After graduating from Falmouth University with a degree in textile design, Nina Bailey was scouted for her first job at the New Designers exhibition in London to work for a prestigious flooring manufacturer in the Midlands, designing printed and tufted flooring products. Here, Nina – now the UK Design Manager at Formica Group – talks to us about her interior journey.
Please talk us through your career journey
Relocating to London after graduation, I continued as a design consultant in the flooring industry. I worked closely with interior designers and architects, creating floorplans, bespoke flooring solutions and products.
Moving to Formica Group felt like a natural progression, given my expertise in designing surfacing materials. I started as UK Design Manager. My role entails directing the design of our UK product ranges, alongside tracking and forecasting trends for product and business development purposes.
What inspired you to work in design?
I have always been creative, and for me, design is extremely fulfilling. Growing up, I was close friends with Architect John Pardey’s daughter, and was introduced to his work and continue to admire it still. I used to feel incredibly excited visiting or seeing images of the buildings he had designed around the world.
This gave me a spark to embark on a career where you work towards creating a physical piece of design. I knew that I wanted to follow a similar path
in this industry and create physical objects.
What has been your greatest source of inspiration throughout your career?
I discovered the work of Bauhaus Designer, Anni Albers, whilst studying textiles. I found her work particularly inspirational, and I still look to her designs and approaches for inspiration now. She was one of the most important influences on me while at university. Always bold and experimental, she was really ahead of her time, really pushing the boundaries in the early 20th-century male-dominated environment.
How do you approach your projects?
I approach each project with an open mind. Key to my role is the ability to translate trends and themes into final, well-thought-out projects.
Who is your favourite interior designer and why?
I really appreciate the work of Philippe Starck. His design ethos is quite unconventional, placing a greater emphasis on the end product being highly functioning before being beautiful. In design, it’s quite easy to get lost in pure aesthetics. Despite this focus, Starck’s work is memorable and iconic. He has been tackling the need for sustainability seriously for years.
Would you say that you have a design style?
My style is very adaptable. We design for all sectors at Formica, so my work is varied and involves applying different styles for different needs.
My personal preference is for simplicity, accented with a mix of eclectic patterns. For example, in terms of interiors, I love a pared-back, subtle look combined with statement colours and pieces to add character.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge for today’s interior designers?
Finding the right materials in the right finishes and colours can be challenging. For interior designers, one of the first stages of a project is usually creating a carefully considered colour palette. Not being able to find suitable hues and tones can be so frustrating.
This is why we offer an extensive range of colours, finishes and material looks. We want to support designers and give them as much creative freedom as possible.
What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
Getting to where I am today. I take each day as it comes while striving to accomplish something great every day.
Do you have a preferred colour palette you enjoy working with?
I love earthy colours and palettes for their meditative qualities. I’m always drawn towards blues, greens, oranges and yellows. Whether soothing tones or energetic, highly pigmented colours, they are all linked to nature. They are also adaptable and suited to almost any environment.
What advice would you offer to those that are considering a career in design?
A career in design is one of the best decisions I ever made, but it has its challenges. You should be prepared not always to be working with what you love the most, and you need to be open-minded to other people’s opinions.
Remember that design is subjective, and we all have our own likes and dislikes. Therefore, you should never be afraid to speak your mind; however, equally, you shouldn’t be offended if someone questions your ideas. Take criticism and direction in your stride, and you can achieve great things.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge for newly qualified designers?
When you finish your degree and start your first design job, you’ll realise that you can’t just create what you feel like anymore. It can be difficult to transition into that headspace where you design for a specific market or customer. However, once you do, it’s great. It’s really rewarding work and can open your eyes to new ideas you might not have considered before.
What can we expect to see from Formica Group over the next year?
We have several exciting launches this year. For example, we have refreshed our Axiom and Prima UK worktop ranges. I have introduced an array of fresh, new on-trend colours and designs into the collections, alongside different abstract material looks to give the ranges a sophisticated update.