Interview with an interior designer



Steve Waghorne, Design Director at

Waghorne Workplace Design, talks about his career.

Design Director - office design

Thirty-five years in the interior design industry
and still loving his job!  

It’s been a while since the debut of the young interior designer in the 80’s working for the likes of Holloway White Allom; Skidmore Owing and Merrill LLP; David Hicks International and Colefax and Fowler.  Steve Waghorne, Design Director and charismatic mastermind behind Waghorne Workplace Design, has witnessed with interest the changes within an industry.  He reveals to Vanesha Peach from Peach Copywriting and Marketing how he combined his passion and intuition with solid business skills to set up Waghorne Interior Designers back in 2008 to provide excellent customer service to an amazing selection of clients including the likes of royalty, VIPs and a wide variety of businesses.  Although his projects have included working on high end residential, the designing of pubs and restaurants, retail shops, exhibitions, recording studios and an airport, he now specialises in office design and spatial planning.  He founded Waghorne Workplace Design in 2016.  These are highlights of this most inspiring conversation:

Vanesha: Which are the most memorable projects you have worked on?

Steve: OK, which one to choose?  I’ve worked on a number of projects varying in size, complexity and value from £30K to billions.  Key projects include The International Airport in Jeddah, Canary Wharf, The Bank of England, an office in the Gherkin Building, Chelsea Harbour Hotel, the Conservative Club in London, the Natural History Museum and the British Library.  I suppose that the most memorable was the International Airport in Jeddah.

Vanesha: Why?  What exactly did you do there?

Steve: The King Abdulaziz International Airport of Jeddah is projected to be the largest airport in the world. I was humbled and excited to be part of such a large scale project and team.

I worked from an office in London and designed parts of the Air Traffic Control Tower, the retail centre, the offices, airport entrance areas, the car park and fire station. The project was huge and had hundreds of designers, architects and engineers co-ordinating with each other both internationally and in the UK. I believe it is still being built today.

Vanesha: What significant industry changes have you noticed?

Steve: When I started working as a junior it was a real artistic craft: all the drawings were hand drawn and the 3D perspectives were works of art. The industry skill sets changed more or less overnight with the introduction of CAD technology and 3D visualisation which now has a major part in creating and executing any major interior design scheme. This can be a great help in communicating and conveying the design with a higher degree of accuracy, and in working out the construction phase, detail and costings and it is quick to amend drawings to information changes on site.

Vanesha: What would you say are the most innovative current trends?

Steve: Flexibility and wellbeing in the workplace are buzzwords in the world of office design today. Sit-stand desks, ergonomic chairs, flexible movable furniture, modern soundproofing solutions, the introduction of LED lighting and other electrical products are all the rage. Offices have become much smarter in terms of energy usage, and designers have to incorporate smart technology into their designs.

Also there are now more flexible patterns of working. Work is no longer static. More and more people work remotely. The advent of flat screen computers in the last 15 years or so has helped create more space in the office. The designer needs to think creatively how to optimise and maximise the use of that space. Space needs to be used much more economically and creatively versus the square metre rental cost.

Vanesha: How do you tackle a project – what are the different steps?

Steve: The first thing is to find out which of our bespoke services the client wants to engage.

I try to find out as much as possible about the individual or company e.g. their budget, visions for the future, culture, how they use the space currently and the proposed space (spatial planning). What are their expansion plans?  The wish list is very important i.e. what kind of wants does the client have? If I have to design a kitchen for example I will have to know what to incorporate, or a board room or reception area.

It’s important for me to know how the client uses the space. Are they thinking of using existing furniture or do they want new furniture? What’s their position in the market place and what budget do they have available? Have they thought about finance options which we also cater for?

What technology do they want to use? What colours do they like, and what materials do they prefer? What’s the branding of the company like? Who are their clients?

After obtaining this information, I then set to work putting a concept design together on CAD (Computer-Aided Design). This may involve producing 2 or 3 designs. The client usually picks or combines the ideas to a final design solution. If required and depending on the complexity of project I produce mood, furniture and material sample boards and 3D visualisations. Depending on the client and how they wish to proceed I would then produce design and build drawings.

The way we work has a major advantage over competitors who provide an all in one service. 

You are not tied to a preferred supplier or that particular office fit out company so you are free to tender out your drawing package for the most competitive price.  If you work with a fit out company offering free design you get one price from them only and have nothing to compare your overall refurbishment costings to. However if you wish we can also provide an all in one service and work closely with your preferred fit out and refurbishment company.

There are some important client benefits to the way we work!

1. We help the client to get accurate and competitive build costings.

2. We assist the client’s builder with the build management process. As 99% of the design and specification will have been confirmed by the client and designer it saves a lot of time on duplicated conversations. The final 1% of detail can then be discussed at a construction meeting and any logistics or essential changes can then be  flagged up or revised on the CAD drawings, leading to a methodical and detailed approach to the fit out.

3. The build drawing provides clear and concise information making it less likely for costly mistakes.

4. The drawing also serves as a pack for building and planning permissions, and later can be turned into a building record file for future reference.

If the client wants me to manage the project entirely, working with builders, carpenters and joiners, I would then undertake the Design Project Management for an additional charge.

Vanesha: Thank you very much, Steve, for sharing with us your insights.