Kate St James is a well respected voice on the Australian interiors scene. A Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia, she worked as an interior designer for more than two decades before joining the world of design publishing. She is currently editor ofLuxury Home Design and Renovate and the soon to be launched Grand Designs Australia magazine.
After 20 years as an interior designer, Kate now finds editing interiors mags the dream job. “I am constantly exposed to all the amazing projects and products, people and events and I love having the opportunity to promote the profession as well as educate readers about the industry. I am blessed to be doing what I love!”
Kate agrees with Interiors Addict’s philosophy that anyone can have a stylish home on any budget. “Even the most humble home can be designed to ensure correct orientation and well-designed spaces that enhance the lives of the occupants. It’s not necessary to spend a fortune to employ an interior decorator or designer and it all depends upon how far you want to go.
“One idea is to obtain an overall plan for your interior and build upon it over time. Better to buy higher quality pieces that have longevity and value than to buy cheaper items that are poorly made and will not last.”
But if you can afford to employ a designer, it’s important to respect their talents. “They are trained professionals like any other including your doctor, dentist or accountant and deserve to be paid for their ideas, knowledge and expertise. They can help you turn a house into a home that you will enjoy every day.”
Kate, who recently treated herself to a Philippe Starck Bonze stool, is rightly proud of being made a Fellow of the Design Institute of Australia (DIA). “It was one of the highlights of my career and I value the many friendships I have made within the DIA since I joined 26 years ago.” She encourages every designer and decorator to take up membership. “It is the only body that represents the industry at a professional level and indicates your status as a professionally qualified, ethical designer. It also provides support, mentoring, networking, friendship and professional advice and information.”
It has, in her opinion, become a little too easy for anyone to call themselves an interior designer. “There is a difference between saying you are an interior stylist to being an interior decorator to being an interior designer. Many well known decorators and stylists have never undertaken a professional course and are creating great work; there’s no substitute for experience. There are of course professional styling and decorating courses too. I do however think it’s too easy for people to call themselves designers as designers are trained to a much higher level and are qualified to undertake more complex work. I believe that to call oneself an interior designer one should be registered, as architects must be to use the appellation “architect.” This is not only good for consumers but also for the profession and the industry.”
The Australian interior design industry just gets better and better though, according to Kate. “We are fortunate to have many talented designers; interior, architectural, furniture, textile and more. We live in such a small world now that Australians travel so much and are therefore exposed to so many cultures all providing inspiration. Of course our own natural environment provides wonderful inspiration for designers and we are a lucky country indeed to have such an environment.
“Our mostly wonderful climate provides opportunities to live outside more than many countries and Australian designers have really embraced outdoor living creating inspiring outdoor rooms to extend our living space. Design is a dynamic industry and as long as Australia continues to innovate, I feel it is in good hands.”