//Words: José Berrocoso//
“Design and life are aligned. I believe a room, a building talks to you, it tells you what will work best for it, what it wants. I like to stand in a space and observe – the right design will then come”
Kate Instone is the founder and creative director at Blush International, an interior design firm established in 2007 after over 10 years in the industry. Kate takes luxury design beyond the cookie cutter approach deployed by many larger international firms and her reputation is built on a loyal and established client base who appreciates Blush Internationals personalized approach and attention to detail. Kate and her team have completed award winning projects for a range of high net worth individuals and corporations and Blush have created some of the most elegant and sophisticated interiors for private residents, super yachts and private jets, taking great pride in delivering unrivalled quality and excellence to its valued clients.
CP Magazine: What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go.
Kate Instone: My father is an architect and interior designer who specialised in historic English country houses. I would often go to site with my father, travelling around the English countryside to visit these grand estates. I was totally transfixed…. He would take these crumbling mansions and while retaining all of their original features and historic grandeur he would transform them into beautiful country house hotels. From a very young age, I was obsessed with watching the transformation happen before my eyes. I loved that he had the ability to take something old that everyone else thought was out of fashion, still keep its history, its heritage, its story and then create something that was again adored and celebrated. I think this is why my favorite design projects are the refurbishments of existing houses!
CP: Can you remember your first design project? Describe it a bit, whether it is a gizmo you worked at as a little kid or something that was sold at a large scale.
KI: We lived in a stately home in the English countryside when I was growing up and my father had his design studio in one of the wings of the house. My first ‘mini’ project – that spanned around 10 years! – was my own bedroom. I would creep into my father’s studio when all of the architects and designers had left for the day and would spend hours in the sample library re-designing my bedroom! I was lucky that my father indulged me and would let me re-design it each year.
CP: What is your philosophy on design and life?
KI: Design is everywhere. Design and life are aligned. I believe a room, a building talks to you, it tells you what will work best for it, what it wants. I like to stand in a space and observe – the right design will then come. I don’t believe in just one style for all projects. I believe that each area/room/space deserves its own style and each area should be carefully considered and respected. This philosophy is applicable for life too…. Life is always talking to us, giving us signs and telling us what is the right direction, the right path to follow. I truly believe that sometimes, if we just stand and observe, the answers to our questions will come to us. Each area of our life should – just like a room – be considered individually. One rule or style simply can’t apply to all and every part of our life or personality. In both life and design we should always follow our instincts. And be selective!
CP: Where do you find your inspiration?
KI: Inspiration is everywhere. I prefer to get inspired by actually walking around and experiencing things. I do not like using the internet. From an early age I was taken to the most beautiful buildings in the world by my father and even now whenever I travel I hunt out the most magnificent buildings. Those trips have been imprinted in my memory and I always draw inspiration from these memories and experiences.
CP: How do you know when interior design is “good”?
KI: I believe the new generation of designers have become experts at regurgitating online images, often very successfully. When we were learning, we had a hand full of design books and we would spend hours sketching and exploring. A lot of designers have learnt to design but it is rare to find a designer who is instinctive, who naturally has a sense of proportion and space. Who has the ability to take the room off the CAD plan and actually feel the space, who can truly visualise.
CP: What are the most important things you and your team take into consideration when planning your projects?
KI: As we specialise in residential design, our first consideration is that we must get to know our client. Our aim is to create a sense of well-being for our clients, so we must know what do they want for their homes how do they want their lives to be within those walls. Once we know this, we can start working on the design.
CP: What do you think sets BLUSH apart from the other companies within the design industry?
KI: We like to call it a profession, not an industry. We provide an extremely professional service to our clients and I think this very much sets us apart from other companies. We work for our clients like an accountant or a lawyer would, we provide a professional service. There are no hidden fees or commissions. For 20 years, suppliers have called me asking what commission I would be expecting if I placed an order. My answer is always the same – NON. I am paid a design fee, why would I be taking more?
This behaviour is so common in the design ‘industry’ and this is also another aspect that really sets Blush apart.
And in addition to working entirely for our clients best interests, we also listen. We understand that we are creating our clients dream and not our own. So many designers, design for their own sense of ego rather than listening to the client.
Unless you understand your client entirely, you cannot design their perfect home.
CP: Do different materials work better in certain rooms?
KI: We adore finishes and we love to use them in unexpected ways. Pouring resin over wallpaper to create a water tight finish so it can be used as vanity tops. Use wall papering ceilings and painting floors. A beautiful finish is usually a starting point for a scheme and with a cleaver design approach you can use most finishes in most areas. We love the unexpected!
CP: In your opinion, which will be the top trends in interior design for 2021?
KI: Wellness – making home our sanctuary and honest design. We have now realized more than ever before our important is our house. We must create a sense of calm, and create a space where we feel safe and peaceful.
CP: Tell us more about your recent project in Dubai.
KI: Our Client wanted a light and bright family home, keeping the colours neutral but still homely, so we have changed every finish in the villa. In a difficult triple height space, we have created a library area with bespoke calligraphy art work with the parents names in Arabic. My Client wanted to create an area where the family could gather and read, and the calligraphy that dominates this area reflects on their choice to make the UAE their home. I am also very proud of the massage room, gym and cinema that we have built from scratch.
CP: What is your favourite project to date and why?
KI: Working on Madonna’s London home in 2007. As I was growing up she was such an icon, a successful, strong and forceful woman. I loved working with a client who had such a powerful and creative vision.
CP: What’s the strangest request you’ve gotten for a project?
KI: I have had so many interesting requests! Once a client purchased a mountain to create their own private ski resort, this project was lot of fun! We have also created a playroom on a private jet, and a bowling ally on a super yacht. We have also once built a 12m x 3m aquarium in a mansion in Belgravia, London. The entire house was built around this wall so there were many challenges! Our Client wanted to create his own coral reef ecosystem, so we had to work with coral specialists and a coral aquaculture facility to grow the reef for him. The tank needed to be 3m deep in order for the divers to maintain the tank and its inhabitants. We then need to build a salt storage room, scuba room and an additional sub-station to provide the heat lamps for the coral reef! It was certainly an interesting request and we learnt a lot about coral!
CP: The United Arab Emirates’ historic first mission to Mars is under way, after a successful lift-off in Japan. You have to come up with a design for the first house on Mars built for extra-terrestrial living. How would your project look like?
KI: We have actually years ago designed a hotel on the moon for Hilton!
CP: Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you would like to share with us?
KI: We are working with Lindsay Lohan at the moment, helping her design her penthouse in Dubai, which is lots of fun!