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International Women’s Day: Jiin Kim-Inoue

IN CONVERSATION WITH

Jiin Kim-Inoue joined Finchatton in 2007 as Design Director. Throughout her 15 years at the firm, she has designed period properties, new buildings and superyachts. Her recent projects include Twenty Grosvenor Square, a development with Four Seasons in Mayfair and family houses in Holland Park and Notting Hill. In celebration of International Women’s Day and her 15 years at Finchatton, Jiin reflects on her career and changes in the property industry and design and how these have shaped her personal taste.

How has your personal interior design style evolved over the past 15 years?
Having started my interior design journey in Japan, my personal aesthetics tended to veer toward clean and contemporary lines in neutral colours with a focus on shape and texture rather than colours. My love of colours and embellishments came much later! I feel that over the years, my design has become softer around the edges and more forgiving, not unlike the person I became. If it was more about how I thought a space should be filled and preserved, it is now about how people would interact with the space I am designing and seeing the space evolve into someone’s home. In many ways, I am becoming more humble about the role I play as a designer. I no longer see myself as the creator but more as a facilitator recognising that our living environment must evolve and adapt to changes as we learn to navigate through life.

What are your favourite type of projects to work on?
I love challenges. I get excited by projects that open my eyes to different possibilities and create learning opportunities. I am very lucky to work in an industry where no two projects are ever alike. I also love designing homes for families with real day-to-day problems. It’s like projects within a projects, having multiple clients with a unified vision to creating a space that everyone can be happy on their own but equally, together as a family.

What has been a career highlight at Finchatton?
There have been so many great moments at Finchatton it is impossible to single out one highlight. If I have to choose one defining moment that gave me the confidence to grow, it would have to be Clabon Mews. After Japan, I had contemplated working for an architectural practice specialising in low income housing and schools. I enjoyed all the glamorous projects I was working on at Finchatton but I felt like I was just pretending to be someone I am not. It was during my moment of self-doubt, Andrew and Alex gave me the project on Clabon Mews and allowed me to see that what I wanted to accomplish as an interior designer isn’t mutually exclusive to either low income housing or high-end residential. Luckily, the project was a success and I never looked back.

In the past 15 years, what changes in our client’s tastes and preferences have you noticed?
The biggest thing I noticed is that clients today are definitely more design-savvy than I remember. With social media, exposure to design has never been easier. I also find that clients, nowadays, are more likely to invest in one-off pieces they can cherish for many years to come. Another huge welcoming change is a move toward conscious consumption whether clients are more interested in how materials are sourced and products are made.

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