Kelly Hoppen: Exclusive Interview & Lh Design Questionnaire

kelly hoppen interview

Kelly Hoppen is one of the most celebrated and sought after interior designers in the world. Her relentless passion for design began at just sixteen years old. And today, with four decades of experience under her belt and countless stunning projects, she is truly a design icon.

So, when Lh had the opportunity to interview Kelly and take a peek inside her mind with our design questionnaire we, of course, jumped on it! Read on to hear what Kelly Hoppen has to say about her career and her business. And for some inspirational advice on how to be a female powerhouse whether designing or running any business!

Love Happens Exclusive Interview with Kelly Hoppen

Love Happens: What first sparked your love for design?

Kelly Hoppen: As a child, my mother said I was constantly shifting furniture around our home and displaying everything at its best. I also had a passion for looking around show houses as it was a great opportunity to see design in action as well as visualizing how the designers expect their clients to live within the space. This has now evolved from being a hobby to part of my lifestyle.

Kelly Hoppen's London Home
Source: Photo by Mel Yates / Courtesy of Alexandra PR
Kelly Hoppen’s London Home
Source: Photo by Mel Yates / Courtesy of Alexandra PR

Lh: What motivated you to start your own design business at just 16?

KH: I started when I was young and it just grew from there. I don’t think it was something that I ever forced or pursued, it was just a passion and a drive that was instilled in me from the beginning.

Nothing’s too big and nothing’s big enough, so just get on and do it.

Kelly’s advice to her 16-year-old self

Lh: Knowing all you know today if you could go back in time and give your 16-year-old self advice what would it be?

KH: ‘Nothing’s too big and nothing’s big enough, so just get on and do it.’ I have the same drive now as I did then. My father died at age 48 when I was 16, and I never wanted to experience that feeling of being let down again. I wanted to have a business and be successful and that’s exactly what I did. I started working aged 16, designing a kitchen for a family friend.

Lh: Was there a specific moment when you thought to yourself my career is really taking off? If there was a specific “this is it” moment we would love to hear about it.

KH: My first book, East Meets West. That was mega for me. It really put a pole in the ground, solidifying me as a designer with a refreshing new style of global fusion. I felt quite relieved at that moment.

Lh: How did your first book, East Meets West, come about? The deal, the topic, etc.

KH: I was so inspired by my travels throughout Asia and Europe, that I wanted to put it all on a page – the concept of East meets West was not yet established, and I wanted to share all my influences regarding colour, fabric, texture and objets d’art in a board sweep.

black and gold bar stool - chandra by koket

Lh: Many interior designers aspire to have their own product collections, do you have any advice or insights you would like to share about the way you have successfully blended your interior design services and the product side of your business?

KH: I guess I design products that I would like to be able to use in my designs. Items that I feel that I have been searching for! Once I am in the creative zone and feel truly inspired I can rough sketch an entire collection in a day. Everything I do requires a lot of attention; I am obsessed with detail. I am a perfectionist and have always been very proud of the quality of my products and designs.

One Shenzhen Bay Paris bathroom designed by Kelly Hoppen featuring a Kelly Hoppen by apaiser bathtub.
One Shenzhen Bay Paris bathroom designed by Kelly Hoppen featuring a Kelly Hoppen by apaiser bathtub.

Since our launch in January 2014, we have exceeded all of our sales targets and we have achieved this by working, for the most part, with European manufacturers who can provide the quality we demand within the time frames we need. We run a slick operation at head office, where I design, and my team of experienced buyers manage the manufacture and quality control – it’s a winning combination.

Lh: What inspired you to start your online shop?

KH: Over the years I have designed many home products in collaborations and for my projects, so it seemed a natural evolution to make a full collection of my work available to purchase online. My website is very exciting for me and is something I have wanted to do for a long time. Because the nature of my style focuses on simple, tactile, luxurious designs, we worked on the website to make it as user-friendly, inviting and inspiring as possible and I am delighted with the result.

Lh: What three pieces of advice would you give to a young designer/entrepreneur looking to make it?

KH: Be open to learning. Listen to the people that are around you and be open to their advice

Nothing is too big, and nothing is big enough

You need to put in a lot of hard work, be determined and not be afraid of taking the next step to achieve more

London home master bedroom designed by Kelly Hoppen
London home designed by Kelly Hoppen
Source: Photo by Mel Yates / Courtesy of Alexandra PR

Lh: What do you believe is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since the creation of your business?

KH: I have learned a lot of valuable lessons in my career, but one of the most important would have to be that in order to succeed you need to put in a lot of hard work. Be determined and don’t be afraid of taking the next step to achieve more.

It is always important to keep an open mind, and use every resource you can – be sure to listen to any advice that is going, soak it all up like a sponge because at some stage or another it will be of use to you.

Always remember to be passionate, be fearless, be confident and be driven and you will succeed!

Lh: I love your new podcast, what led to your decision to start this? What is your favorite part of it now that you are up and rolling?

KH: I love podcasts and believe it is a great space to share thoughts, insight, and creativity. Each week with its new guest brings something new for my listeners, and I really enjoy sharing our life experiences with each other.

Palm Court restaurant at the LUX* Grand Gaube on the northern coast of Mauritius
Palm Court restaurant designed by Kelly Hoppen and architect Jean-Francois Adam at the LUX* Grand Gaube on the northern coast of Mauritius
Source: Courtesy of LUX* Grand Gaube

Lh: What’s next? Exciting projects? New books?

KH: So much is happening and so much will be announced in the upcoming months! I have very big plans shortly and exciting upcoming collaborations. It never slows down and at Kelly Hoppen, we are looking very forward to the future!

A Peek Inside the Fabulous and Inspiring Mind of Kelly Hoppen with the Lh Design Questionnaire

kelly hoppen
Kelly Hoppen
Source: Courtesy of Kelly Hoppen

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being with my grandson, Rudy.

What is your greatest extravagance?


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

In 2009 I received an MBE from the Queen of the UK for services to interior design. This was definitely the highlight so far.

What profession does your alter ego have?

A teacher, in a Montessori style school – it is what I wanted to be when I was very young. I suppose that having my own design school now means that this ambition has actually been fulfilled!

The project you will never forget

I love all of my projects. I have been so lucky in my career to work on such amazing designs, in all different types of spaces, buildings, and even transport! Working with Celebrity Cruises was a revolutionary project because it aimed to redesign the entire ethos of ocean luxury. We wanted to capture the escapism of a sea voyage and being far from your travels whilst also having a kind of urban luxury where you could be in Miami or Hong Kong.

The Iconic Suite on Celebrity Edge
The Iconic Suite on Celebrity Edge designed by Kelly Hoppen
Photo: Tim Aylen

Your favorite business tool or resource

My studio, it provides me with endless inspiration

The most timeless design

Comfort – easy and harmonious design are timeless

The biggest business faux pas

Not trusting your instincts

Your motto

Nearly is not good enough

Love happens when…

Every day when I think of my daughter, grandson, and partner

Intro & Interview by Anna Beck Bimba

Check out Kelly and other amazingly talented women in Lh’s list of
26 Top Female Interior Designers & Architects