Scene Magazine recently caught up Michelle Ogundehin, one of the interior design world’s most inspirational and influential figures.
Originally born in Manchester, she rose to fame as editor-in-chief of ELLE Decoration UK, before becoming a best-selling author, magazine contributor and judge on the BBC’s flagship show Interior Design Masters and co-host of Grand Designs: House of the Year alongside Kevin McCloud.
As an internationally renowned commentator on interiors, wellbeing, trends and style – and a personal hero of our founder – we thought who better to feature as our very In Focus.
What or who has been the biggest inspiration in your career to date?
I find many people, from many different walks of life, inspirational for many different reasons. For example, anyone overcoming adversity to succeed in their chosen field. Anyone with a pure passion. People who are very clear about what they stand for — I admire such clarity of belief. Single-mindedness, discipline, courage, the ability to seek and maintain balance/perspective: these are the qualities I find inspirational, wherever they spring from.
What’s the single most beautiful item you’ve ever purchased for your home?
That’s incredibly hard to say as I believe home is a sort of dance between all of the items within its walls. One thing plays off another and the whole is what’s beautiful, not individual items singled out on their own.
Having said that, I have a pair of original Robin Day Forum sofas re-upholstered in a very pale Dedar dusty pink velvet and an Eero Saarinen Tulip table topped with the most extraordinary piece of Arabescato marble. These will follow me wherever I may go!
What would be your dream project to work on?
I intend to realise my #happyinside philosophy as a physical construct that people can stay in to experience the wellbeing benefits for themselves! Not quite a hotel, but rather an extension of my home along the lines of a farmstead/Roman villa layout such that I could hold workshops and teach, and guests could also stay overnight too. But not in my actual home! This is my vision for my future home/foundation. A vineyard and walled vegetable garden attached to it would be nice too!
How do you think interior design can help tackle wider social challenges ,such as climate change, youth inequality or social disadvantage?
Let us first cultivate in our children that aspect of ‘stickwithitness’ that helps them to persist in an endeavour even when it gets hard or distractions arise; along with a desire to be of service to the greater good, as opposed to the superficiality of easy social media fame and riches for having zero talent.
Then second, all businesses, small and large need to have a deep and authentic understanding of how they can contribute to offset our environmental problems. It can no longer be an ‘add-on’ for the few, it must become an essential for the many.
Bottom line, the planet may well survive, but at the rate we’re going, we’re on a fast track to extinction and it’ll be our own selfish fault.
In a highly competitive market how do you make commercial and residential spaces original and stand out through their interior design?
Just keep them authentic! Stay away from ‘trends’, focus on the needs, deliver a holistic environment that enables the wellbeing of the occupants. Today our spaces need to be active participants in our health and healing. They can be our superpower!
Explore more of Michelle’s creative world here.
“Bottom line, the planet may well survive, but at the rate we’re going, we’re on a fast track to extinction and it’ll be our own selfish fault.”
“Let us first cultivate in our children…a desire to be of service to the greater good, as opposed to the superficiality of easy social media fame and riches for having zero talent.”
“Stay away from ‘trends’, focus on the needs, deliver a holistic environment that enables the wellbeing of the occupants.”