Nina Campbell is one of the country’s most respected and influential interior designers, with a roll call of clients that includes the rich, the famous and the royal. Beginning her design career at the age of 19, Nina worked as an assistant to John Fowler at Colefax and Fowler. She soon became known for her unmistakeably rich and elegant colour palette, which caught the eye of club owner Mark Birley, who asked her to redecorate his famous Annabel’s private members’ club. They joined forces once again in 1970, when they opened Campbell & Birley, a shop in London specialising in ‘unashamed luxury’. It was here that Nina introduced her signature hearts design, a motif that is still available today on a range of bone china.
In 1972 Nina set up her own business, Nina Campbell Ltd, where one of her first commissions was to decorate the monumental Cullen House in Banffshire, Scotland. Twelve years later Nina opened a shop and design studio in London’s Knightsbridge, where she continued with fabric printing but expanded her business into a broader decorative arena, designing everything from matchboxes to bespoke furniture. In 1990 Nina launched the first of what was to become her annual fabric, wallpaper and trimming collections, internationally distributed by Osborne & Little. All her collections are made in Britain as far as possible, from furniture to fabrics and wallpaper.
The interior design side of Nina’s business continued to flourish alongside these new ventures, with notable high-profile projects including the Hotel Parc Victor Hugo in Paris, the Groucho Club in London and the Campbell Apartment Bar at New York’s Grand Central Station, alongside private residences all over the world (some of which can be seen in Giles Kime’s monograph, Nina Campbell Interior Decoration: Elegance and Ease, published last year).
Recent residential projects include a chalet in Gstaad, a palazzo in Rome and a clapboard family house in Maine, complete with separate pool house, bowling alley and glamorous party pad with violet-lacquered walls and a silver ceiling. Whether traditional or contemporary, Nina’s practical approach to projects starts with asking clients key questions about their lifestyle, such as how they will use the space and how many people they entertain. This ensures that rooms not only look comfortable and welcoming but function properly too.
This spring Nina is launching a collection of indoor-outdoor fabrics with Summit Furniture. The high performance endurance textiles include patterns inspired by nature and colourways evocative of organic elements such as minerals and gemstones. She is also celebrating the tenth anniversary of American painted furniture makers Oomph, with a new collection of upholstery. Both can be seen at her second destination London showroom in Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, which has recently been rearranged into room sets. ‘The idea is that visitors can sit on a sofa in the living room or climb onto a bed to really feel what a room might be like,’ she concludes.