Q&A with matthew williamson

Q&A with matthew williamson


© Lynne Harkes

Matthew Williamson needs no introduction. The British interior designer had an illustrious career in fashion, before turning his hand to home decor. Having graduated from Central Saint Martins with a BA Hons 2:1 in Fashion and Textile Design in 1994, Matthew worked on projects with Dame Zandra Rhodes, Marni and Monsoon before creating his own Electric Angels collection and namesake fashion brand. Adored for his use of playful prints and palettes, he remains the King of colour and patterns to this day. ELLE Designer of the Year, the Red Carpet Designer of the Year, and Creative Director at Emilio Pucci, Matthew dressed the biggest fashion icons including Kate Moss, Helena Christensen, Jade Jagger, Sienna Miller and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name but a few. 


I chose to end my career in fashion in 2016 and pivot towards interior design. I was becoming less interested in the cyclical nature of fashion after 20 years and was drawn to the slightly slower pace of designing spaces. Both industries are so closely linked and I feel like my years in fashion were the perfect training for my current career. I now spend my time designing two or three spaces a year, both commercial and domestic spaces as well as designing homeware products. It’s a nice mix and amount of work which suits me well now.” 


In 2004, The Matthew Williamson Bruton Street store was opened and in the same year, it featured on the cover of The World of Interiors’ July issue. This was closely followed by the brand pivoting into homewares and a wallpaper and fabric collection with Osborne & Little. In true Matthew Williamson style, this received an award by Elle Decoration. Since then, he has created a bespoke range of furniture in collaboration with Duresta, was commissioned to design the interiors of Nama Bar and the La Residencia in Deià, Mallorca, as well as the Design Kitchen in Kensington’s The Design Museum, launched a homeware line with John Lewis, along with lighting, rugs, and wallpaper collaborations. He has also written a book, Living Bright. He is one busy man, and has well and truly conquered the fashion and interior design industries. 

Keep scrolling for our full interview with Matthew…

Suite 67, Belmond La Residencia
You’ve been celebrating colour and prints for over two decades, please tell us a little about this. 

For me, colour is the most powerful, exciting, and universal tool in interiors, it is the simplest way to make your home immediately joyful and optimistic. My love for colour and prints began from an early age and largely came from observing my mother using bright shades and patterns in our family home in Manchester, as well as wearing colour and prints herself. She had an innate sense of style and knew that using colour, whether on a tablecloth or a dress, would instantly lift her mood. I learnt then that without a doubt, colour has a positive impact on our lives. 


What does British craftsmanship and design mean to you?

British craftsmanship and design encapsulate a rich tapestry of heritage, innovation, and individuality. It’s about the meticulous attention to detail, the seamless fusion of tradition with contemporary flair, and the celebration of diversity. From the artisanal techniques passed down through generations to the avant-garde visions shaping the future, British craftsmanship and design represent a dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of creativity and excellence.


Matthew Williamson, Design Kitchen. Photography by Jon Day
Please tell us about Living Bright, including what inspired you to create your first interiors book. 

When an editor at Thames & Hudson first approached me about writing a book, I was a little unsure at first. Did I have a book in me? After some considerable thought and a good two years later it seems I did. I wanted to make a book which wouldn’t just look pretty on a coffee table but one which would be useful and practical too. A book centred around using uplifting colour in the home. It’s a subject I feel passionate about as I believe colour is the most accessible and impactful element of interior design and can go a long way to enhancing how we live. I wanted this book to show how I use colour in my home and design projects and that it’s not something to be sceptical about or fearful of.      

Please tell us about your new Design Kitchen? How would you describe it and what were your inspirations?

The Design Kitchen in the Sachs Family Park Room at the Design Museum in Kensington is my latest interior design project. I chose to focus on the views outside the windows overlooking Holland Park as my inspiration. A rich palette of varying tones of green was used to invigorate the space. Mid-century furniture, hand-blown glass lighting, velvet and printed upholstery were selected for a homely, informal atmosphere. I wanted the space to feel non-intimidating, uplifting yet relaxed, so visitors would feel inspired to return time and time again. I’m incredibly proud of the design and how it is working as a live, commercial space which looks and feels like a home away from home.


Living Bright, Thames & Hudson
Have you always loved wallpaper? How do you use it, when it comes to home – in certain rooms or all rooms, on singular walls or all walls, in colour drenching or clashing etc 

Wallpaper design has formed a significant part of my career in interior design. Its potential is vast and its versatility is endlessly alluring. These days, when using wallpaper, I would be inclined to either go super-sized and mural-like, or alternatively use a tiny micro pattern print. It’s perhaps the middle ground pattern scales which now feel a little dated for me. Murals, particularly landscape scenes, can work really well in bedrooms. They are large scale and dramatic,  yet restful and romantic. I love to use wallpaper with small repeating patterns in washrooms, as these tend to consume quite small spaces and add a certain curiosity and busy charm to a compact room.

Do you have any preferred wallpaper brands/styles? Plain silks, grass cloths, chinoiserie etc

I love John Derian wallpaper and have his shell wallpaper, Captain Thomas Brown, in my downstairs toilet. I’ve also used Homeport Novelty Marine by Ralph Lauren in another bathroom and intend on hand panting in some of the sailboats, houses and palm trees with watercolour paints to make the design my own. Recently, I’ve also used wallpapers from UK brands Divine Savages and William Morris Co.


Matthew Williamson, Belmond La Residencia, Deià, Mallorca
How would you describe your design style when it comes to interiors? 

I’d describe my style as ‘rustic decadence’. At first this might sound like a contradiction, yet it is the perfect phrase to encapsulate my love of mixing jewel colours, contrasting textures, patinated surface finishes and antique pieces to enliven interiors with an unexpected mix. 


Please describe the Matthew Williamson brand in three words. 

Rustic, decadent and joyful.


Photography by Iaia Cocoi
We often refer to ‘trends’ in fashion, do you think they exist in interiors? 

I don’t really pay too much attention to trends in the home. Similarly to fashion, I think it’s worth taking interior trends with a pinch of salt and wise to find your own personal style. It’s great to be inspired, but worth sticking to what you really love when it comes to your home, as you spend so much in it, and want to have things around you that you love and won’t tire of.         


Are you a fan of investing in pieces that last?

Absolutely, and that is why I often turn to the world of antiques. I’ve loved furniture and accessories which have an age to them for as long as I can remember. I’m not entirely sure where it comes from, but I’ve always been drawn to items with a patina, faded colours, interesting textures and materials rather than things which are shiny and new. I think they hold much more charm, character and often quality than newly-made pieces and help to tell a much richer story in interior schemes. 


You’ve designed ranges for the High Street before, is making your designs accessible to all important to you?

I’ve always designed products for different markets and budgets throughout my career. I like working on a wide variety of projects, each with  their own needs and end results, as it is this mix which keeps things interesting. It’s always a nice feeling if I can design something well at an affordable price that is available to more people.


Matthew Williamson, Photography by Damian Russell

My home is a collection of beautiful items that I’m drawn to. Some of my favourite brands are Dusty Deco and Anemone Interiors. Originally from Stockholm, Dusty Deco is now also in Palma, Mallorca. I love everything that the founders, Edin and Lina, make. Their bamboo bracelet coffee table, recently added to my lounge, is a testament to their impeccable craftsmanship and their ability to give classic designs a modern twist. Lia, the curator at Anemone Interiors, sources unique Italian and American furniture. Beyond furniture, her line of rugs, fabrics, and the upcoming candle collection reflect her passion for creating spaces that exude sophistication and warmth.



For me, design is subjective and there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to it. Of course, combining function and aesthetics is always at the front of my mind when designing and it’s important to get the balance just right, but I am a big believer that your space should reflect your personality and the things you love.

Matthew Williamson, Design Kitchen. Photography by Jon Day

I’m currently working on a range of rugs for the brand Ruggable, and a collection edit for bathroom retailer C.P. Hart, as well as adding more designs to my range for Pooky Lights.


For more information, visit www.matthewwilliamson.com. 

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