Date Published: 08/3/2012
Kate Ainslie Williams is the founder of KAW Design, an interior architecture and design practice that works with owners of listed buildings. Kate also wrote some of the course content for National Design Academy's Heritage Interior Design Course. She kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with NDA about her career in Conservation and Heritage Interior Design.
Here are a few snippets. The full interview can be read on the NDA Interior Design News Blog.
NDA: What types of Clients do you work with?
KAW: It could be anything from a listed cottage to a Grade II church being converted into a home. They can be large grand houses, or small cottages. Similarly the client may be rich or they may be less well off. Many have inherited the family home which needs to adapt to their lifestyle; they may want to fit a new bathroom, install a new staircase, change the paint colour, install a new window to make it brighter, or as with many old cottages, lower the floor.
It's not just about 18th century buildings either. That was the case in the 50's and 60's, but now there is much more interest in 19th c. and 20th c. particularly now post WW11. When you list a building the whole building is listed, so for instance if you have a 60's Formica kitchen, that will be part of the listing and then if you wanted to change it you will need to apply for listed building consent from the local planning authority. Legally, there is no distinction between the exterior and the interior, whatever the grade, whatever the listing.
NDA: Would a Heritage Interior Design Degree have been useful to you when starting your career?
KAW: I'm sure it's got to be a big advantage for people who want to work in this area. What I gained from my Masters was knowledge of how the conservation of historic buildings works as a whole, how the law, policy and procedure surrounding it works. The nearest we got to studying interiors was a talk on period paints. So from that point of view students who complete the Heritage Interior Design Degree will be able to offer more to an architect's practice that specialises in conservation than someone who just learnt Interior Design on its own.
NDA: What advice do you have for someone interested in working in the field of Heritage Interior Design?
KAW: Try to get experience working in an Conservation Architectural Practice that will give you the chance to build on what you've learned and to see how it works in practice when dealing with different clients and different types of buildings. If you work for a standard Interior Design practice you might only get a listed building project once in a while. So if you want to work with historic buildings you need to work in a practice that specialises in conservation where you will get to learn lots on the job. That's what its all about, gaining the experience.
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