Designer Moira Spencer took an unconventional route to her career and has found herself in an equally unusual niche.
“I think I’m the only designer in the UK doing exactly what I’m doing,” she laughs. In addition to her unique specialism (of which more later), Moira offers a full domestic interior design service.
“I’ve always been interested in colour, and I’m a keen watercolour artist,” she says. “I’d always dabbled a bit but took it up again seriously about seven years ago. I had a lot of success – I was exhibited, and sold some paintings, and some of my work was published, which gave me confidence. At the same time, I was doing up my own house and got so many positive comments about what I was doing. I’m not a beige person, and I used lots of bold colour and texture. The response I got from friends was what really got me thinking I could do this as a career.
“I’ve worked in publishing for 30 years but was so interested in the design side that I started doing a diploma in Professional Interior Design with the National Design Academy. I already had a lot of experience in creative design with working on the magazines, and I did 15 hours a week on top of my full-time job to eventually qualify in April 2018 after a year’s work. I enjoyed it so much that I realised this was where my interest really lay. I decided to ‘jump off a cliff’, quit my fulltime job and go for it!”
Moira set up Glove & Lotus, a design company with a difference. Using her experience working on martial arts and sports magazines, she’s offering a design service to sports clubs and gyms alongside her more conventional work.
“Organisations like martial arts clubs don’t realise how much they have to offer,” she says. “They’re so diverse and should really be capitalising on their USP. They need to develop their own style, from the matting to the logo. For martial arts clubs, 70% of the clientele are normally children and young people, and that’s often not factored into the design.
I like to design a product that engages as many senses as possible, from touch to smell. If you walk into a gym and all you can smell is rancid sweat, that’s pretty off-putting! I’d always recommend something like incense burning to suggest a sense of place, as smell is so strongly linked to memory.
“The same ideas carry forward into a domestic space, as well. A designer will look at the way you use your space and take an objective view – when you live in a house, it’s surprisingly difficult to see how you could use your rooms differently! You might have a problem space you can’t think what to do with, or a particular piece of furniture you’re keen to incorporate.
If you haven’t considered using a design service, it’s much more accessible that you might think, and you can start at any level you want. A consultation need only cost a few hundred pounds, and you can have as much involvement as you want. I offer everything from a simple mood board to kick start your own ideas, to a full end-to-end service. I can show you samples and swatches, give ideas for window treatments, wallpaper or flooring, mock up wall elevations, draw up lighting schematics, source suppliers and offer trade discounts.
“In my experience, people are frightened of colour and they really shouldn’t be – after all, paint isn’t permanent!
Your home is the one place you can really express your personality, so go with your gut instinct. If you love purple, go for it, but maybe just add some touches to start with. There’s always a way to inject the right amount of colour to create the mood you want. Colour has a huge effect on mood, so don’t pick it for how it looks but rather for how it makes you feel. Use texture in rugs, throws, lampshades, even on the walls.
Remember, friends will rarely walk into your house and say, ‘Oooh, I love what you’ve done with all the beige!”
For more information about Moira, please visit www.gloveandlotus.com.