Rukmini Patel

I wanted to share a little bit more about our recent feature in the March issue of Your Home magazine about interior designer, Rukmini Patel and her recent living room makeover.

The magazine needed a spring living room and I knew that Rukmini’s soft colour palette in the sitting area, open plan to her kitchen, would be perfect.

We had a wonderful morning on the day of the shoot, getting to know her and hearing about her interior design practice. She lives in the countryside, in Buckinghamshire. Combining shoots with interesting people, visits to beautiful places and meeting up with our daughter in London, is the dream for us.

Walls painted in ‘Faded Terracotta’, from Farrow & Ball’s newest collection in partnership with Kelly Wearstler, elegant storage solutions and perfectly installed shutters and curtains, all added up to a soothing, restful reception space.

I interviewed Rukmini, wanting to learn more about her background and approach to design.

AG: I know you worked in finance for a long time and then had a personal awakening and a career change as an interior designer – how did you retrain?

RP: After I left Banking, I completed a number of interior design and business-related courses. I immersed myself into design and business by reading and listening to audio books. Leaving a full time job meant I had to make this venture work, it wasn’t a hobby for me and still isn’t. When you are building a business, I feel like there is a lot more drive which naturally moves you forward.

AG: What do you offer as a designer?

RP: I currently work on renovation projects and offer two different services. My full interior design service is the most hi-touch and it is very hands on, with in-person meetings, and you will receive all my design ideas, technical drawings, and full project management. Whereas the Hybrid Renovation Service is a basic interior design package with minimal project management, where you can add on packages such as CAD which includes elevations, 3D design etc. It’s a great alternative for those on a limited budget, who need flexibility, but want the benefits of an interior designer. 

AG: What are your clients’ main challenges?

RP: My clients are residential homeowners, and their main challenge is budget. Most of the budget goes into construction and building costs which is normal on a renovation project. However, my clients still want a beautiful home rather than just a white square box at the end of the build. They still want colour and character in their home, and this is where I help the client by keeping their costs within their budget and giving them beautiful finish. 

AG: Do you create moodboards? Room visuals?

RP: I create a variety of documents depending on the service. For the full interior design service you’ll receive concepts, design schemes, elevations, lighting and electrical plans, 3D designs, schedules. The most fun aspect however for me is bringing a sample board together. A sample board is a collection of tactile materials of the design such as wall tiles, paint swatches, carpet samples and hardware. They are arranged as a design scheme when presenting to a client and that’s where the real fun begins. Their project starts to feel real for the first time and seeing the joy in their face when they see the materials is priceless! 

AG: Do you find your background in banking helpful now you are working in a creative field?

RP: Some people who have worked with me have said I am very logical and how organised and structured I come across which I did not realise. Some of that has come from working in a corporate environment where those skills are key. My background in Banking has certainly been helpful for running a business, dealing with clients and running large renovation projects. 

AG: Who inspires you?

RP: Visionary creatives who break the barriers and create something distinctive, people like Kelly Wearstler who has a very distinctive style which is far from boring. Anna Wintour, whilst not interiors related, I like her work ethic and her ability to be quite head strong. I also love Sophie Robinson’s colour ethos, I’ve learnt so much from her and I love her infectious happy vibe! And finally Kate Watson Smyth my co-founder for Design for Diversity initiative.

Kate inspires me on so many levels, she finds inspiration everywhere and explains interiors in an easy-to-understand way. I really enjoy listening to both Sophie and Kate’s podcast, The Great Indoors on my daily walk. 

AG: Aah – I love listening to Kate and Sophie as well! What about future plans?

RP: I want to take my designs to the next level, I have a lot of ideas which I’ve been keeping inside and it’s time they were let out! Expect to see bolder designs, more wow and more colour! I would love to do a product collaboration and create something fun and interesting. I am looking to build a small team so I can focus on the design aspect. Ultimately my goal is for you to walk into a room and know that’s a Rukmini Patel Design.

AG: I absolutely recognise the necessity that Rukmini describes of making her business work, as a major motivator and key to success. The Design For Diversity pledge that Rukmini and Kate came up with, simply to ‘do better’ has an impressive following. Many big interior names proudly display the sticker and brands such as Heals and Rockett St George have special sections on there website delving into the history of Black Lives Matter and why this is such an important issue.

Interior design is a naturally global discipline and diverse cultures from all over the world have offered so much to contemporary interior solutions, it is definitely time we gave back. I am Lost in admiration for Rukmini and Kate’s simple, but effective initiative. Rukmini is a natural ambassador for the many cultures represented in the creative industries in Britain and I will be following her career with great interest.

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