INSIGHTS INTO CREATING A ROOM FOR PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE
What a dream client! It was amazing to be able to dive into the world of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for a short time. Spoiler alert: I think they are beautiful inside and out. I can't wait to see what this power couple does with their public platform and global reach.
The design challenge was "to create a Mood Board for a library/study/home office" which marries the Los Angeles roots of Meghan and the English roots of Prince Harry. It is rumored, and for the purposes of this purposes of this story, they will be residing at Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. We don't know anything about the interior. There are no floorplans or elevations available and no images at all. There are only a handful of images of the ivy covered exterior of the 1,200 sq foot residence.
Here is some insight into the process of how I created an overall look for the royal couple whom I couldn't speak to and for a room I couldn't see.
LET'S START AT THE BEGINNING
To get started, I needed to dive into research about the royal couple, including their personal style, their lifestyle, and really try to think about how they would want to spend both their working moments and downtime in their home office. So far, pretty standard for any new client that works with me. The major exception being that I couldn't speak to them or see their home to get any information directly so first, I headed out to buy print magazines to get into the right mindset and to get some context for the project.
I also bought a 'Life' magazine on the couple. After all, I wanted to get to know their backstory a little more to make their space feel as personalized as possible. An early trip to Botswana, Africa was meaningful to them. They both are very philanthropic and they will focus on spreading their positive message together after the upcoming nuptials. They have traveled extensively together and separately on their outreach missions and their reach and vision is global. They have a playfulness and shorthand that is apparent. He proposed at home while preparing a simple meal, and this casual confident undertone is present in many of their public appearances and interviews.
Generally, as a designer I'm constantly looking for and pulling references from new clients based on a variety of factors, and their fashion is an important resource. (We tend to dress in colors we love and want around our body.) After digging deeper it became clear how tailored the couple's style is. Meghan in particular has a nonchalant but fashion forward conservative style that I found very inspirational. I knew the interior needed to be as stylish as these young royals so I also picked up the latest Vogue S/S 2018 Runway edition and started tagging.
BURBERRY SNEAKERS AND SILK PAJAMAS
'Burberry sneakers' spoke to me from the onset as a icon for them. Stylish, young, jet-set, informal. The marriage of a classic English fashion house and a California lifestyle staple. Casual and confident, with a little edge. With that idea, the framework for the room and mood board was set.
I still needed more context for a color palette so next I went down the Pinterest rabbit hole and started sourcing digital images. There, I realized a few important patterns: that Megan's Toronto apartment was published, and the overall palette was white and heavy on texture. Very California, very minimal. Both Harry and Megan appear as comfortable in blue jeans as they do in their official engagement photos. I also noted that Meghan doesn't appear to wear very much patterned clothing, and opts for a solid, warm neutral color palette. Only one key 'color' kept popping up with any consistency: a plum-like purple, berry, wine color (pictured below).
Here was my jumping off point for the room: neutral tones of white, brown, black and blue with a purple-red accent color to be folded into the mix.
HOW DOES SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STYLE MARRY TRADITIONAL STYLE?
Now that I know a bit more about the client, how does Southern California style marry with British Traditional style? The two actually have a strong undercurrent of themes if you have the background to dig into the two looks. I drew comparisons between the English Cottage Home and the classic California bungalow. English cottages are surrounded by organic life, greenery, gardens, etc. while SoCal strongly embraces the outdoor lifestyle and the surrounding diverse landscape. Both often have rustic elements, such as exposed wood, rusticated stone and textural plaster which honor the building materials of the home. They both blur the lines between indoor/outdoor living. British florals work their way inside to bring life and energy in all seasons, while Californians bring physical plants inside, and the warm climate makes it possible for year-round enjoyment of the outdoors. Cottages tend to be less formal in country surroundings then their city counterparts, which mimics Southern California's laid back lifestyle.
And so I landed here for my 'moodboard'. A Southern California-influenced space with traditional English references sprinkled throughout. It showcases a global curated collection which would often be present in a classic English library. Trinkets from travel like African beads, a touch of animal print. English themes continue with a Sherlock Holmes novel, a classic english floral print, as well as ivy and some tea. Then some California textural elements such as a fur throw, distressed wood and matte handmade ceramics. A photo strip shows their youth and playfulness. Topped off with a hat to cover them in both sun and rain for the jet-setting couple's travel between the two locations and beyond.
I think this is a perfect private spot for the newlyweds to sit back and relax by the fireside after a long day of charity work, or to come together at their 'partners desk', drop their laptops down with a cup of tea and figure out how to save the world.
Click here to view LA Times article "How will Meghan and Harry mash up California style and British (royal) tradition?"