Ten minutes with Nicola Harding

We chat to the interior designer about creating a tangible sense of home and the importance of timeless, sustainable details.

Ten minutes with Nicola Harding
Nicola Harding founded her eponymous interior design studio, Nicola Harding & Co, in 2008, (and, subsequently, lifestyle brand Nix by Nicola Harding) after treading a slightly less conventional path.

Working alongside renowned garden designer, Arne Maynard, Nicola spent five formative years immersed in the world of outdoor design.

When she then set out on her own, little by little, her attention turned from gardens to interiors.

‘I was asked by a few friends who’d seen my home if I could help them with their own. That then evolved into their friends asking, then their friends’ friends. It snowballed, but in an organic, gradual way,’ Nicola explains.

‘The blend of commercial and residential projects we now undertake [as a design studio] happened in a similarly steady way,’ she adds.

‘In most cases, the clients that come to us do so because they want something that doesn’t seem overly designed. When we’re asked to do a hotel it’s usually with a brief for the outcome to not look and feel too much like a hotel.'

By doing just that – creating homes from home, rather than homogenous hotels – Nicola and her design team were awarded the Pineapple Award for Hotel Design in 2021.
It’s clear that place and provenance are particularly important to Nicola’s work.

‘The colours, textures and materials I use are always led by the place itself: the building, the context in which it sits, the people who’ll be using it.

‘I work to establish the impression that the interior has evolved naturally over time. I’m interested in the vernacular details; the ingredients that are going to conjure a mood or atmosphere and create that authentic sense of place.’

Be it hard or soft, plain or patterned, when it comes to materials, it’s key they all share one thing in common: sustainability. ‘That’s both in terms of a material’s origins,’ she says, ‘but also how well it’ll endure.

‘In part, it means choosing materials that are appropriate for the place. That way, they’ll have a continued relevance and won’t date. But it’s also down to the integrity of the materials – if they’re good quality, they’ll last.’
We’re keen to hear what Nicola believes architectural details can bring to an interior.

‘When done well, they give weight to a scheme – and longevity.

‘If they start to fail, a space can quickly start to look tired. Getting those details right gives you a sure footing to create the rest of the scheme.

‘Having a consistent handwriting running through a property is key to making it feel joined up too. And I think that’s something that Corston does very well.’
First discovering our products through an architect, Nicola has since used Corston for numerous projects – including her London design studio.

‘We’ve learned that we can really trust both the products – they’re reliable and timeless – and the service.

‘There’s a user-friendly appeal. The ranges are ample and easy to navigate, and the customer service is professional and responsive. We work in a service industry, and time is precious. The more accessible a supplier is, the more efficient we can be.’

Watch our moodboard how-to videos with associate designer Kath Eustace from Nicola Harding
& Co