Creatif Conversations: 02. Kathryn O'Callaghan-Mills

As a Design Director at Area, the award-winning workplace design and fit out specialists, Kathryn O’Callaghan-Mills has extensive knowledge of what works in interior design, the workplace, and why people-focused furniture should be at the heart of every project.

Having recently attended one of Creatif’s technical breakfast seminars, Kathryn was invited to share her thoughts on the design trends from 2018 and provide an insight as to what’s in store for 2019.

Creatif: Where do you get your inspiration from?

KO’C-M: Many moons ago I studied at Central St. Martins and learnt to take inspiration from anything and everything, so my inspiration comes from all facets of life.  I have always been fascinated by cubism and the approach of representing reality in a different way. In some form this has filtered into my career; I always like to challenge the perception of an environment and this tends to shine through. 

[Also], we’re so fortunate in today’s age to have inspiration at our fingertips. Social media plays a huge part and you’d be surprised at how many ideas evolve from Instagram. I tend to follow people who aren’t associated with interiors, such as fashion designers, illustrators and artists because they all influence your individual perception of what ‘great’ design really is.  

Kathryn O’Callaghan-Mills

Creatif: Are there any design fundamentals that you believe should be part of every project?

KO’C-M: Space needs to be designed to work for that specific client - this is the fundamental principle that we always follow. Trends come and go yet clients are our future, and our objective is [always] to create a space that enables them to flourish.

Creatif: How do you find out about what’s trending?

KO’C-M: It’s critical within my role to stay connected to trends within the design world. I tend to utilise various avenues - whatever is to hand at the time!

Kathryn O’Callaghan-Mills

The most important element of staying connected is to share the information with the Studio. At Area, we host Round Table events where we discuss current trends and topics. We have also set up a new materials workshop which gives the team a forum to share recent specifications, or maybe just something they love.

It’s hugely important that we constantly nourish and develop our creative sides.

Creatif: Do you take into account current trends in your work?

KO’C-M: I think subconsciously, trends will seep into any current design.

Creatif: Following on from that, what’s been your favourite trend to work within your recent projects?

KO’C-M: I am a big advocate of well-being in the workplace and how this can be implemented into the design.  It’s refreshing to see clients recognising the value of a healthy workforce, and embracing new innovative solutions.

Creatif: What do you think is coming next in design?

KO’C-M: I think the lines will continue to blur within the co-working and co-living sector. Co-working is not something driven by real estate and developers. Instead, it naturally reflects how our society is changing: it embodies the concept of allowing communities to thrive; to create a sense of belonging where it doesn’t matter where you ‘live’ or where you ‘work’. It is that idea of a community, with shared purposes and ideals, that counts. 

Creatif: And finally, what’s your favourite project that you’ve worked on recently?

KO’C-M: A project which stands out for me is one recently completed within the development of Battersea Power Station. To work within such a landmark location was an incredible experience and the client was fantastic, giving us clear direction and full creative licence, which resulted in a project we are extremely proud to showcase.