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Interviews

Shona Patel: Delivering the design is the hardest part

design stories x eporta

Every designer has their own story to tell. We sat down with Shona Patel, Founder of London based design and management company SP3 London to discuss hers.

Shona Patel, CEO and Founder of SP3 London
Master Bathroom in Knightsbridge Apartment
Shona Patel, CEO and Founder of SP3 London
Master Bathroom in Knightsbridge Apartment

Tell us a little bit about yourself and SP3 London?

My forte is project management and the delivery of a design. I've been in the high-end residential design industry now for 15 years. I started my career in architecture, then transitioned into interiors. I work with very creative people and my role is to oversee the build on site to deliver their concepts. Procurement is also key to SP3 London, we will procure and fully install the FF&E.

What made you want to run a design business?

I’ve always been creative, and I've been really fortunate to have had exposure to great design. I studied art, business and maths, at A-level which was quite a mix but meant I could combine and cultivate my creative and business mind.

Training as an architect gave me a great foundation in the industry. It allowed me to understand technical details, it also taught me the importance of working alongside others to make a project work. I was lucky enough in my early career to gain a lot of on-site experience; working in teams with interior designers, project managers and contractors. My enthusiasm for interior design has truly grown over the years. It’s an amazing feeling to be part of the team delivering great design.

Accents of azure blue are pulled out from the clients artwork to bring this scheme together
Accents of azure blue are pulled out from the clients artwork to bring this scheme together

What's the best part of your job?

The final getting it over the line. The massive 'wow' moment for me is when a client walks in and sees what you've done and loves it. All the hard work and time you've put in becomes worth it. The highs and lows of the journey from the issues on site through to the late night. Everything becomes so worthwhile in that one split second. There’s this feeling of pride that's hard to explain because you've delivered the design they'd imagined.

What's the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part is the delivery of design, it’s one of the trickiest things to get right. That’s really why I set up SP3 London. A lot of interior design companies are great at design – they’re conceptual and creative – but when it gets to site that’s really when it can fall down. Even though it’s hard, it’s the challenge that I love. That’s why we also work alongside other interior designers to assist them with the delivery of a project.

On my first project, having just set up SP3 London, I had a very tight deadline. I thought to myself “this is real now and the deadlines are tight, how am I going to resource this”. I hadn’t had the chance to build my team and eporta offered me an easy way to stay creative, by keeping everything in one place. For me, it was like having an assistant. The eporta team put forward a selection of great products that I could curate and pull together. They really cut out a lot of the legwork for me allowing me to focus on delivering a great design on time and in budget.

Living area of Knightsbridge Apartment
Living area of Knightsbridge Apartment

What's your proudest design moment to date?

The project we’re sitting in right now (a 3-bed 3-bathroom stunning apartment in Knightsbridge as seen above and below). It’s a full turnkey SP3 London project. We've led the interior design from start to finish- specifying and procuring the FF&E, managing the fit out and coordinating the various disciplines on site. The client is absolutely over the moon with what we've delivered. The client was great, they trusted us to get the job done, we took on their brief, chose the core palette with them and then they left us to be creative with it. We had some budget and programme constraints. However, this is all part of the challenge to deliver great design no matter what.

Master Bedroom in Knightsbridge Apartment
Master Bedroom in Knightsbridge Apartment

What inspires your projects?

Firstly, my clients, they are often passionate, and design orientated themselves, coming to us with ideas of their own. Then I would say my peers, I look out there and see what’s going on in the industry. I would love to browse social media daily, but unfortunately, time is not always on my side. Instead, I reach out to my friends in the design community and visit their projects when they are finished. Between us, we share knowledge, and the same applies to suppliers and contractors too. It’s good to see what’s out on the market and generally what else is going on in the wider world.

Devils in the details- The rounded walls of this hallway soften the space wonderfully as well as the halo lighting along the corridor joinery unit.
Devils in the details- The rounded walls of this hallway soften the space wonderfully as well as the halo lighting along the corridor joinery unit.

What would be your one piece of advice for a designer just starting out?

I worked for a property developer when I graduated and was thrown in at the deep end. To be honest, it was the best three years of my early career as I learnt so much and realised my strengths and weaknesses. I also learnt how every facet of a project comes together and a lot about running a design business. I don’t think it’s about the course you do. If you're creative, passionate and have a good eye then you will learn more on the job. So, my advice would be, try and intern or undertake work experience at a design practice. This will also help you understand which part of the industry you actually enjoy. You can always do a course afterwards if necessary.

Guest Bedroom in Knightsbridge Apartment
Guest Bedroom in Knightsbridge Apartment

Our quick fire round- the first answer that crosses your mind is all that counts.

Where is your happy place?

Lake Como, anywhere by water is my happy place.

If you were an animal what would you be?

Tiger, I can be headstrong when required but also chilled out when need be.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be doing?

Something maths or business orientated in the city.

Share your design story with us today on Instagram or Twitter.

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