This month we had the immeasurable please of talking to Nina Campbell. Nina has been in business for probably longer than she would care to mention, she is moving with the times but stays true to her innate style. Nina started her career at 19 as an assistant to John Fowler and it has been onwards and upwards since then. Featured in House and Gardens top 100 since its inception, she is a true design force to be reckoned with, and seems to be busier than ever.
Probably a hard question to answer but do you have a favourite project?
I find I always get wrapped up in my current projects, as opposed to the past ones. I have four that I am currently working on; in Jordan, Maine, Wales and Australia.
I get very involved, imagining how my clients are going to live in the spaces that we create.
You have been going for 50 years, how has your style changed in that time?
I hope it has evolved. The core values of my work have always remained the same however.
I strive for quality, detail, comfort and suitability. I am always reminded of Elsie de Wolfes’ mantra of “suitability, practicality and proportion”
What is your best kept secret?
Oh gosh, I don’t know that I have one, I tell everyone everything!
Your house is on fire what one thing do you save?
All dogs are safe, yes? If so, I have a Parkinson photograph of my father that is very precious to me, that is what I would save.
When not working, what do you do to unwind?
I used to read a lot but now I find myself curled up with my iPad watching shows like ‘Schitt’s Creek’ and ‘Call my agent’. I like shows that go on forever because I am up all the time and always on a slightly different time zone because of traveling for work. I also do a bit of online perusing and enjoy calling far flung friends who are up at the same time for a catch up, this I really enjoy.
What inspires you?
Anything and everything. When walking around I love to look up, especially somewhere like America where you have an ugly shop front, and then look up and see remnants from the great depression era with most amazing frieze or carving on a building façade.
Obviously going to museums and exhibitions is an endless source of inspiration. I recently went to the Epic Iran exhibition at the V&A with inspiration striking from the smallest detail or a piece in its entirety, it is all inspirational.
What do you hope to find under the Christmas tree this year?
At the moment gloves and socks because it is freezing! I find myself mostly thinking of what to do for my five grandchildren, and what to get them. Fortunately, some of them are getting a bit older now so clothes are becoming interesting to them, which makes things a lot easier.
But for myself I would love some Acid green vegetable dyed napkins from Guinevere. I am in love with bright vibrant greens at the moment, so am looking to make a green and white table for Christmas this year. Vicky de Rothschild had a jealousy inducing table display once in oranges and pinks with nasturtiums that I fell in love with. Any new colour sparks a fun new journey for table displays.
Is there a piece you bought for a client that you wish you could have kept for yourself?
Funnily enough the 1st piece I bought from Kate Malone was an over-scale acorn for a client, and I simply thought ‘I have to possess this’. What it did was start a friendship with Kate and set me on a path of using 3D art which I hadn’t imagined doing before.
What do you consider the biggest design Faux Pas?
To constantly talk about “good taste” it is annoying.
Nina’s selection of favourite items;