Meet the interior designer: Rukmini Patel

Our exclusive interview with award-winning interior designer Rukmini Patel...

Rukmini Patel runs an award-winning interior design studio with a specialism in renovating character properties. Based in Northamptonshire, she has built a reputation for delivering a superb experience for clients in London and across the UK, winning the Best of Houzz Customer Service awards in 2019 and 2020. Recently she launched the Design for Diversity Pledge - we were delighted to sign up to that, and to pick Rukmini’s brains about all things interior design-related...

How did you get started in interior design?

I left my corporate career in banking after realising that I wanted to be my own boss and work in a creative field. I had always had a keen interest in art and interiors and decided to complete various interior design courses with Central Saint Martins and Interior Design Business School. I then started to take on small projects from friends and family whilst continuing my education and setting up my interior design business.

How would you describe your interior design style?

My style is often a mix of colour, minimalism, elegance and pattern. Sometimes my designs will have a blend of styles such as Scandinavian with Mid-century. Lately I’m seeing a lot of my designs take on a textured feel with a lot of clients asking for calming interiors and a connection to the outdoors. I’m a massive fan of clean lines and simplicity. I believe having a clean aesthetic helps create a sense of calm and tranquillity in the home.

Photo: Megan Taylor

Where do you get your inspiration from?

A lot of my inspiration comes from nature, fashion and natural light. I use colour psychology in all my projects. It's my starting point when I am designing. Colour psychology looks at the colours found in nature and how it can make you feel. I believe colour can totally transform a room into a completely different space with just colour alone, which is why I’m such a huge advocate for colour. Also love fashion and seeing how different colours, textures and finishes are brought together in an outfit and how that can work for interiors too. I have drawn on inspiration from many outfits and translated the colours and textures onto mood boards. After all, there is a saying, if you can wear it, you can live in it! I’m obsessed with natural light! I use the natural light in each room as a way to guide me and inspire using the colours and the right tone of colour.

Photo: Megan Taylor

Photo: Ben Sage

Which recent project are you particularly proud of?

Recently completed a property development in Kettering for a Victorian renovation property (picture above). I really love the combination of calming colours and textures coming together, it’s a style that I’m seeing more of.

What do you most enjoy about your work?

I love the actual design process, selecting, sourcing items and bringing colours and textures together. Then seeing the whole transformation come together especially with renovation projects. It feels very satisfying to see a tangible outcome and of course the client’s reaction makes it absolutely priceless.

You recently launched the Design for Diversity initiative, along with Kate Watson-Smyth. Can you tell us about that, and why you decided to start the campaign?

Following the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, and after being invited to contribute to the Great Indoors Podcast, I felt I needed to shine a light on the lack of diversity in the Design Industry. From the blog post I had written, I received dozens of messages from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities about their experiences in the design industry, as well as people in the white community who wanted to work towards change but felt paralysed and unsure of where to start. Then I got chatting to Kate Watson-Smyth, writer of the Mad About The House blog and learned she and I were both on the same page and both wanted to help. Through our conversation we came up with the Design for Diversity initiative: The Pledge, which is a three point pledge, on visibility, opportunity and accessibility. The idea is to increase diversification in the industry in these three areas and to open doors to the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority with this pledge. We’ve also created a sticker that anyone can put on their site and which clicks through to The Pledge. The sticker is symbolic, it signifies a will to do better and to show the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority community that they are open to working together and opening doors to change. We do not offer this as a solution but as a starting point which, we hope, will pave the way for many more initiatives to come. It’s a simple pledge we hope the design community will embrace to work towards a diverse design industry. Along with Pooky, we have had other brands who have taken the pledge including Heals, Rockett St George, Audenza and many others are also coming on board. For more details please check my website.

How does lighting play a part in your interiors?

Lighting plays a key role in interiors and has the ability to change the feel of the room with a flick of a switch. I’m always on the lookout for beautiful lighting and craftsmanship. It’s the small details like lighting in a room that make the finishing touches stand out.

Any tips for creating a cosy atmosphere in the home?

Use natural textures like wicker, rattan and add blankets in baskets ready to curl up with. Then a really comfy chair or sofa you can retreat to, with a floor or table lamp to create a cosy atmosphere and feel enclosed.

Photo: Megan Taylor

Photo: Megan Taylor

See more of Rukmini’s work on her website, and follow her on Instagram.