Diana Yakeley is a renowned interior design partner in the architectural practice 'Yakely Associates'. Her work covers all aspects of high end contemporary design, both commercial and luxury residential in the UK and abroad. Diana has twice acted as President of the British Institute of Interior Design in 2005-2006 and 2011-2012 and we caught up with her to discuss her career highlights thus far and plans for the future!
Q) How did you first become interested in interior design and when did you decide that you would like to pursue it as a career?
My parents didn’t approve of a career in the arts, so I was in my thirties when I first qualified as an interior designer. I’ve always been interested in the fine grain of buildings and the power of good design, and being married to an architect has been a good career move!
Q) You are well known for your garden designs and ability to seamlessly blend exterior and interior spaces into a cohesive whole. Where do you find your garden inspiration and how do you strike the perfect balance with the interior scheme?
A) Each project is a prototype – the context and aspect of the site dictate so much, but I like gardens that look good all year round so texture and shape are important to the planting underpinned by a strong design structure.
Q) You have a particular interest in ‘imaginative lighting’. Who are your favourite lighting suppliers and how do you use lighting to enhance the mood of a space?
A) I really like a concealed framing projector light from John Cullen – such a minimal cutout but a dramatic way to light art works. And of course beautiful framing……! I ‘m also interested in a Lebanese design company .pslab who are doing very interesting work.
Q) What are your favourite materials to use in your design schemes and where do you like to source them?
A I tend to use glass, natural stone, leather – again contrasting textures that last and improve with age. I source them from whoever is the best at the time. Going to quarries and picking actual slabs of stone is a wonderful experience.
Q) Can you tell us about your experience as President of the British Institute of Interior Design, what you achieved and what changes you were able to implement, particularly with regards to professional practice?
A) It was such an honour to be President of an Institute and to help raise the profile of interior design as a profession. The launch of two client contracts for IDs and the BIID Interior Design Job Book were important steps forward in terms of professional practice.
Q) You still sit on the BIID council today. In what direction do you see the organisation developing over the coming years?
A) Upwards and onwards!
Q) What is the most ambitious and challenging interior design project you have ever undertaken?
A) A corporate jet for a Formula One team, which I worked on in Dallas. Fine tolerances, exacting regulations and a client who can turn around ground breaking technology in days , made for a demanding challenge
Q) Which young designers recently starting out in the industry would you recommend as ‘ones to watch’ for the future?
A) There are so many talented, passionate and gifted design graduates starting out it would be impossible to choose – I just hope there will be jobs for them all.
Q) You have had a highly successful career thus far, winning prestigious awards including the BIDA’s ‘Award of
Merit’. If you had to pick out one overall highlight what would it be?
A Being kissed by Sir Paul Smith at the highly successful BIID conference at the RIBA last year was pretty good…
Q) How important a role do you think fine art and frame design plays in interior design?
A) Absolutely key – my work tends to be pretty sparse but with the addition of perfectly framed art , rooms come to life. They also say a lot about the character of the client. My idea of bliss is an empty white room with a set of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s photographs, well framed of course.
Q) Where are your favourite haunts to relax outside of work?
A) Not sure designers ever switch off looking at design wherever they are. We spend a lot of time in Venice looking at the incredible complexity of that City, but I’m equally happy with London. I’m not very good at relaxing