Interview with Laurence Llewelyn Bowen

Pippa Jameson Interiors loves to report on exciting and stylish interiors so when we had the opportunity to interview Laurence about his new Matalan collection; how could we resist!  Here he talks to our savvy Shopping Contributor Liz Danon about his thoughts behind the collection as well as his trend predictions and advice on how to put a look together. We also show you a selection of our favourite pieces from his collection…

What has influenced your flamboyant design throughout the years?
Well, flamboyance! I love the term flamboyance, it’s a word that actually weirdly means something very specific in an architectural context; it means a flaming arch, derived directly from French gothic architecture. It’s such a great word, it’s got a wonderful rhythm to it. My inspiration is feel-good design, it’s feel-good design with a good healthy dose of bump and grind to it. I like things to be grown-up, sexy, fun and exuberant. I don’t like things to be understated. I hate roundhead designs, it’s cavalier designs that make me get up in the morning.

How have you created a range that is individual to Matalan?
Every collection has a very strong identity to it. The first collection was called Black Chateaux, then we had Hollywood Rose, we’ve now got Opera and I’m working on Tsar at the moment, and I think that’s pretty critical to the fact that they work so well. It’s that I approach them as haute couture products. They are about expressing a very particular fantasy, if you like. Everything in each collection is there as part of an interior lifestyle jigsaw that’s happening in the back of my mind, that conjures up a particular association. So at the moment with the Opera collection everything is about femininity, it’s about theatricality, it’s about making big emotional statements, all to the background of extraordinarily big bad beautiful music.

Who is your favourite designer?
Nicky Haslam.

What are your tips for 2010 interior design?
Assemble your room like you assemble your outfit, so take bits from all over your experience. Buy stuff at airports, get stuff on holiday, go to car boot sales, go to the sales. Buy expensive things and put them next to very accessible affordable things from my range at Matalan. But have an overwhelming idea of identity behind it. Who do you want to be through your interior? Do you want to be an opera diva, do you want to be a Tzarina, do you want to be a Hollywood movie star? Express a personality through interior decoration.

How do you feel you have made your mark/ influence on your range for Matalan.
Everything I’ve got in the ranges has my design DNA in it and this is one of the reasons that I love working so closely with the team at Matalan – I’m encouraged to leave my mark, there’s no hint of what I do being ’em-beiged’ by the buying or design teams, it’s intensified almost.

What is your favourite room in the home to design and why?
I love bedrooms because I think that they are a inner sanctum.

How do you gather daily inspiration?
I think that the secret of design is to be constantly aware of what surrounds you and remember it. I’m very lucky; my greatest resource is having an extremely good memory. I can remember architectural details, I can remember colours, elements that then sit around in the bouillabaisse that happens between my ears and occasionally randomly things float to the surface in the most odd and unusual combinations, that then become the basis of a new creative idea.

How do you collate new ideas?
The secret is not to control it or deliberately collate it. It’s not to see something and say right I’m going to do that, or right I’m going to be inspired by that, or indeed right I’m going to copy that. Actually the best thing you can possibly do is to be constantly inputting down loading information and just leaving it to ferment in your torpid imagination until it becomes pure grains of booze.

What has been your favourite design project?
It’s always the one I’m working on.

What was your inspiration behind the collection?
I take my inspiration for each collection from different areas of my cultural life. It’s also a lot to do with the way people are feeling about themselves. We’re about to move into a phrase for spring/summer where people are wanting to be a lot more exuberant with the way that they decorate their homes and also the way they entertain. It’s not about spending money, and this is the big joy with Matalan, that it’s not about the money – it’s the design. By the time we get to autumn/winter I’m creating this personality, this identity based around the doomed, decayed, decadent but extraordinarily beautiful world of the last Tzars in Russia. Imperial Russia with its sparkling jewel colours and heavy ornate patterns I think is perfect for autumn/winter 2010.

How are they such good value?
The economies of scale and the very intelligent clever buying principles means that these things can be created at very little cost. We use a lot of modern technology, we use a lot of modern materials to give a grand historical style, the kind of availability and accessibility that people want at out price point.

What would you say is your all time favourite design piece?
The Great bed of Ware in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

What is the most expensive item you’ve bought?
That’ll be a 17th Century manor house.

Have you ever made any major design faux pas
Yes but I’m not owning up to any of them!

Interview by Elizabeth Danon


Meet Pippa

Pippa Jameson is an author, tv designer and interiors expert. The previous interior editor on several leading UK titles, Pippa has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Throughout her 25-year career, Pippa’s unique and creative approach has won her commissions for large retail brands and celebrities to deliver exciting and engaging projects. 

She’s written the curriculum for the British College of Interior Design, produced and styled shoots for well-known brands including John Lewis, H&M & Team GB/DFS, worked as an International Stylist for leading paint brands in Asia, consulted on the launch and creative direction of major retail names including George Home and Wren, and most recently, published her first book, The Sensory Home. Pippa possesses expertise unmatched in the interior industry.