The Designers' Advisor Asks: Melinda Kiss

Melinda Kiss

Keyhole Interiors

Melinda Kiss is the creative director of Keyhole Interiors, an interior design studio based in the North West of England. After studying literature and language studies but yearning for a creative career, Melinda started studying design while working for a distinguished local design company for several years. Keyhole Interiors was created in 2017. Working across the beautiful countryside of Lancashire, the Lake District and Cheshire, the studio is known for drawing inspiration from the surrounding landscapes and has established a reputation of creating liveable interiors with a playful elegance. Melinda's style celebrates the individual character of each building and she strives to design spaces people enjoy coming home to.

Melinda Kiss
Photography by Sarah Maria Photography

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

I think it’s fair to say that for the time being, the pandemic has flipped my professional life upside down! I imagine my situation is very similar to most designers. With ongoing projects being put on hold and no tradesmen allowed to work, we’re just waiting for everything to blow over so we can get back to our projects. Our job is very much about that personal touch, about getting to know clients and earning their trust. This is hard to do when you aren’t allowed to meet and work alongside people. We usually work to strict deadlines and everyone works together like a well-oiled machine, so having to let go of all that for the foreseeable has been a bit of an adjustment.

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?

The first thing we did as a company, even before the official lockdown was announced, was to start an honest conversation with our existing clients. We didn’t want to wait until things got worse or something happened on site due to our carelessness. We reached out to everyone and explained that before any project, our clients’ and trades’ safety comes first. We stopped allowing any third-party associates onto sites and moved all of our meetings onto a digital platform. We’re still working in the background and we offer a remote design service to anyone interested. For the most part, we’re trying to stay strong and relevant so that we can go full steam ahead the minute things get back to normal.

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?

I’m definitely one of those people who see an opportunity to learn something new when things get quiet. I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll do things I wouldn’t normally have time to do. I’ve had a look at the structure and fundamentals of my business, made tweaks to my website and brushed up on my AutoCAD skills. But I also feel like this has been the perfect time to look after not only my business, but also my mental and physical wellbeing. I’m reading a lot, teaching myself how to run again and I’m trying to get into meditating. I’m not sure how creative any of the above are, but they are helping me cut through all the noise, and I think that’s what’s most important right now.

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

I have found so much comfort in people – it has been wonderful to see how everyone is pulling together. The pandemic has changed our lives in such a fundamental way, and it has put a lot of things into perspective. We have been reminded that people are what matter! I think once this is over, we will come out of it with a new sense of togetherness and a need for each other. I am witnessing so many beautiful relationships develop on social media and in WhatsApp groups, and I know that they will only get stronger once we can physically be there for each other.

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?

Running a business while on lockdown has been an interesting experience! As scary as it has been, it has taught me a few valuable lessons I hope to take on board going forward. I’ve realised that being busy and having to rush are often just excuses and might lead to mistakes. There is time for a slower, more considered pace, which I plan on adopting once our projects start up again. I’ve also learnt that not everything needs a physical meeting. Decisions can be made via phone or video conference; cutting back on unnecessary meetings is beneficial for the client, for us and for the environment as well.

Many thanks to Melinda Kiss

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