The Designers' Advisor Asks: Emma Hooton

Emma Hooton

Studio Hooton

Emma Hooton set up an interior design practice in Winchester following a KLC diploma and experience working with a Top 100 designer in London. Emma and her team focus on large country house projects from the architects' concepts upwards. Passionate about the detailed technical aspects as well as the finished result, Emma’s studio pushes the boundaries with original, contemporary design that works with everyday life. Muddy dogs and children's wellies can be managed alongside cutting-edge fittings, finishes and technology.

As an interior designer or brand, how has the pandemic affected your work?

Studio Hooton have moved pretty smoothly from the studios to our home locations and are operating as usual, which is great. We miss our chats and catch-ups during the day but have replaced these with a big Skype at the beginning and end of each week to keep us all motivated and working as a team. Our work with clients has gone from face-to-face meetings to lots of online ones and we are able to progress with our projects in all aspects; for example, working from plans rather than site visits.

Further to that, how have you responded to the challenges? What measures have you put in place to not only ensure safe practices but to safeguard your business?

We are working hard on keeping projects moving, actioning everything we can during lockdown, so that when things are moving again, we only need to catch up on the elements that need us to be physically present. As always, we’re also looking to the future with our creative marketing team to maximise business going forward and, above all, are keeping a positive outlook.

We are all trying to find silver linings to this crisis. Some are finding more time to be creative – with or without children! – to think about issues in a different way, to explore a new skill or to improve an existing one. What has been your experience so far in terms of creative thinking and output?

It’s been quite an eye opener in terms of how much you can achieve remotely, and clients have been really happy to be online and to see their projects carrying on over this period. I think it’s good to explore how much more we could do very effectively remotely in future to get to decisions with more speed when required and to minimise unnecessary travel for clients who are often extremely busy.

Trying to stay on a positive note, we’d love to hear about any benefits you may have discovered amidst the difficulties?

As a team we are so happy to have quiet time to catch up on an extremely busy start to the year and get through our to-do lists without distraction, particularly when focussing on estimates or detailed drawings. We are also enjoying our gardens in the breaks and the time we would have been commuting in, as well as quality time with our households!

Looking ahead to the future, when this pandemic is behind us, we’ve been thinking about how this enforced shutdown might be an opportunity to do things – personally, professionally and as a society – a bit differently. We’re thus interested to know how, if at all, you might take your own business forward in a new way?

We have loved exploring new artists in this period and have formed lots of new connections with smaller craftsmen and makers who we are excited about working with, and who we would like to keep supporting going forward in particular. In terms of the commercial aspect, I think everyone will be looking at ways of adapting to new market demand. We are constantly reviewing and responding to this and are looking forward to the start of a new era.

Many thanks to Emma Hooton

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