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Article by The Gloss, featuring Helen Kilmartin of Minima

1. HELEN KILMARTIN: Interior designer, Minima

Owner of Minima, the luxury furniture importer and design consultancy, Helen Kilmartin has been responsible for private residential and commercial design and interior projects here and all over the world for more than 20 years. Based between Minima on Dublin’s Hanover Quay and London’s Ebury Street, Kilmartin spends her time sourcing, selecting, supplying and styling for her clients.  Her own home is the perfect showcase for her work – it’s a mix of luxe design from B&B Italia, Promemoria, Cassina and other cool and classic design brands.

What is the meaning of good taste to Helen Kilmartin? “Restraint in the quantity of pieces in a room. Consideration of how they work with each other as a collective whole. Anyone can buy nice individual items but putting them together in a holistic way is trickier.”

What is bad taste? “Copying and fakes. If you like something and it is out of your price range, either buy second hand, save up for it and reward yourself or buy something different. The irony is that many who buy fake design classics think that it shows they are design aware and have good taste. I don’t think so, there is plenty of good new design out there at affordable prices.”

What do you love in interiors now? “When I was in Milan recently, I loved the combination of salmon pink with copper or brass that was coming through from a number of designers. It’s timeless.”

If you could buy one tasteful piece now what would it be? “The ABC chair by Flexform – in tan leather.”

What’s giving you a buzz now? “Seeing the builders back on site – it’s encouraging to see activity again.”

2. SACHA WALCKHOFF, Creative director, Christian Lacroix

Product designer and interior designer Sacha Walckhoff is Creative Director of Christian Lacroix Maison a post he has held since Lacroix himself left the brand in 2009. In a new collaboration, Roche Bobois invited Maison Lacroix to design 20 furniture pieces, including lighting and rugs. Walckhoff describes good design as “timeless, desirable, obvious and singular”, clearly ascribing a sense of originality as key for him. At home, his love of one-of-a-kind decorating is manifest in the mix of styles and periods and his taste for the exotic. He doesn’t shy away from kitsch, and there is a touch of levity to his apartment in Paris with its collections of objects gathered from markets and mixed with serious design pieces. This sensibility is felt in the new collection for Roche Bobois, which is luxe and sophisticated and playful.

What is the meaning of good taste to Sacha Walckhoff? “This is a tricky question as ‘the good taste’ of one might be the bad taste of another! That being said, to me, good taste goes with singularity, easiness and ideas … money might help but should not be seen or felt.”

What is bad taste? “Obvious money.”

What do you love in interiors now? “To feel that there is a connection with history without any nostalgia, I love to feel that it is connected with the history of humanity.”

If one thing signifies good taste now, what is it? “Sensibility.”

What item or piece do you love to live with now? “I just did get a piece from sculptor David Altmejd – it is wonderful to wake up in the morning and to be able to look at it while sipping my lemon juice!”

3. JOHN REDMOND, Creative Director, Brown Thomas

John Redmond has adroitly created the world of Brown Thomas for decades, overseeing everything from displays to merchandising, campaigns to magazines, for the brand. His concepts for window displays – particularly at Christmas – draw huge crowds to the exterior of the store, enticing them inside where his unique eye for fun, detail, luxury and newness makes a valuable connection with consumers. In his role, deadlines rule and everything must be meticulously planned and timed, perhaps the reason why over the years his pursuit of painting has been so important to him. Art has always been an inspiration for Redmond’s work and he has spearheaded a number of extraordinary collaborations with artists for the store windows. At home, he brings his eye for colour, shape and form to bear, injecting colour with his paintings. He’d like to change the interior more frequently, a habit fuelled by the need for constant change in his work, but settles for switching the art and replacing cushions and accessories.

What is the meaning of good taste to John Redmond? “Almost every interior style done well can be tasteful; for instance,  while I generally dislike clutter, when I see it done the right way, I can love it. Overall, quality matters, and being able to use contrast successfully, because this makes for an interesting interior. And I think it’s important to understand the person who lives in the space to appreciate it.”

What is bad taste? “Too many shiny surfaces and fabrics.”

What do you love in interiors now? “To me, the ultimate luxury now would be a clean, modern shape and beautiful traditional Irish tweed.”

What item or piece would you love to have now? “A sofa upholstered in Irish tweed – either a vintage piece in a bright yellow or teal or a very contemporary couch in a nude or grey tweed.”

What is your view of art in interior design? “It’s obviously not a good thing to select art on the basis that it matches your sofa, or looks right with the curtains, but judging how well a piece works in a room will involve whether the setting enhances the work. I think the décor should support the art, not the other way round.”

Should art influence how you decorate? “By relegating wall art to a decorating accessory, you may be overlooking its ability to play a more prominent role. The influence of an artwork in a room can suggest shapes you might pick up on, or create a balance of colour. I think repeating colour from a piece of art can underline its impact.”

Any tips on hanging art? “Placing furniture underneath a painting can draw the eye towards it, emphasising it. Also, hanging multiple works by the same artist can have great impact. Grouping artworks and photographs is a very individual thing – I am always curious to see how people display things differently. It doesn’t need to be serious – I like when you have a little fun with it.”

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