Superior Interiors with Kelly Hoppen has just finished its first series on Channel 5.
The program starts by announcing that Kelly Hoppen is on a mission to tackle bad taste in homes all over the world. Transforming inferior interiors as she goes.
On the Channel 5 Program web-page she is described as ‘Britain’s first lady of design’ – another great quote and bold claim. I had never heard of Kelly Hoppen before this series aired but then again I am not a paid up subscriber to Home & Design and the like either so would be none-the-wiser if that was a claim that was wholly realistic or outrageously audacious! Each show also starts with some endorsements of Kelly Hoppen from those of the celebrity firmament – first up is athlete and now Dame, Kelly Holmes – I was then expecting more Kelly endorsements of Kelly such as from Rowland and Clarkson but alas I was disappointed on this score!
She then goes on to say that she wants to show that good design and taste can be achieved with a small budget. I am sure it can. But not on the episode I watched at least where the client featured saw their final bill come close to £35,000 all told – nearly as much as I paid for my own home – I do not have any problem with TV shows about the homes of the rich and famous but let us not have then the ridiculous claim that this was home redesign on a shoestring budget.
The web-page goes on to describe her style has ‘minimalist but opulent’. A Phil Spector of interior design – that I like the sound of!
As well as keeping abreast with the show via the Channel 5 website Kelly Hoppen also has her own blog detailing her thoughts on the five part series and the various interior designs she was commissioned to undertake for each of the episodes. I like this idea. It would have been interesting to have had journal entries for the clients too alongside to compare and contrast!
And then there is the casual matter of all of this commissioning and designing process taking place before television cameras and an audience of at the very worst hundreds of thousands and at best several millions – and that for the client however small or big the viewing figures will be they will almost certainly include your closest friends, work colleagues and your very extended family network. You will want to put on a show even if that should be the last thing on your mind.
And for the designer however well established they are in their professional practice such a series is not just an opportunity for their fifteen minutes plus of celebrity fame but a fantastic way to promote their brand and business and hopefully get at least a second series out of it along the way, if not a string of commissions arising.
And how then might they achieve this? How should Kelly Hoppen play it? Should she play it safe with unobtrusive small c conservative wares. Or instead go for the flamboyant and attention grabbing. As there is always the real risk that they will abandon their client and their wishes altogether in favour of appealing to the wider TV audience. It is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle for Reality Based TV – the very act of observing real people going about their lives is a guarantee that the last thing we will see is real people going about their lives!
Would this be the case with the Drewitt Barlows? This the family whose own Chelmsford home interiors featured in the final episode of this series and which aired Tuesday November 1. The Drewitt Barlows are husband and husband and parents of one daughter and four sons.
Though there are seven of them in their household the interior décor is very much the work of just one of them, the father Barry, whose taste is gaudy or at best flamboyant depending on, well, whether your own taste is flamboyant or gaudy. Put it this way this is a man who likes ornaments, really really really likes ornaments!
Despite saying that Kelly Hoppen has complete free reign to redesign his daughter’s bedroom the father Barry cannot help himself and interfere – sorry intervene – wanting at least some of Saffron’s bedroom to stay as it is, some testament to remain of his own tastes. Kelly Hoppen is focused on what Saffron wants, and will have to ensure that Barry does not get what he wants. And so sets up the episode.
Kelly is ultimately an autocrat not a democrat of design and she will get her way – eventually.
At first Barry is insistent that the redesigned bedroom should include an en-suite bathroom. Kelly Hoppen manages to repel that idea. Then he becomes set on a purple sofa as a centre-piece for his daughter’s bedroom. On seeing this for the first time via a photograph on her laptop she describes it initially as ‘like a pair of lips’ then after a few seconds further reflection ‘as like a woman’s lady parts’! Needless to say this sofa goes the same way as the bathroom.
As indeed all that Kelly Hoppen and Saffron wants comes to fruition and the only concessions to the father’s wishes are to the other father Tony and his more subtle taste.
And so we leave the Drewitt Barlow’s but as the camera’s pan away there is always the suspicion that when they and Kelly Hoppen are long gone that father Barry will be back in his daughter’s bedroom suggesting if not insisting on some of his own design ideas being reapplied. And can we expect his daughter to be as resistant to him as Kelly Hoppen is?!
Were the Channel 5 camera’s and production crew to visit a year from now would we see the design ideas of Kelly Hoppen pervading the rest of their home or discover that father Barry’s taste has re-established itself upon his daughter’s bedroom?! Such is reality TV on and off camera…
In my previous post about this show’s credit sequence I stated that I thought there must be a sweet-spot for an Interior Designer somewhere between Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen and Ann Maurice. Kelly Hoppen is certainly nearer to Bowen than Maurice but not too close. She may well indeed be this interior designer sweet spot.
- Kelly Hoppen has her own TV series, and Gok Wan is back too! (busyellebee.wordpress.com)
- Phone hacking: Kelly Hoppen settles with News of the World publisher (guardian.co.uk)
- Kelly Hoppen: Reinventing Your Home (thepulsemagazine.com)