From working with Kelly Hoppen to designing for Sir Richard Branson and building a global portfolio, Fiona Barratt-Campbell reveals her approach to contemporary interiors
“I was born with a passion for property in my blood,” says London-based interior designer Fiona Barratt-Campbell. Growing up in Northumberland, Fiona’s earliest memories are of her parents’ refurbishment ventures. “We moved three times during my childhood and every time it was a project. We moved to a larger house that required more extensive renovations, and that’s what I grew up to know.”
At a young age, Fiona set her heart on a career in interior design. She trained at the Chelsea College of Art in London and Parsons School of Design in New York City, before working for designer-to-the-stars Kelly Hoppen for three years. In 2006, she set up her own eponymous studio in Chelsea, growing into a 7,000-square-foot showroom in London’s Victoria.
As first clients go, Fiona lucked out with a premiere project: a ski chalet in Verbier for Sir Richard Branson. “I was lucky,” the Briton reflects. “I was in skiing with a friend who introduced me to a couple who were working for Branson. They introduced me to the board at Virgin and the rest is history.”
The project put Fiona Barratt Interiors on the map and as the designer honed and evolved her signature style, she gained clients across the globe. “In the beginning, I only used new products and a very muted palette of colours. Now, my style is much more evolved and very eclectic,” she says.“Texture is key in every space I design. Characterful details and warmth are provided by texture and finishes layered within each space. Carefully curated art and antiques add contrasting accents and pops of colour. This to me, is the essence of a modern luxury aesthetic.”
Carefully curated art and antiques add contrasting accents and pops of colour. This to me, is the essence of a modern luxury aesthetic.Fiona Barratt-Campbell
The studio is renowned for transforming historic residences into modern spaces with timeless appeal. One way the team achieves this is by balancing contemporary pieces with antiques. “I use antiques from Regency period right through to mid-century modern to create a blended look,” Fiona says. “There is definitely an art to combining contemporary products with antiques. It’s also important to create something that’s timeless because for a client who is spending a large amount of money, it can’t become outdated in two or even five years. The trick is designing with integrity.”
Fiona operates an autonomous approach whereby the studio completes all of the architectural planning, layouts and finishings in-house, as well as the soft furnishings. “I think having that level of autonomy follows through and delivers a unique project,” she says.
High-end residences make up the majority of their projects globally. In the UK, landmarks comprise the modern transformation of the 250-year-old Georgian Hall in Yorkshire, the renovation of her own home in Chelsea, and the transformation of a traditional cottage in the Lake District into a modern home focused on indoor-outdoor living. Further afield, highlights include a contemporary, light-filled beach villa in Mallorca – one of four homes for one client – and, in Rome’s prestigious Monticello development, the refined Villa Pazzi, which is a mastery of understated luxury and artistry of detail.
In the commercial arena, Fiona recently completed a penthouse for K11 ARTUS, a five-star hotel with luxury residences in Hong Kong. “It was interesting as K11 is an art foundation and I was working alongside over 100 artisans,” she says. “The hotel brings together a unique collection of art, and artisans are employed for every aspect of the hotel, even down to the ways the room numbers are displayed – under lit-up ceramic pots.”
Despite employing a team, Fiona continues to take ownership of all of the firm’s design work, which she admits can become intense – though she asserts that “I love what I do and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” As such, the pandemic served as an opportunity for a reset. “Beforehand, I had 33 people and yet I was still designing 100% of the projects. Covid had a real silver lining for me as it enabled me to take a step back and think about where we were going as a business and what our objectives were,” she says.
In 2013, Fiona founded FBC London, a luxury furniture and accessories store with outposts in London and New York. “I was designing bespoke pieces for clients and their friends wanted to buy them, so that’s how it started. Over the last years, the furniture market has developed in terms of techniques and materiality – it’s a lot more advanced. With our own brand, I can create what I love,” she says.
Inspired by her parents, she’s also diving into property development. “We’ve started our own development arm of the Interiors business where we buy properties, design them under the Fiona Barratt Interiors (FBI) umbrella and furnish them with FBC product,” she says. The first project, a five-bed property in Cadogan Street in Chelsea, went up for sale in mid-April. The team has also closed a deal on a three-storey penthouse maisonette on the prestigious Cadogan Square which hasn’t been developed for 50 years. “The focus is to create unique one-off residences across London. We may also look in the country in areas within easy proximity to London,” she adds.
In each project, Fiona – who grew up among the World Heritage sights of Northumberland – draws inspiration from history and nature. “When I’m designing furniture, I’m inspired by the northern routes and by Roman history and architecture. With interiors, I’m inspired by nature, the colours, the textures and how it’s is always evolving – nothing stays the same for long,” the designer says. She’s also a great devourer of magazines and catalogues. “I have binders of inspirational pull-outs I’ve collected over 15 years and every time we start a new project, I spend several hours going through them,” she says. “Everything can be an inspiration. If you look at our projects, not a single one is the same. There’s no fun or talent in copy-pasting. Every client is unique, so every project is unique.”
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