We meet Paul Langston, formerly of the music industry, now an interior designer of some repute
Were you always a creative child?
I was quite arty as a kid and loved drawing and painting from a young age. I got more into what they categorised as “Art, Design & Technology” around the age of 11 or 12. I think this was the point where I began to form an appreciation for the more technical side of design – and this really stuck with me. I used to love building camps as a kid – any kind of HQ for my mates and I to hang out in. I grew up in the countryside, so these dens were formulated in trees, hay bales, cow sheds! Looking back now, I can see how this was me showing my first real interest in planning spaces – something I love to still do now, obviously.
Before launching your own business, what experiences do you think shaped who you are as a designer?
Prior to becoming an interior designer, I spent 17 years working in the music industry in sales and marketing. During the latter part of this career, I worked on promotional launches for brands and record companies, which included preparing and dressing venues. I loved this aspect of the job and thought it might be an area I would like to pursue, outside of music.
I also ran two club nights – in Birmingham in the mid 90s and North London in the mid 00s – which again involved interior decoration of venues with wall art and sculptures. These experiences also gave me a good introduction to lighting technology and techniques. Lighting design has become one of my main offerings as a designer.
What inspired you to launch Paul Langston Interiors, when was this and what did you want to offer?
Working in the music industry was fun, but ultimately unfulfilling. I loved the product, but as time went on and the industry evolved, my role became less about music and more about website traffic numbers and advertising revenue from digital platforms. In 2008, at the age of 36, I had the opportunity to review my life and consider a completely new career path. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who was already well established as a successful interior designer. I went to him for advice and he said “go for it!”. I took his recommendation to study interior design at the KLC School Of Design in Chelsea and qualified in September 2009. If any of your readers are considering a career in interior design, I would strongly suggest looking into studying at KLC: a great school with fantastically talented teachers. It was an incredibly tough year, but also hugely enjoyable and rewarding.
Have you evolved in any way since launching?
The areas of greatest evolution for me have been the increasing focus and growth on lighting design and cabinetry design. These are both major passions of mine and are in themselves separate sciences that have required a lot of study to understand. As trends, principles, processes and technologies change around us, this keeps us in a constant state of evolution, as we continue to develop and improve these services. There is always a lot to learn, which is one of my favourite aspects about interior design. Also, every project is different, so one is always dealing with a completely new scope.
Would you say you have a design style?
As a design student, my style was incredibly minimal. Very masculine, lots of hard surfaces, uber-contemporary, hard lines and virtually no colour. This has softened and developed over time into what I would describe as clean-lined, contemporary, architectural luxe, with occasional pops of rich colour and structural statements. I like to establish a foundation of warm neutral tones and then add a splash of more adventurous accent in colour, furniture and/or cabinetry.
How do you like to approach a new project?
I always prefer to start the process with space planning and layouts. Before any decisions are made regarding furniture or decorative fittings, it’s really important to first understand and agree the structural layout and physical purpose of each room. Once we know how a space is going to be used, we then add in requirements for lighting and other electrics, plus a general arrangement for furniture. Once these important base elements have been agreed, the requirements for furniture, lighting and other decorative fittings becomes much clearer and easier to source and specify.
What elements of a project do you love the most?
I am without doubt a very technical, spatial designer. I love the process of space planning, ensuring optimum use of all rooms for practical yet comfortable living or working.
Lighting design is also a big feature in my work. I’ve designed several bespoke chandeliers, including a timber-framed modern industrial fitting, featuring 12 oversized globe pendants for a residential apartment building atrium in Wapping.
I also design a lot of furniture, including kitchens, beds, wardrobes, desks, media units, drinks cabinets. This is a real passion of mine and of course each piece is different, according to the space it is going into, the materials chosen and specific requirements of the client. I am very lucky to have an excellent cabinet maker. We have been working together for many years now and we both understand how to best communicate the design requirements to each other, which makes the process quicker and smoother, resulting in the best quality product for the client.
How long have you been based in Loughton and why is it perfect for you?
I’ve been here for 22 years – I can’t believe where the time has gone! I run my business from home and that suits me well, especially as many of our clients are now fairly close by. In recent years, we have been working hard to establish relationships with local clients and suppliers. This has really paid off for us, so I am anticipating working more and more on projects in and around the Essex area. Current commissions include projects in Loughton itself, Buckhurst Hill, Woodford and Brentwood. It is easy to get into London from here (we also currently have projects in Hampstead and Albert Embankment), but also well connected with other parts of the South East. The M25 is only 5 minutes’ drive away, but you wouldn’t know it, as we are surround by Epping Forest. If work gets a bit much, I can hop on my bike and take a ride through the forest to clear my head…
What’s next for you?
I’m focusing on growing our specialist services – spatial planning, bespoke furniture design and lighting design – whilst continuing to offer a full range of design services, including decorative scheme packages and the specification, sourcing and supply of furniture and decorative lighting. In this current climate it isn’t always easy to predict what will happen next but I’m confident we now have a great team around us to continue to grow and move forward.