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 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.
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.
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.