Daniel Hopwood: The Visual Storyteller
Interior designer Daniel Hopwood says your home should reflect your life, loves and experiences. The Great Interior Design Challenge judge tells Time & Leisure about his philosophy
Although a familiar face to those in the world of luxury interiors for many years, Daniel Hopwood interior designer first came to the attention of many as a judge on the BBC’s The Great Interior Design Challenge, which saw amateur designers try out their skills and stick to a budget.
It was an experience he loved, and although he is typically used to dealing with affluent clients and luxury materials, he said that he came away inspired. “The world of interior design can feel quite precious,” says Daniel. “People are spending a lot of money. When you see what amateurs can do with £1,000 it is amazing. It has made me more pragmatic. I might upcycle or buy something from eBay.”
His passion for architecture stems from childhood. “It has been a lifelong passion and you’re lucky if you find something like that early on. I think it was sparked by having parents with creative minds and also being brought up in Yorkshire with all its stately homes. I was also constantly drawing.”
It became an obsession – but obsession is key to success in his field, he says. So too is a fascination for people. His work tells his clients’ stories, and he believes that the mark of good design is that it reflects the lives, loves and experiences of the people that live in the space.
This can be a challenge with younger clients who are only just starting out on their journey. But his collaborative approach and his ability to express the personalities of the people he works with has clearly won him fans – in Clapham, in particular, he has worked on a number of sleek bachelor pads for the area’s young wealthy professionals. “They’ve realised that the Aston Martin will not get them a girlfriend but a cool bachelor pad will,” he says.
Sometimes there isn’t a client to base a design around. This was the case with a four-storey show apartment he was asked to do the interior design for in Canary Wharf. “There was no end client as such so I invented potential people so I could tell a story.”
“Repurpose it, hack it, make it your own,” he says. “And you don’t need to spend a fortune to do it. Materials are so much more affordable today. You don’t have to have solid brass or genuine marble. Have fun and play with style.”
His role also entails being the diplomat. “I do have clients that will openly argue in front of me. But that’s the thing about design. It generates such strong opinions. There is always a compromise so long as that compromise is not beige.”
Given the many home design and renovation programmes on our screens, many of us are inspired to start major projects of our own. But think it through before you take the plunge, says Daniel. “It’s like getting a tattoo. You’ve got to know you really want it.” And always work out your budget beforehand – and stick to it. “People start ripping down walls before they have even opened a spreadsheet. And don’t expect a builder to design your project – they are there to build it.”
As an expert in interiors, one of the questions he is always asked is what the next big thing will be, but he says we shouldn’t pay too much attention to trends – look at what is current by all means but develop your own style around it. “Repurpose it, hack it, make it your own,” he says. “And you don’t need to spend a fortune to do it. Materials are so much more affordable today. You don’t have to have solid brass or genuine marble. Have fun and play with style.”
Creative collaboration on a tight budget
“When it comes to interior decoration, most fear pattern and colour. I don’t know why, especially when it can be so effective. I was thrilled when I met a client who wanted to turn his apartment into something more stylish and fun. I had found an accomplice. Other interior designers had turned this project down for not being big enough but a tight budget in our studio is just an opportunity to be even more creative.”
Gentlemen’s Quarter: Clapham’s sleek bachelor pad
GQ magazine has described it as the ‘ultimate man pad’. Daniel Hopwood talks us through the design.
“The client wanted a masculine space. We combined the rough with the smooth, the raw with the polished. The dining table has banquette seating, making it more of a recreational area for coffee and reading the newspapers. There’s also a floating bed, which seems really popular with men at the moment.”