Fiona Duke and Karen Knox, founders of The Interior Design Collective
The Interior Design Collective (IDC) is the brainchild of Karen Knox of Making Spaces and Fiona Duke of Fiona Duke Interiors. Karen and Fiona have been running their own successful design studios since 2015/14 with their work being featured in numerous editorials and online publications.
IDC is an exclusive invite only community that champions and supports the very best in independent interior design. It celebrates talented designers who offer professional, inspirational and flexible interior design services, making it easy to connect with someone close to home.
Accessible, client-led interior design has never been in greater demand, but finding the right person for you and your home is not an easy task.
Alternative Flooring is proud to be a Trade Partner of IDC.
The Interior Design Collective
The co-founders tell us more about the IDC and break down some myths about interior design in our Q&A….
Tell us about yourselves
Fiona: Not the most obvious path into design as I graduated with a French degree … which then took me into recruitment and marketing! After working in these industries for several years but having always continued to nurture my love for art and design, I finally decided to follow my passion for design and embark on a new career in Interior Design. After studying Interior Design and Creative Techniques in Interiors part-time at a local University, in 2014 I finally took the plunge and set up my own studio.
Karen: Daughter of a woodwork teacher and homemaker, my background in the arts and creative industries began at an early age and as a child was always more interested in making things than playing out. I’m self-taught and launched Making Spaces in 2015 after seeing a gap in the market for achievable interior design with creativity at its centre.
How did your paths cross?
Literally over the lovely little squares of Instagram where we began chatting about the interior design industry, the benefits and pitfalls of being freelance and our struggle to keep up with the growing demand for design work. We quickly realised we were on the same page and wanted nothing more than to break the stereotype that interior design was only for a ‘select few’. We identified a huge gap in the market for professional, creative and accessible interior design across the whole of the UK. Our response was simple: The Interior Design Collective.
Top image shows interior design project “Mansion House” by Fiona Duke Interiors with Alternative Flooring’s rug Quirky B Liberty Fabrics Capello Shell Mist. Bottom left and bottom right images show interior design project “Red Brick Detached” by Fiona Duke Interiors with Anywhere Herringbone Cocoa. All Images by ©Anna Stathaki.
Why did you launch the IDC and aims?
We launched the IDC to champion and support the very best in independent interior design. We painstakingly scoured the country and hand selected the UK’s most creative designers, those whose own work and ethos echoed our own. Independent interior designers working in real homes, with realistic budgets, creating unique interiors nationwide. The reasons ‘why’ and ‘how’ our members got into interior design varies greatly and as a group we are slowly breaking down the myths about interior design.
Some members have studied design and others are self-taught. We all bring something a little different to the table which makes for a wonderful community! The community openly shares experiences and advice which is invaluable when you’re working independently. We celebrate and connect like-minded designers so we can support each other as community and so we can offer a platform for exceptional design services across the UK.
What do you look for in your creative network?
Every member has a unique portfolio. We look for designers that are just a little bit different. Creative, unique interior designers that have developed their own distinctive look. It’s not just about qualifications, membership or industry accolades, we are excited and inspired by innovative interior design. We are there to showcase the work of our amazing designers but we also want our designers to get involved too as we are also there to offer a positive and effective form of communication via our online platform for our online community.
IDC member Justine Hodgson-Barker, founder of Barker Design. Images show Justine’s design of a Victorian house renovationthat included Alternative’s Barefoot Ashtanga carpet used in the master bedroom. Photos by Mollie Manning
It is a nationwide community?
Yes – we have designers in England, Scotland and Wales.
Does the community support each other?
Absolutely. We literally have created a ‘hive mind’ of really supportive fellow members. Being part of the IDC allows members to share experiences and learn from one another which really benefits their work with their clients. When you suddenly face an element of doubt or indecision, having such a responsive and knowledgeable community really helps and gets you back on track. Members agree that it’s a great ‘font of knowledge and help!’. ‘We are a supportive group and together we are stronger.’ We run various CPD events for our members and many regularly meet up at various design shows or design events as well as our annual Christmas ‘do’!
Interior design project “Edwardian Detached” by Fiona Duke Interiors with Alternative Flooring’s stair runner Anywhere Herringbone Ice and Anywhere Panama Ice. All images by Fiona Duke.
How do you become a member?
As we said, we look for designers that are just a little bit different! Designers that have created their own distinctive look and unique, individual style. Self-employed interior designers, working independently. The designers have to have a professional website with clear, professional quality images, a portfolio showing at least two recent residential projects (not own home), a Houzz account, an Instagram account and a willingness to join and contribute to our support network.
What about Trade Partners?
At the IDC we work hard to support our members whilst also making good design accessible to our clients. We have teamed up with some of our favourite brands to secure exclusive levels of trade discounts. Trade Partners are brands we love and are inspired by.
Interior design project “The New London Restaurant” by Fiona Duke Interiors with Alternative Flooring’s carpet Quirky B Geo Black. All Images by ©Anna Stathaki.
Have you used Alternative Flooring?
We have used Alternative Flooring on both residential and commercial projects. With such a wonderful selection of designs and collaborations with leading designers they’re always pushing the boundaries in new flooring design which makes them exciting to work with and introduce to new clients.
Future plans for IDC?
We want to continue scouring the country for more creative, unique designers as we aim to become even more nationwide and aim to make our online community platform more and more supportive. We want to continue to support our wonderful trade partners and develop and grow these amazing relationships whilst also establishing pathways with new potential partners.
Alternative’s Quirky B Fabrics Capello Shell Mist carpet. A design that Fiona has used in one of her Mansion House projects.
How are you finding WFH?
Our studios are based from home so this is not something new to us but the current circumstances are completely new to us! Home schooling children does make the home work environment a little more ‘challenging’ but we are ‘adapting’ as best we can and taking each day as it comes.
Kate Watson-Smyth at home with Enid the cat. Alternative’s Quirky B Zebo in Black rug.
One of Alternative’s collaborators the interiors journalist and author Kate Watson-Smyth, is a great advocate of IDC and regularly shares their members work on her award-winning blog.
“Such a genius idea – a network of some of the best interior designers in the UK all able to access each another for support, advice and inspiration, as well as sharing knowledge and contacts? Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? And on the flip side, as a customer, if you find a designer whose work you love but who is based miles away, the collective can put you in touch with someone who may have a similar aesthetic but in your area. The IDC is one to watch.” Kate Watson-Smyth
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