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 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 advise on all aspects of interior décor, accessories, colours, lighting, flooring, fabrics and furnishings. Over the years I have combined this with more and more high end bespoke residential work ranging from cabinetry design, kitchens, bathrooms and a complete project management service so that I can ensure that my clients do not have the stresses of chasing products and tradesmen. I work closely at the front end with a tried and tested team of subcontractors throughout each project to be certain of the standards delivered.
Q: Was this always your goal?
Gina: I had the initial idea of simply dressing properties for sale as there is a definite gap in this market: sadly few people have the vision to see how a property can be developed so a house has to be presented well. 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 apartments. Showing people what can be achieved in their space to make it work for them, and seeing their delight when it all comes together is so fulfilling.
Q: Does mixing modern décor with traditional features reflect your own personal taste?
Gina: Not always, but I do 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. 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. I recently went through a phase of 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. 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: What I produce reflects on me as a designer and if somebody has contracted me they have done so as they want guidance. I obviously want my work to look good, but I also appreciate that when a job is over I leave, so a scheme needs to work for each individual or family. As such I see my role as listening to a client's aspirations for a scheme then injecting my interpretation so that it 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. 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.
Q: And what if a commission seems too garish?
Gina: Obviously, I aim to achieve a space in which my clients will be happy and reflects their taste. Bold can be beautiful and we all need to respect each other's choices, so in such a situation I aim to translate who somebody is into their surroundings and, with attention to detail over finishing touches, I can 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. The latter is the trickiest as it is where you add texture, colour and interest according to the first two.
Q: What’s next?
Gina: I’m interested in pushing the ecologically sustainable elements of design, or as I call it dECOr. I am constantly seeking out suppliers who specialise in this area, for example I am currently using a lot of luxury carpets made from upcycled old fishing nets: It is impossible to tell that these ranges stem from anything other than a desire to produce quality floor coverings and they are extremely durable too. I always try to source products locally first to boost the local economy and reduce our carbon footprint, and I am also encouraging clients to make the most of Green Grants and Renewable Heat Incentives to upgrade their properties into ECO homes. Air Source Heat Pumps are a great way to go with reducing our use of costly, dirty fossil fuels.
Q: What about your artwork?
Gina: Until some years back it had just been for family and friends. I have since done more commercial abstract work as well as some commissions 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 so it is like a second home to me. 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. 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 such as pictures and art, cultural influences, practicalities and, of course, comfort too. I aim to create beautiful homes and spaces which inspire my clients to feel their best amidst their own treasured possessions.
"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.