Making your House a Home in 2015: Interview with Shaun Clarkson

Posted on December 15, 2014 by Liz

May Design Series have just released their Interiors Buying Census, uncovering UK consumers’ shifting habits, tastes and priorities for 2015. The Census provides vital information on people’s priority buys for next year, as well as what factors influence these purchases and how we can expect them to change in the future.

This year’s report revealed that a quarter of us are now looking for sustainable products and a further one in 10 takes into consideration whether the materials in our homes are made from recyclable products. Surprisingly, less than half of us shop online for products, compared to more than the two thirds of customers who still prefer to shop in-store. And while there is a growing popularity in buying local, when it comes to home interior products over 80% of consumers asked agreed that being British made makes no impact to their purchasing decision.

WIN had the pleasure of talking with Shaun Clarkson, Interior Designer and star of Channel 4’s Four Rooms, about the results of the Census, the products to look out for in households next year and his own personal tips on how to make a house a home (hint: he likes rugs).

Diamond by Novaluna. Exhibiting at May Design Series.

Thank you so much for joining us today Shaun. Now can I just start by asking you what trends predict for 2015?

Well my trends for 2015 are varied. I think the biggest thing is that I am fed up of down and dirty. I’m sick to death of distressed wood and bulbs in jam jars. I want to see a bit more glamour so I’m predicting we are going to go chequer board floors, hot pink and flower arrangements of gladiola.

Which interior products can you see appearing in people’s homes next year?

The May Design Series Interiors Buying Census show that the most popular thing that people are spending their money on is flooring, followed by curtains and window dressing. I think this is very interesting because I think that if you are going to do something, especially those people on limited budgets, and living in rented accommodation, typically they want to buy something to make their rented flat feel like their own. I think things like rugs and sofas are important as they are things that you can take with you. Pluck and playthings, a treat culture to make your own environment.

Swithy Stools by Two.Six. Exhibiting at May Design Series.

And where exactly should people look to source these sort of products from do you think?

Well I think they should all come to my store in London (ha-ha!).  It’s difficult. I think you need to be very open minded. I spend my life shopping but that’s partly what I do professionally and I’m slightly obsessed, I have a shopping problem. eBay has been a massive influence on how people live in the fact that things are very accessible now. You can find out exactly how much things should cost and I think once you get an idea yourself of what you want you should go for it.

Which are your favourite places to shop? Firstly for yourself and also for the projects you are working on?

What has happened now is that we have a global shop, the internet, where you can buy anything.  Personally I don’t like buying online. I think I’m a bit old. I think people can shop anywhere, I love to go to auctions but I would never do an online auction. I would always go and physically view the stuff. I like to buy at markets and I like to buy in unusual environments, we do a lot of sourcing, we do a lot of upcycling, we take items and we invent them so I like the idea of buying old furniture that’s sustainable as well and reinventing it by spraying another colour, an old lamp, rewiring it and putting a new shade on it. Reinvention is really what we do as a business.

So could you share any of your secret sourcing spots, within the UK?

I would have to kill you if I told you; I have to protect my sources. However, London is the hub of fantastic tradeshows. The one that I would keep an eye on is the May Design Series which is coming up next year. You can see what trends are happening and the way interior design and products are moving.

Cross Lap by Galvin Brothers. Exhibiting at May Design Series.

You mentioned pluck and playthings for renters, but which are the pieces they should look at buying that will stand the test of time?  

Well that’s an interesting question. I have a shop in Shoreditch and we have a young demographic that in the main rents, they buy things like vintage lights and things they can take with them. We don’t do a great trade in hanging lights as you would need an electrician involved but anything that’s not bolted down. I think the furnished flat doesn’t really exist so much these days so it’s up to you to furnish your home and ultimately the ambition is to own your own home so I think that you should start creating your bottom draw and taking it with you wherever you go.

And what tips can you give to home owners looking to revive their interiors without necessarily replacing their furniture?

I think the easiest thing is paint, paint a wall a colour and don’t be frightened of paint – it’s easily changeable and it’s a cheap alternative. Rugs are fantastic and vintage rugs are great, it’s something that you have for life but also you can take with you everywhere you go. I have a friend who’s a curtain maker in Liverpool and she has a great range of people who change their curtains yearly. It’s not an overly expensive thing to do and changes your life a little bit.

Ikea has been amazing really as you can reinvent yourself constantly. My parents’ generation had one 3 piece suite for the whole of their life’s whereas I think we are a generation (well certainly in the hundreds of sofas I’ve owned over the years) that replaces regularly. I think there’s an opportunity for you to cheaply change your life with accents and new items which are affordable, I also think dressing your things with a mixture of vintage and new. If you like something buy it.

Klash Chair by Standrin. Exhibiting at May Design Series.

Going back to the theme of sustainability we were talking about earlier, do you think this should just be a factor you consider when purchasing or should it really be a compulsory element in the work of the designers?

Only a quarter of us unbelievably are interested in sustainability, I think sustainability should be something we aware of definitely. I think upcycling is the new hip word, as was vintage, upcycling is a form of recycling and sustainability. I love the idea that if you put something on the street now it goes and it means somebody has taken it and they’ve got a use for it. In my business we’re notoriously bad at throwing things away and I think that eBay is a great opportunity to sell anything and upcycle things.  It’s a tragedy to see things just dumped.

YPSY by Two.Six. Exhibiting at May Design Series.

The MDS report expressed that top of people’s desires for the home are self-cleaning carpets and windows that shut automatically when it rains. Do you see design becoming more technologically focused, more about function and ease of use than aesthetics?

I think it’s a combination of the both really. We all love to live in beautiful environments but I think that the May Design Series Interiors Buying Census shows that people are relying on technology a lot more which is great as it is sustainable. It means that you can control your heating and shut your windows and close your curtains and turn the lights and heating on and off from your mobile phone which is complimentary to what we do professionally.

We live in a boutique generation so I think it’s really important that when you are at home you have the same boutique experience you would if you were in a beautiful hotel and I think people are getting used to that, but obviously the complimentary technology is great. I’m a great advocate of controlling our environments. There’s nothing worse than getting home and having to turn the heating on and waiting for the house to get warm. You want to be able to do if from your mobile phone.

Linger a Little Longer table by Jay Watson design. Exhibiting at May Design Series.

Whose house do you envy the most would you say?

Whose house do I envy? I don’t really envy anybody’s house. I’m trying to buy a house at the moment and I am very envious of it (ha-ha!) – it’s my ultimate aspirational home. It’s a big Tudor mansion in Norfolk and I suppose I’m aspiring to live there ultimately.

What, in your opinion, are the three most important products for any home interior to possess?

Lighting is everything, you need to have a creative lighting scheme. I would want to own the most beautiful lamp, I’m not a great advocate of great big light fittings on the ceiling. I think you need a really comfy sofa. That’s really important, something to sit and watch television on, and something to be romantic on. I believe that everyone should invest in a rug for life and I think that if you can design your own rug and create your own rug, that’s yours and there’s nothing nicer than standing on a lovely big thick rug in bare feet.

Fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us today Shaun.

You’re welcome.

Table by British Artist Jack. Exhibiting at May Design Series.