21st September 2023 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID ShareTweetPinterestLinkedIn Chris Holwell, Owner and Designer at Domus Design and Build has given his insights into the industry. Domus, is a small company that specialises in home interior design and remodelling internal spaces. Domus Design and Build Domus Design and Build Why did you want to work in the interior design profession? While studying for a potential career in architecture after leaving school, I found myself drawn to the sculpture department at my local college. The creative freedom I discovered in the fine arts had a profound effect on me, and it wasn’t long before I found myself studying for a degree in the discipline. After graduating, I relocated to London, where I pursued my role as an artist and also took on a number of part-time jobs in theatre design. I was becoming more interested in “created environments”, my art had taken on more of an installation feel and, as we know, the theatre is all about a designed environment. In the early 2000s, I was lucky enough to meet clients who were interested in what I could create in their own domestic space, and it was at this juncture that I became what I would call a creative builder. At this early stage, it never occurred to me that I could call myself an interior designer. After completing a number of successful contracts, I took up a position as a construction project manager for a development company. While I found this role very rewarding, I felt frustrated at having to put my creativity on the back burner. However, the Covid pandemic and lockdowns gave me an opportunity to reassess my career, and I took the decision to set up Domus as a dedicated home interior design and build company. Domus Design and Build Which elements of your profession do you enjoy the most? What I enjoy above all in this profession is the challenge of coming across an unloved or misused space, and creating a scheme that exceeds my client’s expectations. Suggesting elements that were not thought possible while sticking to a set budget is truly rewarding. What has been your most memorable career highlight from the past year? I recently had a project to remodel a large Edwardian reception room, which had been divided into separate zones in the 70s, and where a significant proportion of the original ornate plaster moulded ceiling had been destroyed. Not only was the room remodelled to create a self-contained studio flat, but the ceiling was totally restored and left exposed above the different modular living spaces, ensuring it could once again be admired and enjoyed. Domus Design and Build What are your favourite types of projects to work on and why? Every project presents its own challenges, and finding the solutions to these challenges is a very positive process. I particularly enjoy working on period properties, restoring and enhancing original features, often introducing modern themes to add to the overall success of the desired look and feel of the space. Domus Design and Build Domus Design and Build What are the most challenging aspects of working in interior design? I believe that interior design is an artform, and I would therefore expect designers to exercise their discipline with passion and determination. However, aligning this determination with the client’s own aspirations and enthusiasm can sometimes be challenging. In my experience, the end result is always better when a good deal of effort has been made upstream to avoid unnecessary compromise – and that is where the expert guidance of a professional designer comes into play. Domus Design and Build What do you wish you knew before working in the field? Entering a new field of work can be very intimidating and the thought of not knowing enough can feel overwhelming. However, I believe that we all should start a profession with an uncluttered mind, and that holding onto this candour is essential, so that every project can be approached with an open mind. One never stops learning, especially in this field. If you could give one tip to aspiring designers, what would it be? Time and time again, I have come to realise that one needs to be totally comfortable with one’s own abilities. So my advice to an aspiring designer would be to be confident in your own abilities, to accept good advice, and to approach every project with an open mind, so as to let the building “do the talking”. Domus Design and Build How do you see the interior design industry evolving in the year ahead? Personal space is becoming increasingly valuable and moving house is not always a viable option, so designing spaces around these parameters has never been more important, and achieving maximum creativity within limited spaces is an absolute must. The industry also needs to continue to embrace the current challenges faced by the planet, through careful selection of materials, through recycling and restoration, and by minimising transportation when sourcing materials. I also believe that it’s important, whenever and wherever possible, to work within the local community, developing strong links with local trades, suppliers and makers. What does being an SBID Accredited Interior Designer mean to you? Being an SBID Accredited Interior Designer is important in a number of ways. It provides independent professional recognition and credibility, which clients can trust. It improves my understanding of the industry through professional development, information and advice, and enables me to keep in touch with my peers. Chris Holwell, Owner and Designer at Domus Design and Build About Domus Domus specialises in remodelling, restoring or simply redecorating internal spaces to ensure they reach their full potential. Embarking on a project to enhance any room in your home can be daunting. And while you may have an overall idea of what you want, bringing these ideas to fruition, with the multitude of practicalities that need to be put in motion, is a skilled operation. We work with you to bring your vision to life, offering ideas and CAD to complement your own proposals, with a fully project-managed service from design to completion. Visit Profile If you’d like to feature your news or stories on SBID.org, get in touch to find out more. If you’d like to become SBID Accredited, click here for more information.