Can you buy good taste? Kelly Hoppen and Nicky Haslam, the titans of British interior design, and Jane Owen, editor of the FT's House & Home section, discuss the question posed by Alexander Gilmour at the Financial Times Weekend Festival at Kenwood House.
Hoppen and Haslam — both names stand synonymous with interior design in the U.K. and the designers have built more than a style but flourishing businesses and robust brands on the premise of being able to sell good taste to clients such as Victoria and David Beckham and Mick Jagger. While Kelly Hoppen and Nicky Haslam are operating very much on the opposite sides of the aesthetic spectrum, they agreed that the definition of good taste is a complicated one.
Hoppen, the queen of structural lines and taupe, stated that she never worked with a client she didn't like, and highlighted, that in addition to her innate visualisation ability, getting to know her affluent clients and their needs is paramount and includes an extensive 60 page long brief. The old fashioned way to define good taste is certainly not sufficient for brilliant Nicky Haslam, who encouraged to think beyond decoration cliché and add one’s personal taste and objects with a history to a home.
Taste varies according to culture, style and aesthetic and, as Jane Owen pointed out, what may be beautiful to one person is tasteless for another. So how does one know what good taste is? Arguably a skilled interior designer can rely on a combination of experience, expertise and an eye for aesthetics and colours but the panel highlighted how important a shared understanding between client and designer is to achieve a beautiful result.