London Design Week with McKinnon and Harris

Interior designers, landscape designers, and architects need to take a collaborative approach early in a project to create cohesive environments, according to our expert panel hosted by Katharine Pooley and McKinnon & Harris for London Design Week 2024.

The talk included renowned Landscape Architects Janice Parker and Randle Siddeley and was hosted by Noni Ware, Executive Editor of House and Garden Magazine. The group explored ‘Extraordinary Homes and Gardens Around the World,’ to a full-house at the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre on the afternoon of March 11.

As the panel discussed ‘Coastal Homes,’ ‘Countryside Estates,’ and ‘Urban City Living’ amongst a sea of spring tulips, the group generously shared insights into their most breathtaking projects through a visual presentation, some of which had never been shown to the public before.

The audience took their seats and nibbled on afternoon tea by Lottie Brook and glasses of champagne from Laurent Perrier. The beginning of the conversation was marked by Noni’s opening remarks on the ‘allure of beauty’ and the importance of capturing this beauty in iconic imagery.

“We ask people, why did you buy the magazine? And they respond. ‘We just love to dive into the magazine and look at the wonderful pictures.“

All have left their indelible mark on the spaces they have meticulously crafted, showcasing an unwavering attention to detail and profound respect for the inherent context of each project.

Katharine began with an impressive look into the design process behind the KPL south of France project Château de La Croix. Currently in its second phase, which includes work on the property’s tennis pavilion, spa and art gallery, this magnificent residence featured in Hitchcock’s 1955 romantic thriller To Catch A Thief, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.

The property is located on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and approached via a long driveway that passes through many acres of extraordinary Italianate formal gardens.

The slides progressed to reveal a sweeping property in Fairfield Country by Janice Parker, containing a formal rose garden, specimens of green cut leaf Japanese maple trees, clipped columnar hornbeams, Donald Wyman crabapples, Kousa dogwoods, and magnolias.

“I think, maybe even ten years ago, the garden and the interiors would often be treated as very separate things. Whereas I feel now there’s a real sort of blending.” Janice said.

“It’s a really soulful, spiritual experience to be outside. And I think that’s what people need and want. They’ve got to have a place to go to be there and to connect. I think it’s very important to get there. I think you need to take some into consideration where the sun rises, where it sets and of course viewpoints.”

“Just a moment to sit, look at your garden, just be in nature, is a really lovely thing to do,” Katharine added.

The experts mused on their varying but equally thoughtful and deeply considered approaches to design.

“Where a client is saying, let me hire the architect first, then we’ll do the designer and then in a year’s time we’ll do the landscaping – I believe it should all be done at the same time” Randle stated, “it must be cohesive and the inside reflects the outside and vice versa.”

Noni brought the conversation back to the present environment, musing on outdoor entertaining and the British lifestyle. “In England, where we definitely do not have the best weather for sitting outside or entertaining, we have embraced that whole idea of an outdoor seating area,” mentioning the introduction of an entire supplementary section in House and Garden around outdoor furniture.

“This is why we are in this showroom because it’s elegant and beautiful, but also because Mckinnon & Harris have the power of nice.”

Candle added that there were very few, or rather no other furniture companies that would put a watercolour done by a team member on the front of their catalogue, “this always drew me in, it’s very artistic and considered” he said.

Giving an insight to the considered choice of the discussion environment, they all agreed, furniture outside on average lasts five years, possibly seven – McKinnon & Harris have a lifetime guarantee and the quality is always delivered perfect. Their pieces are an investment and “pieces that we will have forever.”

Katharine shared images of her bolt hole hideaway in the Lake DistrictLittle Nut which contained her own collection of the McKinnon & Harris Beaufort design. “Every time I have breakfast out there I feel incredibly happy, watching the birds and wildlife, it’s just incredible.

The discussion came to a close with some sentiments around encouraging clients towards sympathetic design. “Clients believe you can just buy plants and bring them in,” Randle said, “in reality these wonderful tall trees take years and years to mature.”

Janice explained with her last set of slides the dynamic of keeping the charm and soul of a place, “the old brick pads, everyone wanted me to take them out, including the client. And I said, “No, I don’t think we can. They’re old. And they are the charm.” And they suggested using new ones that look old, and I said, “Well, but they won’t be old.”

“So we covered them with steel plates and lots and lots of mulch. And they stayed there for the three years of the construction. They absolutely are the soul of the place. The texture. And they’re real. You know, it is a to learn what to protect and what to let go.”

The discussion hosted by Katharine Pooley and McKinnon & Harris comes before their WOW!House collaboration, which will be unveiled in June and centres around a quintessentially British mood, the charm of summertime in the garden and a spot of tennis. Katharine summarised the discussion perfectly with two final points:

“To me, a garden is a very personal thing and a space for reflection. I was married in my garden under a big cedar tree. It’s a wonderful moment, after a walk around the garden to go up and just sit and contemplate – soak it all in.”

“I am a bit of a fidget, you know, a hiker, biker – I am always rushing. And my friend said a really lovely thing to me the other day, since COVID, we have all just got a bit better and stopping and standing and staring. I think that’s quite a nice way to look at it now, if there was anything positive to come out of it at all.”

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Katharine Pooley's top tips, design, ideas, trends and more...