Meet The Designer
After years working in the legal profession in Jersey, Gina Tillotson moved to Northumberland in 2009 to concentrate on building a family and raising two small children with her husband Ian. Having always been enthusiastic about art and design, she chose to follow her heart and turned this passion into a career.
Q: What lead to you becoming an Interior Designer?
Gina: I have travelled the world for many years gathering inspiration from numerous styles of architecture and interiors. I was always asked by friends for advice on décor, and given it is something I felt strongly about I decided to undertake a Professional Diploma with The British College of Interior Design for fun. This was a superbly structured course, and it was shortly after starting it that I pondered over the prospect of seriously commencing a career in this business. We spend so much time at work that it is important for us to enjoy what we do.
Q: What areas of the industry do you specialise in?
Gina: I can advise on all aspects of interior décor, accessories, colours, lighting, fabrics and furnishings, and I am combining this with more and more high end bespoke cabinetry, kitchens and project management these days. I had the initial idea of dressing properties for sale as there is a definite gap in this market, because sadly few people have the vision to see how a place can be developed. I nevertheless quickly got involved with high end residential projects, ranging from luxurious country houses to more relaxed beach side residences and sharp state of the art kitchens. The hospitality industry is an area of great personal interest, and I have a couple of industrial-styled commissions in the pipeline. I hold with a belief that sophisticated and well-designed interiors are achieved by combining modern styles with classical architecture. It isn’t about following trends – I believe that décor should be both stylish and timeless.
Q: So does mixing modern décor with traditional features reflect your own personal taste?
Gina: I suppose to a certain extent it does as our home could be described this way. My own taste is constantly evolving, not necessarily with fashions or trends, but when I see something that strikes a chord in me I feel excited. At the moment, I’m leaning towards darker décor with industrial styled windows and edgy tiled designs. I have always adored Arabic ceramics and am a huge fan of dark wooden furniture, teamed with metals, glass and huge swathes of white textiles all complimenting each other. My home in Jersey had lots of very pale fresh looking textiles and dark wood, but that would be totally impractical with small children. It would also feel quite cold up here in the Northumbrian climate, where I believe an element of warmth is required. There are certain styles I wouldn’t want in our home, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them for their own sake.
Q: What would you do if a client asked you to design something you didn’t like?
Gina: I tend to ask people to provide me with pictures which inspire them. I pride myself on listening to my clients, so that when they describe their lifestyle and personal style preferences I can deliver on the promise of a home which is both in harmony with and represents the best of their personality. Most clients will openly admit if they are not very adventurous with regard to colour schemes, so I always ask whether they mind me making suggestions, even if they may be too cautious to implement them.
What I produce reflects on me as a designer, so clearly I want my work to look good. If somebody has contracted me they have done so as they want guidance, but I also appreciate that when a job is over I don’t have to live with it. As such I see my role as listening to a client's hopes for a scheme then injecting my interpretation so that it looks good, works well and suits them. Everyone’s tastes are different and while I may be disappointed if any of my proposals are dismissed I’m never offended.
Q: And what if a project seemed too garish?
Gina: Ha, well obviously I want my clients to be happy so I aim to achieve a space which is in harmony with and reflects their taste. If I thought it were utterly dire I would propose changes to their plans, but bold can be beautiful and we all need to respect each other's choices. I aim to translate who somebody is into their surroundings and with attention to detail over the finishing touches I can generally pull something together so that it flows.
Q: What do you consider the 3 most important elements to good design?
Gina: Light, Space and Vision – without a doubt.
Q: What’s next?
Gina: I’m off to Scottish Interiors later this month and London Design Week 2018 in March where look forward to meeting with and gleaning ideas from well-established designers of all genres. I am also interested in ecologically sustainable design, or as I call it dECOr, so I shall be actively seeking out designers in Chelsea who specialise in this area.
Q: What about your artwork?
Gina: Until last year, it had just been for family and friends. I'm now doing more commercial abstract work as and when I have the time.
Q: Ok, so random question, but if you could be any other nationality what would it be?
Gina: French undoubtedly. My family originate from France and we spent all of our holidays there as children. Jersey is only 14 miles from the french coast, I studied French and Spanish at University in Scotland and I used to live in Paris as an English Assistant during my year out. I adore french architecture, style, cuisine and love the countryside as much as their stunning cities.
Q: Any final thoughts?
Gina: I believe a house should tell the story of the lives of those who live there. That is what makes it a home: It isn’t just about structure, but shared experiences, cultural influences, practicalities and, of course, comfort too. I aim to create beautiful homes and spaces which inspire my clients to feel their best.
"It is with great pleasure that I write to support Diploma Graduate, Gina Tillotson. Gina was a standout student at the British College of Interior Design and I was privileged to work with her as her tutor for The Professional Interior Design Course.
Gina was quick to learn and develop new skills which were reflected in her assignment submissions. Completed projects were promptly delivered and I was always impressed with Gina’s ability to follow the given brief.
Demonstrating a high quality of work ethics, Gina showed commitment to each project and a love for learning which will see her flourish in a dynamic industry.
It is with no hesitation that I recommend Gina in taking on professional assignments and I will be following her endeavours with great interest."
British College of Interior Design.