Interview: Hatch’s Design Director, Jenna Butler talks being ahead of the curve, nailing a brief and how the customer always comes first...
For Jenna, art and design is not just a job, but a fundamental part of life. Before taking up the position as Hatch’s Design Director, her artistry and eye for detail led her to become a designer at one of the leading agencies for retail and experiential design, Dalziel & Pow. Here, she created award-winning concepts for the likes of Primark and Jigsaw and worked with renowned global brands such as Lululemon and Diageo. While her most recent roles focus on the three-dimensional aspect of art and curating spaces, Jenna grew up sketching, crafting and experimenting with interior environments before completing a degree in Interior Architecture. Little did she know, her childhood passions would lay the foundations for a career filled with impressive achievements including winning retail store of the year for Primark Madrid (and its colossal 12,000 sqm space) and having projects published in Power Shop 5, the prestigious book exploring retail design and interiors. We sit down with the Design Director to discuss embarking on a new journey, flexing her commercial experience in the property sector and how customer insight can shape the perfect home…
Your experience in the world of retail is extensive to say the least. How can the design techniques used in-store be harnessed to create beautiful home spaces?
There are so many areas of cross over. In retail, we work strategically with brands and collaborate with clients to bring their vision to life and translate it into a physical space. We can work alongside developers and investors in the same way by taking a deeper look into the behaviors of our buyers and their mindsets when looking for a property. With this considered approach and by putting ourselves in our buyer’s shoes, we can design interiors that both look fantastic, and give return on investment by fulfilling the requirements of the end user.
It’s really important when designing any space to continually go back to the brief and the client’s needs. It’s good to try and design something with meaning and relevance, whilst challenging design conventions and pushing boundaries where appropriate. For property, understanding how the planning of the space works and how the end user will live in it is crucial. An eye for colour, texture, furniture, and interior styling is also key, pulling together the design language and making sure these elements work in harmony to create a cohesive design. Retail design is so much more than bricks and mortar stores - It’s all about creating an immersive brand experience across all channels. The way consumers interact with brands has completely changed, so using that experience and knowledge from commercial and bringing that into the property world is very exciting. This year, we have volted five years forward in digital adaption, consumers are more mindful and will be wanting much more from their living spaces.
Your approach to design is clearly client and customer-first. How can you see these techniques working for Hatch and Inko clients specifically?
It all comes down to innovation and having the ability to be flexible in your approach. Having the pleasure of working with some of the sectors best, not only across retail but also in hospitality, events, workplace and exhibitions I’ve gained a comprehensive understanding of how multiple areas of design can complement one another and how these can all be relevant for property. From considering consumer attitudes and selling strategies to our approach to the creative process, a broader understanding of the needs of different sectors in both the commercial and property worlds can be applied to all of our projects. Behind every property is a brand after all.
Consumer insight should be at the forefront of every design practice. At Hatch/Inko we immerse ourselves into the mindsets of our buyers so that we can design to their needs. Putting the customers into a broad demographic category such as ‘Gen X’ is simply not enough. It doesn’t give us the depth needed to design a fabulous interior scheme that truly ticks all the boxes, both statistically and practically. Consumer attitudes are continually shifting, and I believe at Hatch we stay ahead of the curve by understanding the need for innovative experiences and creative ways of enhancing our lives.
There’s a vast array of interior designers in the market – from amateur Instagrammers to designers with their own celebrity status – what do you think is important when choosing a designer for a corporate project?
For a corporate project we want to first and foremost ensure we are inspiring our buyers and creating interiors that our clients will love. The creative community is full of all different types of designers, each with their own approach, but at Hatch we really care about the customer and their needs. Ultimately, our aim is to create spaces that people are proud to live in. Our team of extremely talented interior designers go a long way to stay ahead of trends and are always expanding their design knowledge. Trend forecast webinars have been a go-to for inspiration since we have been unable to get out and about as we normally would, due to the pandemic. It’s not necessarily about a big name, but about answering the brief and creating solutions for the design problems. At Hatch and Inko, we are proud not to have a house style, as each of our clients want something innovative and new - which we strive to give them.
Speaking of style, what design trends are you loving right now?
I am in love with all the curved silhouettes. Chairs that mimic the human form, enveloping out and twisting back and sofas that you just want to cocoon into. This trend really works for me and I think speaks to a lot of people right now, because it’s the antidote to the extremely tough year we’ve all had. The curvilinear structures, lozenged edges and glamorous 1970’s forms bring a gentle calmness and gracefulness to our lives, they are one off sculpture-like pieces. For me it's a breath of fresh air from angular shapes and hard lines.
Hatch covers both the design of schemes but also the creation of unique new furniture lines, how does this speak to you as a creative?
As a furniture fanatic, there is nothing more exciting. I have been lucky enough to be invited to the Vitra Campus in Bazel more than once. A highlight for me was the Schaudepot building designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron. It hosts part of the collection of the Vitra Design Museum, which has 7,000 pieces of furniture, over 1,000 lighting objects, and numerous archives, as well as the estates of several famous designers. The superb permanent collection full of design classics is a must-see. We are looking forward to sharing some fantastic new product launches at Hatch and Inko this year inspired by design classics.