Over the years Kit Kemp MBE has been forging an internationally-acclaimed reputation, not only for her unique hotel interiors as Founder and Creative Director of Firmdale Hotels but also as a successful textiles, fragrance and homewares designer, author and a highly-respected champion of British art, craft and sculpture.

Kit Kemp is the creative force behind Firmdale Hotels. First opening Dorset Square Hotel in 1985, Firmdale has 10 properties, with eight hotels in London including Ham Yard Hotel, The Soho Hotel, Covent Garden Hotel, Charlotte Street Hotel, Haymarket Hotel, Number Sixteen Hotel, Dorset Square Hotel and Knightsbridge Hotel, and two in New York, The Whitby Hotel and Crosby Street Hotel. Kit is celebrated for her individual and original approach to the way she transforms and arranges buildings, with a colourful and detailed storytelling in her design.

One bedroom suite at the Ham Yard Hotel. Image: Firmdale Hotels

Kit has collaborated with leading global design brands such as Wedgwood, Wilton Carpets, Andrew Martin, Anthropologie, Christopher Farr, Chelsea Textiles and Fine Cell Work, creating collections including tableware, fragrance, furniture, fabrics and wallpaper. Many of these products are available to purchase through Shop Kit Kemp, an online store complete with a range of products ready to buy for the home.

In 2012, Kit published her first book, A Living Space which follows an inspiring personal voyage through the many spaces she has designed. This was followed by a second book, Every Room Tells A Story. Her third and latest book, Design Thread, was published on 21st February 2019.

In 2019, Kit launched Kit Kemp’s Design Thread. A new website which showcases her world of colour and design including collaborations, films, and a blog which shares an insight into her work, design dos and donts and day-to-day experiences.

Kit took part in the first virtual Australian House & Garden International Seminar Series at Decor + Design 360, which you can now watch ‘on demand’. Register here to purchase a Virtual Master Pass to watch the entire seminar series or to book an individual session.

In the lead up to the event, we asked Kit about her inspirations, plus which artist she’d choose to isolate with…

How would you define the ‘Kit Kemp aesthetic’?

I have always loved textiles and also objects made by hand.  Something made by hand cannot look mass produced.   I don’t like timid interiors, but equally I don’t like frantic ones either, there should be balance.   I love character to shine through in a room, and that usually means colour, texture and form.

A room or project has to capture the imagination, and have a memory. It should make you wish to return and look again.

Very often this is achieved by playing with scale, and also playing with contrast.  It is better not to be too serious, I love to add whimsy and fun.  I like every room to have something to say and to lead you into another area or space, a change of colour or an open door into a hallway.  Interlinking areas are important, staircases or hallways should be places to dream and to linger.  They are an important part of the design thread.

Kit Kemp’s Mythical Land Wallpaper for Andrew Martin. Image: Kit Kemp

Vanessa Bell. Image: Wiki Commons

What’s one design rule you live by? 

Colour makes you happy.

Which artist or designer from history would you choose to be in isolation with?

Vanessa Bell of the Bloomsbury Group, artist, crafts person, founder of the Omega workshop, and homemaker.

Why is interior design important for the world right now?

Interior design is not rocket science but it is very often underestimated.  When you put your key in the lock and open the door to a beautifully designed space it lifts the spirits and brings joy into our lives.

You’ll be taking part live in Decor + Design’s first virtual International Seminar Series in September. Can you give us a sneak peek at what you’ll be talking about?

We’re calling the seminar “Kit Kemp’s Design Thread” and will explore hotel design, product and fabric design, art, craft and beautiful interiors.

Watch Kit’s seminar now ‘on demand’. Register here to purchase a Virtual Master Pass to watch all 16 seminars and workshops, or to book an individual session.

Plus…mark your diaries for 15th – 18th July 2021. Decor + Design and the Australian International Furniture Fair will be back at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre!