KELLY HOP­PEN.

The Bri­tish fash­ion cre­ator on why LGBTQ trav­ellers should choose a cruise as their next hol­i­day.

Gay Times Magazine - - CUL­TURE - Im­ages cour­tesy of Celebrity Cruises Words Daniel Me­garry

With over 40 years in the busi­ness, an MBE for her ser­vices to the in­te­rior de­sign in­dus­try, and a host of celebrity clients in­clud­ing the Beck­hams and Sir El­ton John, Kelly Hop­pen is one of the most sought af­ter de­sign­ers in the world.

When the prospect of de­sign­ing for Celebrity Cruises came up, Kelly says she was ini­tially “a bit ap­pre­hen­sive” of trad­ing homes and ho­tel rooms for a cruise ship, but It’s an op­por­tu­nity she tack­led head on as she ap­plied her cel­e­brated time­less-yet­stylish de­sign phi­los­o­phy to the fu­ture of lux­ury sea travel.

As the brand’s new Celebrity Edge ship launches this year, we spoke to Kelly about her de­sign in­spi­ra­tions, the new gen­er­a­tion of cruise ships at­tract­ing younger trav­ellers, and her best tips for spic­ing up your own home.

What made you want to de­sign for a cruise ship?

When they asked me, orig­i­nally I was a bit ap­pre­hen­sive be­cause I wasn’t sure quite how my style and what I do could be trans­lated onto a cruise ship, be­cause I’d never seen it done be­fore. But work­ing for Celebrity Cruises, they were just com­pletely open to tak­ing any­thing on board in or­der to do some­thing that was a real game changer in the in­dus­try.

Where did you get your in­spi­ra­tion from?

What­ever I do and wher­ever I go I’m con­stantly get­ting in­spired, but in this case I took the brief and I tried to un­der­stand what it would be like to be in one place on wa­ter go­ing around the world. I do a lot of ho­tels abroad like in Mau­ri­tius and things, so it’s no dif­fer­ent, it was just cre­at­ing an­other de­sign that was unique to Celebrity Cruises, re­ally.

What is it about Celebrity Cruises in par­tic­u­lar that draws you in?

Well I think they’re just very for­ward-think­ing, they’re like no one else in the in­dus­try, and since we’ve been work­ing with them we’ve been ap­proached by so many of the other cruise lin­ers be­cause they’ve seen that what we’ve done is so dif­fer­ent. But I like the way they think and I like the way they lis­ten to new ideas and how they’ve given us such an amaz­ing free reign to de­sign some­thing that is very chal­leng­ing and very dif­fer­ent. There’s also what we’ve got for the fu­ture that hasn’t even been an­nounced yet – we’re al­ways go­ing to be push­ing the bound­aries.

How do you make sure that the spa­ces you’re de­sign­ing are places trav­ellers will be able to en­joy and re­lax in?

I can guar­an­tee they’re go­ing to en­joy them! It’s what I do and what I’ve done for all th­ese years, I’m very good at cre­at­ing spa­ces for peo­ple to live in, whether that’s a ho­tel room or a room on a cruise ship. I think be­cause I de­signed res­i­den­tial mainly for the first 25 years of my busi­ness, I’ve had a real in­sight as to how peo­ple like to live, and then sort of re­ally spin­ning that on its tail and think­ing about how peo­ple want dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences when they’re trav­el­ling. It’s about mod­ern, time­less lux­ury. My spa­ces are very neu­tral so peo­ple can adapt in them with splashes of colour, but it’s all very sen­sory, it’s very tac­tile, there’s lay­ers of tex­tures. It’s ev­ery­thing that I’m known for.

With all the ex­pe­ri­ence that you’ve had in the in­dus­try, what’s the most im­por­tant thing you’ve learned about in­te­rior de­sign?

The most im­por­tant thing is that peo­ple feel com­fort­able and en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence when they’re in that space. I think that, in a way, an in­te­rior has to be a back­drop for who­ever’s in it. If it re­ally shouts out loud and it be­comes the most im­por­tant thing then I think you’ve failed.

Some peo­ple may view a cruise hol­i­day as some­thing for an older gen­er­a­tion, but how do you en­sure that th­ese things ap­peal to a younger gen­er­a­tion?

Well when we did the launch last March, and they flew over 400 jour­nal­ists from around the world to see the vir­tual re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ence, no one could

be­lieve it, and I think that Edge is go­ing to pave the way to a younger gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple who will think it’s as cool as it was to go on the QEII all those years ago. It only takes one cruise ship for the peo­ple that go on it to pass the in­for­ma­tion on to friends and fam­ily. It’s word-of-mouth, and all the ar­ti­cles we’ve had writ­ten, and the im­ages that are on­line al­ready, it’s a knock-on ef­fect, and there are many com­peti­tors who are now fol­low­ing suit. One of the great things about be­ing on a cruise ship is that time stops, whereas we’re so used to get­ting on a plane and ar­riv­ing as quickly as pos­si­ble. I think that there is that re­ally nice feel­ing of tak­ing time and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the sky, the sea, the en­vi­ron­ment, and peo­ple’s con­cept of what a cruise is – or was – can now be dif­fer­ent. And ob­vi­ously, Celebrity Cruises will be able to ac­com­mo­date all ages, so they will still have their ex­ist­ing cruise ships and what that of­fers to those peo­ple that want that, and now they’re of­fer­ing some­thing which is dif­fer­ent, which is Edge. Also, a lot of my friends are start­ing to go on cruise lin­ers now, and I don’t know if that’s just be­cause I’m in­volved with it now, and I know what’s com­ing. It’s a bit like when you want to buy a cer­tain car and then that’s all you see, so I don’t know if that’s just in my con­scious­ness now but peo­ple I would never have thought would go on a cruise ship have done so.

Where is your favourite place to travel?

Oh god, any­where in Asia, Italy, Capri, I’m about to go to Cor­sica where I’ve never been be­fore, so I’m re­ally ex­cited for that. I mean, any­where re­ally. I just love travel!

Why do you think LGBTQ trav­ellers should choose a cruise as their next hol­i­day?

I know that Pride is very much some­thing that Celebrity Cruises cel­e­brates, we’ve been work­ing on all this amaz­ing light­ing and all the colours for Pride, so that’s very much a part of our ideation for our cruise ships and what we’re do­ing. It’s some­thing they’ve been do­ing for many years. But for me, it doesn’t mat­ter who you are, it’s just whether you want to have a new ex­pe­ri­ence that is less fre­netic as the other ways of travel. We’ve got amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and we’re re­ally think­ing of ev­ery lit­tle de­tail. There’s won­der­ful food and the spa treat­ments are in­sane. I would say if any­body feels like hav­ing amaz­ing sur­round­ings beau­ti­fully de­signed by moi, and re­ally hav­ing an in­cred­i­ble trip, go with some friends and ex­pe­ri­ence it, be­cause this is go­ing to be a very new era of travel.

Are there any trends in in­te­rior de­sign that you’re lov­ing right now that our read­ers can em­u­late at home?

Well, ev­ery­one that knows me knows that I don’t fol­low trends, so th­ese are my own ideas, but I would say that the home is more im­por­tant now than it ever was. I think that more and more peo­ple of all de­mo­graph­ics – es­pe­cially young – are hav­ing to rent to­day be­cause they can’t buy, they can’t af­ford to, and there­fore do­ing things which are easy that make your en­vi­ron­ment beau­ti­ful, but which you can take away with you, are things such as rugs, hid­den floor light­ing, wall­pa­per that you can place up against a wall, floor-stand­ing lights, new cush­ions, loose cov­ers that you can put on fur­ni­ture. Just cre­at­ing en­vi­ron­ments that work for you. We’ve just launched a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dis­ney, and we’ve done all th­ese great wall­pa­pers and rugs, and it’s amaz­ing how you can just do one wall of some­thing and cre­ate some­thing re­ally ex­cit­ing, and that can change the way your home looks or feels. But for me, more than fol­low­ing trends, it’s un­der­stand­ing how you want to live. My neu­tral in­te­ri­ors are al­ways a re­ally good base, be­cause it means they last longer and you can add bits of colour with your ac­ces­sories and cush­ions and what­ever. So that’s my idea of a trend, to re­ally un­der­stand your­self and not fol­low a trend, but fol­low some­thing that works for you. And buy one lit­tle piece of vin­tage fur­ni­ture!

To have a taste of a life at sea visit celebri­ty­cruises. co.uk, or find them on Twit­ter @Celebri­tyCruise.

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