Blending Beauty and Functionality in Wood Flooring: Insights from Interior Designer Laurence Katz

Feb 13, 2024

Each year, Decorex, the UK's premier interior design event, selects a designer to envision the central bar for its event. Recently, it was Laurence Katz, the founder of Elemental Studio. Laurence turned the space into a captivating oasis, highlighting the works of various artists. The setting, alive with nature's melodies and birdsongs, reflected Elemental Studios' passion for vivid colours, art, and sustainability.

Originally from France, Laurence has called the UK home for over two decades. Ecohardwood collaborated with Elemental Studio on various oak wood flooring projects. We talked to a talented interior designer on choosing the right products for your home or commercial space projects.

Please could you tell us how did you embark on your career as an interior designer?

My background is quite unusual. After completing a Master’s in Business Studies and working in marketing for BMW for many years, I felt a strong pull towards something I've always loved - homes and interiors. Working in the luxury industry, I developed a keen eye for detail and quality, which made me think I could transition into a different world. So, in 2011, I decided to retrain and pursue a degree in Interior Design at the KLC School of Design in London.

Decorex interior design
Decorex prestigious Champagne Bar by Elemental Studio interior design. Photo: Flashwire.

Now that you're an established interior designer, how would you describe your style, and what sets Elemental Studio apart from others?

My studio revolves around three pillars: colour, sustainability, and art. I love colour and prefer it over neutrals. Sustainability, particularly in terms of sourcing, is very important to me. I try to find and work with companies and individuals prioritising ethical and environmentally responsible practices. Finally, I attempt to infuse the spaces I design with artistic elements, aiming to introduce a layer of uniqueness and quirkiness that sets them apart from the ordinary.
st johns wood flooring london
Oak flooring: Ecohardwood. Colour: Nordic White. Grade: Prime. Interio Design: Elemental Studio. Project in London, St John's Wood. Photo: Alexa Roche.

As specialists in wood flooring, we're interested in your insights on how crucial flooring is to the ambience and function of a room.

Flooring is fundamental to any design. It's where I start because it sets the stage for everything else. Suitable flooring needs to be aesthetically pleasing and practical, especially in a home with children and pets.. I prefer wood floors for their hygiene and the warmth and style they can add to a space. Practicality is also crucial. Despite the common belief that interior design focuses only on aesthetics, practical aspects like easy maintenance are essential to me, especially as a working mom. Choosing flooring that is easy to maintain and flooring colour that doesn't show every little spill or crumb right away is important.

Speaking of practicality, what are your thoughts on wood floors vs. carpets?

I'm not a fan of carpets. I find hardwood flooring much more hygienic and practical, though I understand the appeal of having something soft underfoot in bedrooms. Instead, I prefer using rugs to add warmth and contrast while maintaining the practical benefits of hard flooring.

Flooring is a long-term investment, often lasting decades and one of the most substantial costs in a design project. It's not something you want to replace often. What advice would you give for selecting the ideal flooring?

I suggest starting with thorough research. First, decide on the material, like wood or tiles, and then choose a colour and pattern. It’s essential to use samples directly in the intended space rather than just viewing them in a studio or factory. Also, consider whether you’ll be using underfloor heating, as this can influence the types of flooring materials suitable for your space.

You've recently used Ecohardwood Nordic White oak flooring in a St John’s Wood flat revamp. Could you tell us more about that project?

This particular client preferred a touch of colour but nothing too bold, leading us to choose a muted colour palette throughout the flat. We converted a rundown two-bedroom flat into a one-bedroom flat. The new flooring was installed throughout, except in the bathroom. Clients desired a calm atmosphere; they don't reside there permanently and might rent it out occasionally. A slightly neutral scheme suits this purpose well.

wood flooring st john's wood
Oak flooring: Ecohardwood. Colour: Nordic White. Grade: Prime. Interio Design: Elemental Studio. Project in London, St John's Wood.

Can you share any recent inspirations or trends in sustainable design that have caught your attention, especially any experiences at trade shows like Decorex?

House of Hackney received the award for the best sustainable design at Decorex, and learning about their processes during a meeting there was genuinely fascinating. There are always new and exciting developments happening. Additionally, I have a deep appreciation for art that incorporates recycled elements. Many artists focus on repurposing materials instead of creating new ones, especially within mixed media art, which is very appealing.

Besides trade shows, where do you find inspiration and stay updated on interior design news and trends?

I keep up with popular sources Living, House and Gardens, and World of Interiors magazines. I frequently visit art galleries. The worlds of art and interior design are closely intertwined. In London, my go-to places are the Tate Modern and the Royal Academy.

What has been the most memorable praise you've received for your design work?

That my designs are comfortable, vibrant, exciting, and unique. Many clients appreciate my patience and calm demeanour, which are especially important in managing the stress that can come with big projects.

How do you manage the pressures of interior projects, and what strategies would you recommend?

Effective communication and honesty are crucial. These principles are fundamental to me and are fundamental values of my business. Being honest and transparent in all interactions is key.

What are your hobbies and interests beyond the world of interior design?

I own a charming cocker spaniel, which means I spend a significant amount of time walking and exploring new parks, though we often find ourselves at Hampstead Heath. Swimming is a weekly ritual for me, serving as a time for reflection. I've also begun practising Tai Chi on Monday evenings, an incredibly beneficial activity for meditation and stress relief, which is vital in my line of work. As my children have grown older, I've started to travel more, engaging in adventurous activities such as challenging hikes. Nature and meditation are significant sources of inspiration and relaxation for me.

Finally, any practical tools or apps you find indispensable for your work?

Mydoma Studio is a platform that allows me to manage projects efficiently, share mood boards, and keep clients updated. It's about streamlining processes to ensure efficiency and transparency in every project.

We popped down to the showroom last year and ordered 2-layer Ivory, brushed character planks which we saw online. It was worth the journey as the planks are as beautiful as we thought. We also wanted flooring that the builder would enjoy working with as there is a lot of floor. Fircim Bici (our builder) was really impressed with the quality. But most of all, we have lived with this floor for five months and had many comments as it how beautiful it is.
Our experience at Indomo Ltd has always been positive with Ecohardwood. Their flooring offers an ideal balance between quality and price while being eco-friendly, which is perfect for our clients. The prompt arrival of samples and friendly customer service made the experience smooth. We have specified their flooring throughout the spaces of our project, including the kitchen, as we trust its durability and versatility.
We recently collaborated with Ecohardwoods for our project in Ealing, and I must say, the experience was outstanding. A special thanks to Irmantas for his invaluable assistance. His expertise in engineered wood was evident in the quality of materials we received. The precision and quality of their engineered wood contributed immensely to the aesthetic and durability of our project. Our clients were extremely pleased with the results. Kudos to Irmantas and the Ecohardwoods team for their exemplary service and top-tier products. Highly recommend them for anyone in need of premium engineered wood supplies.
Hamilford Design have used Ecohardwood floors across multiple projects. The product is incredible and the team are extremely professional and efficient. We look forward to working with them in the future!
Highly motivated approach to customer service, exceptionally high quality flooring, delivered exactly on the day that was first estimated, extremely pleased and satisfied with the whole experience and will be placing another order in the next month or two for phase 2 of my flooring project.
Ecohardwood Ltd - Hardwood Oak Flooring & Engineered Wood Floors London
(67) 5/5