After a 15-year career in marketing and management positions Kirsten Ford took the leap into interior design in the Auckland market. Now, close to three years later, she “hasn’t regretted a second”. Every day is “busy, challenging and always interesting and rewarding”.
What made you decide to move into interior design, and how does your previous career experience help guide your work today?
After being in the corporate world for so long I was really keen to move into a more creative industry. Having worked on two houses of my own and helped friends and family with their homes, I was passionate about the work involved. So I took the plunge, gaining my interior design diploma in 2015 and starting my own business.
My career experience and skills are key to my new role too. Be it a new build or a renovation project there are always hundreds of moving parts to keep track of, so my project management skills are a huge asset. I love that part of the job – coordinating with architects, builders and clients to ensure the best result.
And in any project it’s the clients who are the focus. Having worked in service-orientated industries in the past, I’m always aware that it’s their homes, their families, their way of life that I’m working to enhance.
How would you describe your approach to interior design?
I’m most passionate about designing specifically for each client.
So I spend a lot of time finding out about a client in the initial research and scoping stages. I want to know how they use their home, what they do in the weekends, where they shop, what they eat, where they like to holiday, right down to what shoes they wear.
I work to create something that will perfectly suit them. It can’t be design that’s solely trend-focused. It’s about their lives, their lifestyle and, most importantly, it’s about how they’ll live in the years ahead.
I try to create ‘timeless’ interiors with a stylish edge, rooms that will still be true to the client years from now.
You’re inspired by European design. What key elements have attracted you to this style?
European design is often tied to a sense of the ‘classic’, but it still has a definite flair. The mix of beautiful historical features (like parquet flooring, mouldings and paneling) with clean, sleek modern lines creates a look that is sophisticated, layered and unique. Ultimately this provides spaces with a real story behind them.
That’s not to say everything that works in Europe works in New Zealand. The European textile houses create some truly incredible fabrics yet a lot of these simply aren’t suited to every application here – the big difference being the UV in our light which can dramatically affect wear and performance. I still love to use these fabrics – just judiciously, and with care.
What have you been working on recently?
I’ve been lucky to be working on a wide variety of projects this year. A highlight has been creating the interiors for an amazing new build by Studio John Irving. Here the architect has developed something very graphic and contemporary with many bespoke elements. The clients have been passionate, adventurous and open-minded – perfect qualities to create an incredibly unique space.
Every project is different however. Some clients will have a very specific brief and a good idea of what they want. Others may need more help in creating a clear vision. That’s what makes my role interesting and exciting.
Working closely with the client to plan spaces, specify finishes, scope colour palettes and then select furnishings is a very fulfilling journey. To create these spaces that people love is an honour and a privilege.
Do you have a favourite Kovacs piece?
I absolutely love the Spyder chair and am looking forward to using it in projects in the future. The Spyder is the perfect occasional chair. It’s adaptable, unique and very stylish.
I also love the Elements, Henley and Loft sofas. It all depends on what’s right for the space, and what’s right for the client. And once the client has actually sat on a Kovacs piece to comfort test it, they rarely want to sit in anything else.