"Behind the scenes"

Designer Interieur Melanie Trinkwell



People often ask me about the process involved in bringing interior design projects to life when working with clients. In this article, I'll give you some personal insights into what goes on in my head when I am commissioned for a design project, whether for a private individual or business. A close relationship invariably develops with the project commissioners following a long and intensive creative process. Welcome to a behind-the-scenes look at how a project is born!

The brief or initial idea

How do you combine functionality, materials and aesthetics? These are the three inseparable elements of any project. I always apply the same process to identify each of these three components in detail.

I look back at meetings I’ve had with clients using the notes I took during our discussions. Reading through, I remember the emotions revealed by their faces during our conversations and their non-verbal language that sometimes says more than their words…

In fact, however superficial it may seem at first glance, an interior design project sometimes provides an opportunity to address a critical issue that my clients have never discussed with their partners or families. I am there as an intermediary or even mediator charged with transforming an issue for discussion into a focus for family harmony opening up a whole range of new possibilities.

I cherish these moments when I am involved in such personal exchanges.

Karly Santiago Réinventons Notre Intérieur

Photo credit : Karly Santiago - There's nothing left to say but let's reinvent our interiors!

In addition to a style that can provide the creative blueprint for a project, values and lifestyle play a key role. Lengthy discussions are required, as I often have to chip away at the plaster of appearances behind which we all hide, to reveal what my clients are really thinking. A relationship of trust develops.

When working on an interior design project, I also take account of what is already in place – the building's architecture. Walls often speak on our behalf, but you still need to know how to listen to them or devote the necessary time. I gather images visually translating this initial expression and unwind the thread little by little…

Creative moments

Where does the inspiration for each new project come from? Locked away in my office entirely decked out in green (a fortifying colour for me!), surrounded by magazines and other "coffee-table books" from my bookcase and tangible samples from my material library under the benevolent gaze of my high priestess Charlotte Perriand and also doped up on green tea with nuts to nibble – I have to admit – I feel well-equipped to enter the temple of the muses, ahem...

"The only limits are those we impose on ourselves"

But seriously, no lucky charms (not even bergamot-scented candles) inspire more creativity in me than the images I gather for each project and keep in view until a sort of consistent picture emerges from them. It’s then a matter of translating all that into words and cross-checking these words against my clients' values to ensure they are a good match. I choose these words carefully, as they may be used to convey a message to help emancipate the project.

If approval is granted, I match a few colours with this moodboard. I tend to experiment with contrasts, for example purple combined with ochre yellow or fir green with soft pink. It always fascinates me how colour alone can change the expression of a space.

Then, after choosing the materials, it’s time for some spatial planning, which involves mapping out the project in a drawing, and finally some 3D (or sometimes paper) sketches are produced. If I get the chance to design a few items of furniture, this will give the project an all-the-more bespoke feel.

As a matter of principle, I naturally always try to distil pleasure and curiosity into each of my proposals.

The end result and achieving it

When presenting the project to clients for approval, I remind them that I firmly believe in helping them take the expression of their initial intention as far as possible. It’s then up to me to present the best possible version of this to them and for them to accept it based on their own constraints, bearing in mind that "the only limits are those we impose on ourselves", which basically means: to hell with what the neighbours think!

Then comes the invitation to tender and with it, approval of the initial budget, after which work can begin.

During the various projects I’ve been involved in, I’ve learned a lot from craftsmen whose expertise and practicality never ceases to amaze me. This implementing phase is a particularly galvanising experience in which the sketches come to life before our eyes. Once a project is completed, I’m already on the lookout for a new one...

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