22 Jun Friday Files – Interview with Kim Pearson
Kim Pearson is one of Western Australia’s leading Interior Designers. Based in Perth, she works coast-to-coast and overseas. As a great fan of Boyac fabric, our interview with her gives extraordinary insights into her whimsical and passionate approach to all she designs, producing exceptional, practical and inspirational projects with the backing of a great team.
What inspired you to work in the Industry?
I’ve been captivated by beauty and, indeed, pondering why I or others found something beautiful, since I was little. I was very lucky growing up in a family that regarded travel as an essential and art, music, theatre and ballet as part of our everyday experience. Combining this with at least four generations on both sides of the family filled with voracious enquirers, historians, artists, painters, explorers, dancers, fashion designers and real estate developers, it would seem that becoming an interior designer was a fitting combination of everything really. Ultimately I kind of fell into Interior Design after originally venturing down several other paths here and overseas after two non-design related degrees. It was after we had renovated and decorated our 6th home in 2 different countries and 2 different states when our children were still tiny that friends and then friends-of-friends started asking me for help
That was over 20 years ago now. Between working on our own homes and opening my own practice in 2002, I worked for two design studios here in Perth.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The biggest challenges are when we are building – whether a new build, renovation or restoration, I find it simultaneously exciting and anxiety inducing. I have enormous respect for great builders. They get a bit of a rough wrap sometimes. We work with some of the finest in the business and I will never stop learning nor admiring how a gifted builder and indeed any of our master trades, craftspeople and makers, turn our ideas into reality.
What advice would you give to students starting out in the industry?
Get out and see, read, enquire, examine, explore, listen, think, ponder, imagine, play, question, experiment and experience as much as you possibly can across all forms and facets of creative, historical and contemporary life. True design isn’t about following trends or replicating a favourite Pinterest picture. It’s about imagination and discovery and your inspiration, interpretation and creation in response to an idea.
How do you keep up with trends in the industry?
I don’t follow trends – our work is about responding primarily to the client, their brief/family/needs/likes/dislikes, the building (if it’s there), the location and the environment. I’m always fascinated to see what’s happening at any time around the world and new product, materials, pieces, makers, designers and suppliers, but I don’t get too hung up on it. I love to travel and explore at any time of year but do absolutely love to be in Paris for Decó-Off in January for the launch of the new fabric collections.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t have a style per se as our projects cover so many aesthetics ranging from traditional to classic to modern to contemporary and everything in between and in combination. We work with antiques dating back to the 14C alongside mid-century pieces with contemporary lighting and artwork. We work with existing pieces in our clients’ collections adding some new and some old to refresh and re-energise. I never repeat; no client is the same, no building is exactly the same and I would quickly become very bored indeed.
Where do you find inspiration?
In obvious places and by complete surprise. And often it is a very instinctive response. Sometimes I see something that totally bewitches me like an exquisite fabric or a stunning piece of marble or the most beautiful pendant, wall, table or floor lamp you can imagine and, as if by magic, the perfect project arrives and off we go.
What is your own fabric style?
It really does depend upon the project but I love, love, love fabrics and textiles. I regard them as art. They are at the heart of all that I do. I suppose you might say I paint with fabric. I love challenging conceptions of how to combine fabrics. Perhaps best described as anti-combination. I like there to be surprise and depth in our work with fabrics. The finest colour, texture, detail. And they must feel absolutely superb or look so staggeringly beautiful that it doesn’t matter. And practicality is hugely important too although I’m not afraid of a fabric ageing gracefully – we spend a lot of time with our clients sharing our regard for longevity. I want them to last for as long as possible = how beautiful are the faded silks and velvets and jacquards and weaves we see on furniture and hanging in the windows of old and ancient buildings around the world? These fabrics are still infinitely beautiful as they age over time. The stories they could tell …
Do you keep into account sustainability in a lot of your projects?
Longevity is a key factor in all that we do in our design practice. I believe that if you love something now you hopefully will still do so even as it ages and shows signs of wear and tear over the years. And if you don’t love it any more then hopefully someone else will. Some of my favourite interiors around the world are well over 40 or 50 years and many historical interiors are literally 100’s of years old. I have some linen at home that belonged to my husband’s Great-Great Grandmother and others that I have purchased over the years that date back to the early 19C. We still use them and love them. To me that is a perfect marriage of sustainability and beauty.
I’m also interested in how fabrics are made and the processes used. We need to know that not all countries have the same standards of production – there has been a lot of discussion recently about the use of formaldehyde and other chemicals used to ‘preserve’ and ‘treat’ fibres in textile manufacture. Do you want to rest your head or put your children to bed or have them curl up on the sofa and watch telly on these fabrics? And what happens during and after the manufacture process – where do any by-products and waste from these chemicals and processes go? And the effect on the people making them?
Photographs courtesy of Kim Pearson – from her Deco-Off trip in Paris, January 2018 with some of her favourite Boyac fabrics!