An Interview with Christopher Cooke
We’re excited to welcome Christopher Cooke to the position of Associate Director of Interior Design at HollandGreen. Heading up the Interiors & Interior Architecture Studio, Christopher will be overseeing our next chapter as we continue to expand our holistic approach to architecture, home and garden design.
This week we’re sitting down with Christopher to hear more about his background, his approach to design and his vision for our Studio.
Can you tell us about your background, what you studied, and what led you to work in Interior Design?
I grew up surrounded by the beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds and felt connected to nature, stone houses and farmland. My father was a professional lithographer and I would spend time watching him draw and create etching plates of locomotive steam engines, which was his passion and profession. The attention to detail, precision and skill fascinated me and I began to look at creative fields, firstly structural engineering which taught me about the mechanics of how buildings stand up and are constructed.
My desire to be actively creative then led me to look towards architecture, and I studied in London, where I was inspired by the ideas and creativity around me, the buildings and the people. I was lucky enough to train with some incredible Studios and working between high-end apartments and houses in London and large country houses in the Home Counties, was where I found my natural place in the design world.
How do your architectural skills translate into interior design?
A large part of my career has been spent working with architects and the design journey architects go through – from planning to construction. Understanding this process has been crucial, as delivering interior design projects is naturally intertwined with the architecture of the spaces. I spent many years researching the works of the German artist Erwin Heerich. He explored the concept of constructing an idea into materiality: how space can be presented and formed. His work opened up multiple perspectives and insights for me into spatial structures and their physical qualities. This inspired me to start my projects by imagining a boundless in-definable space, which then informs my decisions and connects the interior design to the building itself.
What influences your design approach?
I often start with the building, its form, its story, its historic identity. Many country houses have limitations of what you can and can’t touch. In this sense I like to explore the historic fabric and restore parts of its original story whilst concurrently building a new story through a new interior. The layout and flow of the space must be considered; most houses don’t naturally flow, so I look to create a balance of the spaces. It’s a procession, a process of walking through a house in a logical sense.
How do your life experiences live in your work?
I spend time visiting galleries in different cities around the world. The way these spaces display art, texture and colour is fascinating to me, to see how curated collections create a palette and mood for the viewer. Travel has always given me new explorations to consider and a wealth of design ideas.
What should a client look for in an interior designer?
I sometimes think an interior designer is like a psychologist, they need to be able to listen to a client and draw information without asking too many questions. It’s a skill that takes practice to understand and connect with your client, and from there to be able to conceptualise and fulfil their vision.
How do you create trust between your clients and you as a designer?
By honesty. If clients are over-promised things, it can start to go wrong and delays can lead to more expense and stress. My first meeting with a client always outlines my approach. It’s a very personal experience, founded on honesty and an open dialogue in which to share ideas and collaborate.
How do you set about designing a space or a home?
I am constantly looking for new opportunities to evolve my design experience. It’s a project by project process. I am not radical, I am focused on every detail in the journey; each home teaches me something new which I take with me to the next commission.
What are the fundamental qualities of a beautifully designed home?
Space must be functional, finishes don’t need to be perfect, attention to detail is paramount.
How would you describe the HollandGreen Interior Design Vision & Ethos?
We are building a Design Studio which delivers beautifully coherent interiors, in harmony with the building and the gardens – it’s about creating a legacy of timeless elegance and quality craftmanship. As a collective of architects, interior designers and landscape designers, we work together holistically to create homes that flow and delight, which elevate the living and the relationships between the people that live there. That’s our goal.
How do you approach sustainability & ethical resourcing in your designs?
Designing sustainably and using sustainable and ethical materials is one of our key principles. We do this through working and sourcing with artisans and crafts people local to the project site. I’m honest enough to say this is not always easy, but our goal is to deliver sustainable solutions through the design, the build, the furniture and finishes and through the curated landscape. It creates a special design aesthetic that connects the home to nature and the local vernacular and it fosters a sense of wellbeing and calm.
Can you tell us about a project you wish you could have moved into?
Creating beautiful homes and spaces for my clients is an honour, but each is uniquely designed and personalized to them. So whilst I’ve been lucky to work on some incredible projects, I love coming back to my own home, where I rewind and recharge. My home gives me the headspace and breathing space to focus my energy on the design palettes I’m working on.