meet the interior designer
Meet celebrity interior designer, naomi astley clarke…
“From an early age I’ve always been obsessed with the pursuit of feeling cosy and spent much of my childhood moving my bedroom around!” Naomi Astley Clarke is one of London’s most sought-after designers. Named as one of Andrew Martin’s Top 100 in the World with a roster of A-list clients, Naomi studied English and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. After taking the Inchbald School Design one year diploma, she worked for Sally Metcalfe at George Spencer Designs for around 5 years. This was followed by working for Stefa Hart at Hambleton Decorating before she decided it was time to set up on her own. “I set up my own studio because, whilst freelancing for Sally and Stefa, I was inundated with private clients and so, over time, I gravitated towards working for myself. There was never a grand plan in terms of setting up my own studio, it merely evolved as my workload increased and has now become an obsession!” Naomi not only loves high-end wallpaper but she also has a huge appreciation for British craftsmanship – which is music to our ears as its in our DNA. “I love using wallpaper to recreate someone’s favourite places or memories.”
Keep scrolling for Q&A with Naomi…
How would you describe your aesthetic?
What does craftsmanship mean to you?
We mix fine British craftsmanship with design flair from around the world, we use bold colours and opulent materials to create the look our clients love. The word “bling” is about as far removed from our design vocabulary as possible. This is one of the reasons why our clients, many of whom are the tastemakers for the next generation, come to us to create their homes. I love working with people from all over the world but it’s always quite satisfying to find a new British craftsman to work with because there is something quite lovely about working with local businesses.
How do you fuse luxury with functionality?
Bespoke design beautifully fuses luxury with functionality, it is all about making something to fit and function perfectly. While the range and quality of off-the-shelf furniture that one can acquire online and from high street shops is astounding, the finish and the way in which a piece will fit within a space is never quite the same as commissioning a bespoke item – be it a sofa or cabinet. Going bespoke allows you to make the most of space, which is particularly important for smaller homes, and allows one to incorporate personal touches and details. This can be as simple as designing a bookshelf so that your large books fit, or, as a number of my clients have specified, ensure that their awards will fit on their shelves. For a designer, bespoke allows the introduction of specialist finishes and materials which can totally lift a scheme – I often incorporate marble and Verre Eglomisé within my furniture designs which provides a totally unique finish and effect.
So, THERE’s STILL A REQUEST FOR BESPOKE/PERSONALISED touches?
Absolutely, everything that I create is bespoke to a client – from a shoe closet being tailored to their exact shoe size to the layout of their kitchen pantry – and in order to do this you have to get to know your clients and their families well. It goes without saying that you also have to look after their money and be
completely trustworthy – my clients know they can tell me anything and I will always work in their best interest.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Literally everywhere – homes, shops, films, magazines. I find myself constantly thinking about spaces, how they work, and what you can or can’t see. It never stops. If I could stand and peer into peoples windows without being arrested I am pretty sure I would!
Do you have a top tip for updating a room inexpensively?
Absolutely, there are lots of inexpensive tricks for updating a room! You can create a bold statement in a small room with a dark paint scheme – a simple and fairly inexpensive way to uplift what might be an otherwise overlooked, underestimated space. Lighting is also key to creating a warm atmosphere. Highlight bookshelves and wall art with picture lights – a relatively inexpensive way to create a high-end finish. Accessories can be inexpensive – you can find things in markets and vintage shops that can look like they’re from a smart store. You can also frame up postcards and children’s artworks to fill walls where the budget doesn’t allow for expensive art. There has been a big emphasis in my work recently on using reclaimed finishes and second hand furniture which has been so pleasing to see. I think increasingly people want to make sure their homes and bedrooms are as environmentally-friendly as possible.
We adore your shepherd’s bush house project. Where did you get your vision from?
This was a collaboration with Smith and Brooke Architects. I was first introduced to this client after they had been to visit a house that I had previously designed. They said that they loved how the project had turned out and that they, having recently bought a house that required refurbishment and a lot of work, asked that I consider undertaking the interior design of their home. The handmade joinery and kitchen, as well as the exquisite Drummonds bathroom fittings and hand-painted murals by Nancy Daniell, were the key ‘splurge’ items which have brought the whole thing together. It’s also formed a wonderful narrative of British craftsmanship and quality throughout the house.
How do you use wallpaper to create different moods and effects?
I love using wallpaper to recreate the panorama of someone’s favourite places or memories. For example, I have commissioned a mural in the past where a clients childhood home is nestled in the landscape. In terms of suppliers, we have a wealth of British craftspeople who are specialists in this area;
de Gournay produce the most exquisite papers which are completely customisable. I love the gilt finish to their papers which provides such an ethereal, dreamlike quality to a space. Their chinoiserie-inspired designs are such a covetable addition to a room.
Frederick Wimsett is the master of the hand-painted mural and his work never fails to astound – he’s currently working on a jungle-themed WC for a client of mine where he has applied a dark green background and has created a tropical paradise with flowers and foliage cascading from the ceiling, flying flamingos and monkeys hanging from vines.
Nancy Daniell is also so skilled in the field. She did a wonderful Savannah scene in a child’s bathroom [using Golden Paints] in my Shepherd’s Bush project and also painted a whimsical fairy scene in the nursery.
A tricky one, but do you have a stand-out/favourite project to date?
The Prince of Wales Drive and The Shepherd’s Bush House. My dream project would be to design a luxury 5* boutique hotel in London.