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Sara Cosgrove on bespoke design

Sara Cosgrove, head of interior design at Harrods’ The Studio, speaks with InsideOut about her obsessions, meeting celebrities and design that inspires her in Dubai

Sara Cosgrove
Image Credit: Supplied picture
“I admire the great French interior designers; people like Jean-Louis Deniot, Alberto Pinto and Pierre-Yves Rochon”

The Studio is… the premiere design offering at Harrods. We are based in Knightsbridge, London, and we deal with top-tier customers, creating a bespoke Harrods lifestyle around the world.

I got into interior design by accident… My parents are quite traditional and they wanted  me to do what they called a ‘grown-up’ career, so I studied a classic art degree. To stay creative, I did a fashion diploma at night and after my first year, I got an internship with designer John Rocha. While I was working for him, he was setting up an architect and design business. That summer, whenever the architects from his firm needed help, I wanted to be involved. That’s when I realised interiors were my real passion.

My job can be perceived as glamorous… and while certain elements certainly are, I am under a lot of pressure and there are many reality checks involved. I’m often away from loved ones, as I travel all the time, and there are many business and commercial elements that I have to stay on top of, not to mention the fact that I manage a large team.

I meet celebrities all the time… Our service is very exclusive and bespoke, so we don’t have thousands of customers, but the ones we do have are very high-end.

I have worked on more than 50 projects… but the one that was most memorable for me was a super-yacht called The Nero that I worked on for two years. The design was classic, which is not to my personal taste, and because yacht design is so detailed, it was challenging but rewarding.

There are three mega interior trends at the moment… One is the impact that modern travel is having on interior design; the second is the influence luxury hotels have on design, and the third is social media. They are all interconnected and shaping design on a massive scale.

In Dubai I am inspired by…  Al Barari’s luxury villas. I love the eclectic feel of the interiors of the homes and their lush gardens. Europe still has a strong influence on design in this region, but I think it’s only a matter of time before it’s led by regional designers.

My personal style is different to what I design at work… My home is very casual, almost Scandinavian in its simplicity and comfort.

I have always had an obsession with the 1930s… Art deco influenced my early career more than it does now, but I’m still enraptured by the golden era of the early 1930s. I’d love to go back in time and design an amazing art deco building for someone like F Scott Fitzgerald.

I admire the great French interior designers… People like Jean-Louis Deniot, Alberto Pinto and Pierre-Yves Rochon. Then I also love Nicky Haslam and the whimsicality of his interiors. It’s hard to make everything look thrown together when it’s actually completely calculated.

I am obsessed with dining rooms… They’re mostly used at night, so it’s easier to create an evocative space. You can use bold colours and interesting material mixes, like crystal in chandeliers, timber on tables, metal and mirror details and marble on the floor and in fireplaces.

The use of retro shapes by Los Angeles designers… influences my work. Their bold use of colour and eclecticism is so interesting. My design team is also a massive inspiration.