell ‘Master Class’ in her boutique in Walton Street last week. I do try to attend talks by designers every now and then – to get ideas, learn from their experiences and to put a little spring back into my step. But this was unlike any talk that I had gone to before. I found the intimacy of this event surprising and charming – Nina and her attentive son Max were there to cater for our every need. Tea? Coffee? Croissant with a napkin? And this is one of her trademarks: the warm welcome and the anticipation of what her guests might need.
She began talking about luxury and how, probably, we would all be envisaging opulent fabrics, yachts, swimming pools and jets (yes I was). Yet luxury, she points out, needs the context of the individual. Luxury to some could be as simple as a beautifully boiled egg; to others, time with their grandchildren. Her overall point was that a designer needs to respond to their client because, unless you really get to know the individual, it is unlikely that you are going to deliver something that is going to delight them. Anyone can decorate a room using gorgeous colours and fabrics she says – but, for the room to work, much more thought and anticipation of what the client needs is required.
Her tastes have changed. Mine have too I think – much less rigid about what I like and don’t like. She collects. She’s gone from matching everything to mixing it up. So, old patterned plates (collected over some years) teamed with cheaper glass dishes. She also adapts: she confesses to having had a deep dislike for amber glass until she saw it at a house of a friend – someone whose taste she had admired and respected for years – well, she laughs, if she likes it then it must be alright! And, so, amber glasses are now part of the growing collection of coloured glassware that Nina has put her name to.
Throughout her talk she demonstrated the extent to which she thinks about how people work. Bedside tables she says – try and have wall lights above the tables for reading because then there’s more room for the book, the water glass, the clock, the glasses, the tissues! If you want to quickly refresh your sitting room then attend to items such as cushions and lampshades. These are relatively inexpensive to change and can add a real push of colour or texture into a room.
It was real fun to hear her talk. Her recent projects have been all around the globe – China, Switzerland, the US, London and I can see why she is in such demand. Living in a room designed by Nina must be an effortless experience because she’s probably anticipated everything that you’ll need in the right place and at the right time – and of course in the right colour! She proved herself the perfect hostess and we were looked after from the moment we stepped in until the moment we left. She even let Isabel have her picture taken with her!