Today we're doing something a little different. We're getting up close & personal with Francesca, the founder & designer at Design by Helium to learn a little more about the woman behind the brand & what it's really like to be a kitchen designer.
What made you choose kitchen design as a career?
I actually didn't. I originally set out for a career as an interior designer. On my hunt for work experience, I was lucky enough to be given a part time admin job at a local kitchen showroom. Part time turned into full time & they saw some flair in me & trained me up as a designer. I've never looked back. I'm really grateful for the time & efforts they spent training me because I can confidently say I have my dream job.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I couldn't possibly choose just one. I absolutely love the design aspect, that is my true passion & I love to take people's ideas & run with them to create something that is unique & personal to their home & lifestyle.
Meeting people is also a great part of my job. I love getting out & about meeting clients; I meet so many wonderful people & get to learn about their lives & families along the way.
Now that I work independently, my projects don't have to be a certain style or finish to adhere to company branding. Every single one of my clients has their own vision for their home, weather it's a simple modest kitchen or something completely outrageous. I love that every project is different & that I get to be a part of re-designing people's homes. Some of my favourite briefs from 2018 included (in the words of my clients) Art Deco Luxury, mad men retro, bold with scandi hints & a New York loft. I can't wait to see what 2019 brings!
Is there anything you hate about your job?
Absolutely not. My job can certainly be challenging at times but there is nothing that I hate about it. I wouldn't trade it for any other job in the world...apart from maybe professional chocolate taster.
What is the driving force behind Helium, what does the brand stand for?
Unique, personalised kitchens that are affordable. I want my clients to have access to beautiful, creatively designed kitchens; & I want to design beautiful extravagant spaces. Sometimes the high street stores can lack that certain something & if you're looking for something that is one of a kind, you may have to spend £40/50,000 plus to get it custom made from a luxury showroom; which is isn't always attainable.
Describe a typical day?
Every day is different for me, which is another thing I love about my job. Generally I'll start my working day by answering emails & having a quick catch up on the Helium social media. The rest of my day really depends what's happening on site; but it's generally organised into site visits/surveys & deliveries, client or supplier meetings & working on admin & designs. Sometimes my working day can finish at 3pm, in which case I'll squeeze in a gym workout & visit to my nieces & nephews after school. Other days it might finish at 10pm, it's the beauty of having such a varied job.
What is your main source of inspiration when you design?
I get inspiration from everywhere. My Pinterest boards are full of inspo (for both me & my clients) I also draw a lot of inspiration from international interior companies, design & build publications, Instagram & a bunch of other places too. I'm always on the look out for interesting textures, materials & products.
What does your dream kitchen look like?
I get asked this all the time & I really couldn't say. There are so many beautiful products out there & unfortunately I'm aware of all of them, so I feel like I have way too much choice to pick from. I'd probably need to hire a kitchen designer! The problem is, I love super sleek modern kitchens, but painted shakers & more traditional styles also hold a place in my heart too. I think it would all come down to the property that I was renovating. A couple of things I can tell you for sure that I would have...
A Quooker tap
A built in steam oven
I love texture too, so some sort of wood grain or custom door no doubt.
I guess if I treat myself like a client & check out my personal Pinterest board, the last 3 pins on there dictate that I'll have a bright white, minimal, sunny Australian kitchen. However... there are also black kitchens & softly coloured kitchens on the same board so maybe this is just my flavour of the moment. (I can totally understand why my clients find this so difficult!)
Metallics are huge right now, what's your favourite metal?
What do you do when you're not designing kitchens?
Nothing too extravagant, My day to day job can be quite demanding on the brain so anything that helps me unwind I'm a huge fan of family time. I spend a lot of time with my family, I have 2 sisters & a lovely bunch of little nieces & nephews & we tend to hang out a lot with my mum at the evenings & weekends. As I spend at a lot of time at my desk or in the car daily; so I also like to get out in the fresh air when I can. Day trips & walks to the country or the beach are the best. I also love to practice yoga too, it's a great way to switch off from work; & I'm a huge advocate for a cosy night in with a movie.
Favourite place in the world?
Italy - I couldn't choose an exact city, I just love everything about it. The history, the food, the people, the language (which I'm learning) & as I'm of Italian decent I love to learn about & be where my family is from. New York also holds a bit of a soft spot in my heart too. After living there in 2017 it's always nice to go back (without having to do the daily commute.)
Last book you read?
I just recently finished Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet - the last time I read it was when I was studying the language in school. As a fully grown adult now (who chose to read it) it was much more enjoyable this time around.
Last movie you watched?
The first wives club! I am a sucker for 80's/90's movies.
Best piece of advice you've ever been given?
"It is what it is" - I say this to myself (& friends) all the time. When things aren't going your way, worry & stress don't help anyone or the situation; it is what it is, so just deal with it & keep going.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Do you want to connect with other people who are undertaking kitchen projects too? Head over to the THE KITCHEN DESIGN GROUP on Facebook for ideas, inspiration, discussions, reviews & also tips & advice on renovating/building your dream kitchen. Anyone can join & get involved so be sure to add friends & family who may be interested too!