Celebrating Habitat’s Inspiring Women

From the boardroom to the design studio and everywhere in between, Habitat is run on a generous dose of girl power. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re introducing you to one of our leading ladies: Head of Product Design, Kate Butler. She talks to us about her personal interior style, the key trends to look out for in 2018 and what inspires the work she does. Go on, have a read…

Which is the most important room in your home? 

My family practically live in our kitchen 24/7! It’s an open plan, informal space with wrap around emerald green tiles, a big walnut topped kitchen island, dining table and sofa area where the kids can do homework or watch TV while we’re making meals. I’m a big fan of cooking and throwing dinners so I love the open plan layout of the space because it means that friends and family are all together rather than being in separate rooms when we’re entertaining. We’ve also just installed my absolute dream in this space too – some big floor to ceiling Crittall windows that look through to the garden so the light in the room is absolutely fantastic.

What’s your home style?

We’ve spent the last year renovating our house and opted for simple black floorboards and white walls as the unifying base throughout. This monochrome palette allows you to really go to town with layering colour, pattern and texture on top through accessories, furniture and artwork, without it looking too busy. The black floor really helps to accentuate colour within a space and makes rooms appear taller and lighter as a result as your eye is drawn upwards. I’d say the common theme in each room at home is ‘eclecticism’ as my work for Habitat in the design studio has meant I’ve collected a huge amount of products from travelling to different countries – ceramics, textiles, objet, basketware – so I have a lot of different interior styles which I’ve mixed together. I hate storing things away out of sight so I tend to have most of these on display but the monochrome base has meant that the space can take this mix of designs and colour.

What piece of furniture is no room complete without?

Never underestimate really good shelving! I’m a minimalist’s nightmare and very into open shelving so I have stacks of different bowls on display in the kitchen, groups of vases, books, house plants, mementoes from Africa (where I’m from), all around the house. I think a lot of people visualise bric-a-brac quantities of products when they imagine open shelves but I find that they actually make you be more selective with what you surround yourself with and forces you to de-clutter and curate your interior space more. Whether it’s freestanding or fixed, shelving is incredibly important for making most use of space and height within a room, breaking up walls, zoning different areas and allowing you to show off more of your personality and actually enjoy your own possessions, rather than hiding them away.

habitat shelves

Tell us about the new season trends for Habitat

As a design studio we travel to around 16 different countries so a lot of inspiration comes from these journeys. We will never go for one ‘overarching’ trend for the season, we like there to be eclecticism in the collection so you’ll see artisan craft sitting alongside minimalist modern, muted Scandi designs next to bright Indian colour and so on. New season at Habitat covers a lot of design ideas which we’ve then curated around a seasonal colour palette. One of my favourite looks this season is the Los Angeles trend which takes 1970’s Malibu as its inspiration. Within this look there’s a cool mixing of natural rattans, hand thrown ceramics, sheepskin, tan leathers, unvarnished woods – all understated materials but very chic when combined together. Elsewhere we’ve translated ideas from the fashion industry such as designs with a lustre (oil-on-water) finish, translated traditional Indonesian rattan craftwork into a new range on interior furniture and lighting designs and continue to champion handmade products where you can see a craftsman has actually worked on a piece – so a lot of organic ceramics, hand applied glazes and intricate embroidery techniques on textiles.

scandi dining room

Where did the inspiration come from?

For SS18 a lot of inspiration was taken from travelling but our designers take inspiration from everything and anything be that exhibitions, theatre, Instagram, restaurants, street art…the list is endless!

Do you have a favourite piece?

One design story that I love for SS18 is our range of figurative designs which is inspired by art of the 50s and 60s. Our designer Martha Coates has re-interpreted the human form across a series of textiles and ceramics where she has taken facial elements, deconstructed these and then reassembled them in modern, abstract patterns. My favourite from this collection is the Eyes cushion – the eye motif is finely embroidered and the reverse of the cushion is a dusky pink which elevates it and makes it really contemporary.

figurative trend

Any other predictions for the year ahead?

There’s definitely a sense that our customers want to make bolder, more individual statements with large pieces of furniture in their homes. In the past, more affordable, functional furniture has been designed to blend into the room and serve a function but I think there is going to be more of a movement towards having functional furniture that is more obvious, that makes a statement and is a focal point to a room. We’re seeing advances in manufacturing techniques and a broader access to more interesting raw materials that weren’t possible to use for pieces destined for the high street in the past.

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