We have some clever people working at CCWS, but our senior designer is the glue that holds us all together. World, meet Amy!
To get good results, you need good people. And boy oh boy, do we have great people! With over 10 years’ creative experience, talented designer Amy Elliott works on every stage of your interior fit out project from designing the concept, style and layout to selecting the materials and placing those oh-so important finishing touches. She even chooses where the plug sockets go!
Hi Amy! Let’s kick off with an easy one. How did you and ‘design’ first meet?
At school, I was always that kid in the art cupboard skiving off French – I wasn’t really interested in anything else. But the real light bulb moment happened back in the ‘90s. I used to love going out to London’s superclubs – Camden Palace, Cafe de Paris, Ministry of Sound, anywhere I could dance until 7 o’clock in the morning! But what I was excited about, was the interiors of these places. Even though they were essentially just black boxes, the lighting displays and the way the stages were set up got me really interested in interior design.
Tell us about the journey from there to here.
First I went to university to do an arts degree. It involved lots of sculpture and printing – conceptual stuff, never fine art, which really appealed to me. My final year project was putting on a nightclub in a tube station! From there, I had a brief stint in estate agency (soul destroying) before landing a design job at a high-end American furniture company. A quick hop through swanky bathroom design – Patrick Stewart’s mansion was a highlight – and I arrived at Rubicon, designing office interiors in London and the south east. Then more commercial interior design at London-based CCWS!
Can you tell use what a senior interior fit out designer actually does?
It’s really varied. The last couple of weeks, I’ve been office based developing licence to alter packages and technical design packs that our numbers guys can cost from. But usually, I’m out and about meeting clients, going through their briefs, surveying, measuring, ordering furniture, showing subcontractors round the site, pitching design concepts to new clients, actually creating design concepts, detailing – that means figuring out where the lighting, floor boxes and finishes go – sending tech packs out to craftspeople to get quotes so there’s a bit of procurement in there as well. It’s a real mixed bag in commerial interior design!
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Coming up with the concepts and going through them with the client. Just talking about the function and aesthetics and bouncing office fit out ideas around is great. The other part I like is being on site and seeing what’s being built. I love to be out, doing things, seeing people, and having different things go on around me. I’m not very good at sitting still!
Why does design matter to you?
It matters because I like the reasons behind why things happen. Design is a conduit for that. So, if there’s a beautiful view, let’s put floor-to-ceiling windows in so we can really capture it. Whatever environment you’re in, whether it’s home or work, it’s important that you feel good being in that environment. Design has a lot to do with that. If you were sitting in a black box all day, you wouldn’t feel as happy as you would in a glass box overlooking the sea. Design translates the idea of happiness into something useful.
Have you ever been worried about any of your office interiors in London?
With every project, there’s always a worry. Have I interpreted the brief correctly, have I understood where this client is coming from? A lot of what I do is intuitive, it’s about ‘getting’ people and having empathy to their needs. It’s about connecting with them; logistically, emotionally, holistically. I like to think that I’m good at making those connections but there’s always the worry that I’ve completely missed the point the client is trying to make.
And how often do you miss the mark?
It hasn’t happened yet! Plus, every time you meet the client the worry gets a little bit less, because you dial in to people. You get to a point where a client just looks at you and you instinctively know not to run with those office fit out ideas, or to choose concept A over concept B, because you’re tuned into each other.
You make it sound easy….
Ha! The main struggle I have is educating people about what they can get for their budget. Some people want the champagne interior fit out for tap water prices. And that’s OK, but at some point you’ve got to come back to reality. You can only physically do what you can physically do. I’ll try to recreate the office fit out ideas someone has in their head, but sometimes it’s pretty challenging.
In terms of commercial interior design, London is known for being on-trend and future-forward. What’s the most interesting or unique element you’ve incorporated into an interior fit out?
Every design I do has a favourite bit …. I get pretty obsessed with every project! If I had to nail it down, I’d say that my favourite element isn’t product or design feature, it’s a reaction. Like with our client Movember, they wanted some amazing lighting but there was no way the budget was going to stretch to the product they’d seen. They were really cool about managing their expectations but I could see they were disappointed. So, I scoured all my secret sources and found these unbelievable pendant lights at a cost-effective price. We managed to put these gorgeous lights in all the places they wanted them. Just their face when they saw that we’d pulled off the impossible – priceless!
Tell us about these secret sources….
They’re top secret.
Moving swiftly on. What do you like to do when you’re not designing?
I hang out with my little girl. I used to like clubbing but I’m older now and it’s not the done thing for a mother, is it? I’m really into music, though. It’s been such a constant throughout my life. It’s like I have this internal radio in my head. There’s always a song buzzing through my mind that I can match my day too. Like some people hear in colour? I think in music. Is that weird? You probably think I’m weird.
It’s not weird, it’s creative. Is weird how your friends describe you?
No. They’d describe me as loyal, way too honest, and fun to be around. Hopefully!
Your gravestone will read?
I told you I was ill…………
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