We speak to Ben Stokes – founder of KAGU in Tenterden – about his opinions on the latest trends, life as an interior designer, and design process

What inspires you?

Everything and anything. I love staying at hotels, drawing inspiration from their hugely talented owners and interior designers.

Do you have any go-to designers when it comes to fabrics?

There are so many fabric companies! To say I have a go-to one I cannot do, BUT there are a few out there at the moment that I love‚ Designs of the time, George Spencer Designs, and Mind the GAP are all favourites.

Where do you source your furniture?

We try to design and make our clients their own bespoke pieces of furniture. For me, that gives each client a 100% designed room and quite often a fantastic talking point. But we are also willing to get up at 4am or 5am in the morning and head off to an antique fair to find unique pieces and we also have furniture suppliers across the UK and Europe.

What trends are you excited about for 2023?

I get this question quite a lot, and to be honest, I don’t know what the next trend is. I don’t particularly look out for trends, I just look for beautiful things in design. I understand that looking for yearly or seasonal trends really works, but to me, when designing a space for a client, I have to think about items that will be on show for many years to come. 

How does your design process begin?

I would say my first place to start with is usually the flooring. Getting the flooring right is key, and I would generally steer my client towards more natural flooring materials – wood, marble, limestone and brick flooring, wool carpets etc.

What is your personal interiors style?

I would not say I have a particular personal style. I work with many different, ranging from grade II listed buildings to modern commercial projects. They’re each so unique, I feel that my design style has to be tailored to the property and not the other way round. You need to find the right style to bring out their beauty instead of enforcing‚ “My Style” onto them.

How did you start out as an interior designer?

After living about ten years away, mainly in London, I came home to Kent and started a small property development company. I was just doing one or two Victorian houses a year, and though over the three years, my business grew, I could feel that my passion was not in property development but in interior architecture and interior design. Many people had commented on the high standard that I had kept while doing up these properties, the beautiful materials I used, and how I had a good eye for this. So, being severely dyslexic and not wanting to return to college, I thought I would open the KAGU shop to lead into an interior design business.

Find out more about Ben and KAGU at kagu-interiors.co.uk

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