Our exclusive Q&A with fashion designer turned top interior designer at No.8 Project, Tamsin Leech-Griffiths...
A former designer for fashion labels including Toast, Loxley England and Paul Smith, in recent years Tamsin Leech-Griffiths has made a name for herself as an interior designer with the Swansea-based agency No.8 Project. We spoke to her about finding inspiration, mood lighting and the importance of getting her hands dirty...
How did you get started in interior design?
A 13 year stint in fashion, designing womenswear and homeware for Toast led me to interior design, a private passion that is now the focus of my professional life. With a young family and an urge to do something new, I took on a project designing a barber’s shop. I thoroughly enjoyed that process, and that led in turn to the renovation of a large Victorian B&B, then to remodelling a private home and before I knew it my passion of many years was now a business! So far my work has included consultancy work for other interior designers – including hotels in Austria, Sri Lanka and the Cotswolds, but my main focus has been in South Wales. In 2017 I was approached by the Interior Design Collective to join their organisation. They have cherry picked 22 designers from across the UK; we provide mutual support and advice on all things interior design, and I now fly the flag for South Wales in the group. No.8 Project has grown faster than I could have imagined and I love the variety my job brings and that feeling of making people happy when they see their transformed homes.
How would you describe your interior design style?
Oh that old tough question…. How to avoid the cliches?! I love incorporating modern and vintage elements into contemporary schemes. I enjoy working with natural materials that last and improve over time: timeless elegance, great design and craftsmanship never let me down. I tend to steer away from trends. In the end, my aim is to create an interior the client will instantly fall in love with.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I get to be creative every day and work with some truly brilliant clients who put a lot of trust in my vision. A home is so personal – such an important things in anyone’s life – that it is a privilege and a great responsibility to be entrusted to transform it. No day is ever the same and I love guiding my clients through the various stages and the sheer excitement of showing them the final reveal!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration comes from all over. In the words of Sir Paul Smith: ‘You can find inspiration in everything’”. I have a strong interest in art, antiques and textiles and I am constantly absorbing everything around me. In the age of Instagram and Pinterest I never need to feel like I am stuck out on a design limb. I am a very practical person and love to look at projects from different angles, finding solutions to problems real seems to bring out my creative side! Getting my hands dirty and delving into a property to truly get to know it drives me on to make a home that suits my client.
How does lighting play a part in your interiors?
Lighting is so important! You can have the most beautiful room in the world and a stark overhead light can drain all the joy out of it. Low, warm light is essential, I drive my friends mad walking into their houses and turning lighting down or off. I always insist on mood lighting, everything is on a dimmer and I prefer occasional lights to overhead. A statement light can really make a room. You can have a bit of fun with lighting...In a recent breakfast room design in a B&B I used Pooky lampshades to inject a great coral splash to the room.
Do you have a particular favourite corner or room (in your home or anywhere) that you feel is 'all your own'? Or do you have any tips for creating a 'cosy' space?
It’s sadly not mine but I created a wonderful cozy den for a client. She wanted to be surrounded by her favourite things so I created a library room with all her cookery books, it has a cocktail corner and is filled with great art, her favourite Gambose yellow velvet seating, woodburner and low level lighting… it’s a total retreat. I recommend surrounding yourself with whatever makes you happy...
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a beautiful home in Cowbridge. I’m tackling it room by room and the owner is letting me have free reign. He has an eclectic style and a big personality so I’m having real fun and being rather adventurous. It’s not my usual style but I love how it’s pushing my boundaries.
Finally, do you have a favourite Pooky light (and if so, why that one?)
The Dexter is such a great design, I have used it on a couple of projects. It has great form, a lovely silhouette and classic appeal.