Laura Hammett has grown her eponymous business into a thriving luxury design studio in just a few short years. She talks about making the jump from retail to design with Jacky Parker

Retail may be in a state of flux but as we all know, the London property market is booming and someone who has seen both sides is founder of luxury interior design studio Laura Hammett. Specialising in high-end homes with beautiful bespoke finishes, Laura has seen a huge surge in the projects the company has been commissioned to design. ‘Our clients have become much more international, says Laura. ‘We now work 50-50 with developers and private clients, and the projects have become significantly bigger in the last year.’

A trained interior architect, Laura’s talent was spotted early on, when she was snapped up within two weeks of graduating from Brighton University in 2001 by high-end interior design agency, Godrich. ‘It was amazing exposure and I worked on some fantastic projects from the start,’ says Laura.

A few years later Laura landed an exciting stint with style maven and designer Suzy Hoodless but despite loving what she was doing, the young designer was itching to spread her wings and find her own niche within the design industry. Opting for a new direction, in 2007 Laura set up an online boutique Echo Interiors, where she curated luxury homewares hand-crafted by emerging designer-makers from across the world, such as Reynoldsware ceramics and Johnstons of Elgin cashmere, who she still works with today. ‘It was great to try something new,’ says Laura. ‘It gave me a good understanding of craftsmanship and luxury design too.’

Business was going well so Laura followed up with a shop of the same name in Brook Green. Popular among the local customers, she soon built up a regular clientele who admired her taste. ‘Lots of people said they loved the style of the shop,’ says Laura. ‘Then they started asking if I could help with the design of their sitting room or bedroom so things very quickly evolved and I started working on small design projects.’

The Resident: Laura Hammett with her husband AaronLaura Hammett with her husband Aaron

With Laura’s training and background, word of her beautiful schemes spread in the affluent local community and the projects swiftly grew in size and stature. By the end of the year, Laura had taken on staff and her shop had morphed into a busy interior design studio. ‘By then, it was the start of the downturn,’ says Laura. ‘Retail was slowing down while the design side of the business was taking off. It was a natural progression and very exciting.’

By 2011 the business had grown so quickly, Laura’s husband Aaron left his successful career in product design – working for a global design company, designing for brands such as Coca Cola, Puma and other huge multinationals – to join his wife and set up Laura Hammett Ltd. ‘I’d been working with a local developer who wanted me to take on more projects,’ says Laura. ‘Aaron’s skills in product design are broad and he had already been helping me with the business for a while, so it was an easy transition and a huge asset.’

The Resident: The dining area in the exquisite living room at Hans CrescentThe dining area in the exquisite living room at Hans Crescent

Now there is a team of nine, working across up to eight projects at a time. From large-scale luxury apartment blocks for developers to family homes, Laura and Aaron remain hands-on throughout the design process. ‘We work in a collaborative way with our team but a lot of our vision goes into the designs,’ says Laura. ‘We spend a lot of time with our clients, to understand how they live. It’s not just about aesthetics. We like to know where they spend their time as a family, how often they entertain etc. A couple can often have conflicting ideas about what they want, so we will work with them to reach an agreeable solution.’

Laura describes the style at Laura Hammett as classic contemporary, with a focus on bespoke pieces and exquisite finishes. ‘Whether we’re designing from scratch or working with a furniture maker to tweak an existing design, it’s important to us that it’s something that’s not been seen before,’ explains Laura. ‘We use simple forms and traditional joinery but we have an amazing library of unusual veneers that have been dyed or cut in a beautiful way so that they’re textured. We also use inlays and parchment. Those details and finishes, make a piece feel extra special.’

The Resident: The master bathroom at Wilton StreetThe master bathroom at Wilton Street

It’s a look that’s tasteful and elegant, so it’s not surprising that many of Laura Hammett’s international clients are inspired by luxury hotels. ‘They travel a lot so they want that luxurious feel when they return home too,’ says Laura. ‘Particularly with bathrooms: we’re seeing people move away from the stark modern look. There’s a big trend towards warmth and glamour with cabinetry, chandeliers, curtains and artwork, so the bathroom feels like a room you’d want to relax and spend time in.’

Next on the agenda is a development of thirty-nine townhouses for the Berkeley Group, a 6,000 sq ft Grade II listed townhouse in prime central London with a spa and gym, plus overseas projects. ‘We never really know what will come up next and we love that every house and every client is so different,’ says Laura. ‘Last year was phenomenal so we’re looking forward to the year ahead.’