Behind the Scene: Designer Adrienne Chinn - by Greg George

The Scene in TO

TheSceneinTO was granted exclusive access to one of the UK's hottest interior designers, Adrienne Chinn. Born in Newfoundland, this award-winning (Best Wallpaper, International Design & Architecture Awards 2011 and Best New Product for Grille Rug, Blueprint Magazine Design Awards 2011) ex-pat Canadian decided to reverse her father's boyhood migration and travelled to the UK over a decade ago.

After a career encompassing fashion journalism, magazine editing and television research, she decided to pursue a life-long interest in interior design, establishing her own design career in London, covering both commercial and residential environments for clients in Britain and Internationally. We sat down over a casual lunch on London's Southbank for a chat.

GG: So tell me Adrienne, what is hot in the current UK interior design world?

AC: Several looks are big in UK design currently and Retro is big! We're moving into the '70s influence now with lots of brass and white lacquered furniture; geometric motifs in rugs, wallpaper and fabrics - hexagonals are BIG!; Moroccan accents with poufs, brass topped coffee tables and white and black Beni Ourain tribal rugs. And colour - orange, pink, turquoise and lime green with lots of black and white. Think the Rolling Stones in Marrakech.

For Utilitarian style think loft warehouse with concrete floors, exposed brick walls, exposed pipework, huge warehouse windows, and a mix of reclaimed items like factory lights, metal lockers and industrial metal desks softened with full-length flowing curtains in parachute silks or linen, old Persian rugs, comfortable sectional sofas and chairs, and contemporary art. Colours here are more muted with lots of grey, white, brown and black.

'Steampunk' from the late 80′s early 90′s also seems back in fashion. Various modern utilitarian objects have been "modded" by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical steampunk style. Clothing-wise, this trend has women wearing high button boots and Victorian corsets with long skirts, jean jackets, small hats with veils and feathers. Men are in top hats and bowlers, waist coats, and jeans.

Round the World - An eclectic mix of treasures from exotic travels combined with up-cycled furniture, vintage sofas and chairs, a mix of pine and Victorian furniture painted in bright pastel colours, florals, rag rugs, old paintings and pictures picked up at flea markets - this is a cheerful, slightly English take on thrift style.

GG: So what's next on the UK design horizon?

AC: I think we'll see a return to chintz and florals, particularly when used with fresh Dorothy Draper colours like grass green, sky blue and peony pink, with lots of white and brass. I think wall-to-wall carpets will be coming back too. In design, what goes around comes around. Everything old is new again, but this time it will be given a looser, funkier touch of 21st century style.

GG: What defines your personal style? What's in an Adrienne Chinn room?

AC: I design in all kinds of styles, from funky eclectic, to severe utilitarian, through to elegant traditional. As a designer, I'm inspired by all kinds of design styles. I take my lead from the client's property and its architectural style as well as the client's tastes. I then put together a design which I think works in the space. So, there really isn't a definable Adrienne Chinn style. I suspect if I have one signature style, I'd get bored of it after awhile. I'm always inspired by new things - particularly by places and images I see in my travels. I like to have the freedom to bring these influences into my work and not be constrained by a "signature style." Having said all that, you're pretty sure to get some colour in an Adrienne Chinn room! And I do have a soft spot for twentieth century design, from Art Deco though to the1970s. And I love contemporary art and tribal rugs. In fact, I like anything where you can see the hand of the maker in it. My own flat is a mix of vintage twentieth century, Chinese, Moroccan, contemporary ceramics, glassware and modern art. I don't like buying retail if I can help it.

GG: What are your influences? Historically? Now?

AC: My biggest historical influence is the twentieth century. I think it was such a dynamic century for design and I find it very inspirational. Everything from Bauhaus, Eileen Grey, Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, Frank Lloyd Wright, Saarinen, Bertoia, Eames, Peter Blake, David Hicks… I could go on and on! The Beatles are my style idols - I channel Ringo Starr circa 1965 and haven't been without a pair of Chelsea boots since I was 16.

GG: What projects are you currently working on?

AC: I've had some fun jobs - most recently I've been flying out to Grenada in the West Indies advising on 21 holiday flats. I spent a week in Miami with the client shopping for kitchens and furniture and absolutely loved exploring the Art Deco quarter of South Beach.

Adrienne is regularly featured in North American and Canadian copies of Metro, most recently an article on Utilitarian Design, and featured in a Russian Design Magazine and Project feature in Mexico's Marie Claire. She occasionally lectures on the art and business of the interior designer by way of published articles on the nitty gritty of the business. She also works closely with her former college to "plough back the experience [she has] gained" and by participating in lecture events.

You can follow Adrienne on twitter @adriennechinn

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