Interior design goes far beyond aesthetics and decoration, and no one knows that better than Karen Nairstone, founder of Studio KIND. Karen has been hard at work designing The Ironworks show home, which as well as looking beautiful, will show off just how functional and flexible the spaces are at The Ironworks. Karen tells us about what to expect when the show home opens its doors.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in interior design?

I’ve been working in design for more than 18 years, and initially I owned a homeware shop in Newcastle. I’ve always been passionate about supporting designers and makers in the North, which then led me to setting up the Northern Design Festival in 2005. The festival was a huge success and grew and grew, eventually showcasing national and international work as well as the best work from the North of England. I was then asked to do more and more interior based work and ended up launching Studio KIND in 2018.

You’ve been working with local designers and makers on the show home for The Ironworks, what have been the benefits of this?

It’s always been a really important part of my work, and alongside my work on the Northern Design Festival I’ve acted as a mentor for the Crafts Council. Working with local creatives brings a real uniqueness to projects. The quality of the work is always so high and many of the local designers I work with focus on using sustainable materials. On an eco-conscious development like The Ironworks, this is of course hugely important.

What kind of style can we expect to see at the show home and what has inspired the design?

The style will be contemporary but it’ll also reflect the architecture of the building and surrounding area, which is so beautiful. Sustainability is of course a fundamental part of the build so sustainable and natural materials will feature in every part of the home, as will lots of lovely textures. However, as I mentioned earlier, it goes far beyond aesthetics and design; The Ironworks are incredibly flexible homes with spaces that work for people in all different stages of their life. You’ll definitely be able to see this reflected in the show homes, and hopefully people will see exactly how they could live in the space.

In your opinion, what makes The Ironworks stand out from other new build / city centre properties?

The quality of design and attention to detail is something very special. So much thought has gone into the homes, from the architecture right down to the quality of the interior finishes. The amount of natural light in the homes is incredibly strong and I think you’d really struggle to find similar outdoor space in the city centre. With the local businesses nearby, I think it will feel like a really close-knit community.

Where do you start when coming up with a design?

I always start with thinking about how people live – that’s the most important thing. For private clients I’ll think about how they use the space and their life more generally; that helps me to work out how to use the space in the most useful way for them. For a show home it’s similar; looking at the type of show home and how those people will live in those spaces.

What are some key trends in interior design at the moment?

The pandemic has made us all view our houses in a different way, we’re in them so much that we’re noticing little things that we’d never have picked up on before! They’ve become everything – where we live, work, exercise. At the moment people definitely want more flexibility in terms of space, that has become a lot more apparent in the last year. Colour is also a big thing right now but in very different ways; some people want more vibrant, bolder colours as they can’t leave home as much, but on the complete other end of the scale a lot of people are really love earthy tones and natural textures as they help to support our wellbeing.