10 Aug Carden Cunietti: An Interview with Eleanora Cunietti
Carden Cunietti is a London, U.K., design firm that focuses mostly (but not exclusively) on residential design. I have loved their work for years. I accidentally fell into their shop many years ago on Westbourne Park Road in London; I didn’t know much about them, but I occasionally purchased items there for my own clients or for gifts. I still have a beautiful Italian glass salad bowl and side dishes from them that is an oval shape with a white pearlized finish. Sadly, the store is gone, but their practice continues to thrive.
Their designs are modern, clean, eclectic, and fresh, with some colourful touches. It doesn’t have that overly studied and overdesigned feel that designers’ work sometimes falls into. Clearly their work is not only for the fabulously wealthy, which is refreshing, and their work is considerate of the fact that real people have to live in these spaces.
During my recent visit to London, I had the opportunity to have a talk with one of the firm’s principals, Eleanora Cunietti. Eleanora is warm, talkative and very forthcoming person. Working with partner Audrey Carden, she focuses primarily on running the business side of the practice, but each of the partners has their own clients, and she works on the creative side as well with her own clients. Carden Cunietti has 12 designers on staff.
Eleanora is Canadian-born and -trained – she graduated from my alma mater, OCAD – but left Canada right after graduation to work in Europe. She still has strong personal ties in Canada, though; her parents and sister live here, where her mother and stepfather own two Homefront stores in Toronto. During the course of her career, she has worked all over the world. Right now, she is doing projects in France, Israel, and Poland, to name a few.
How would you describe your work?
It’s a lot about personality and relationships, which creates our design direction. I don’t think we stick strongly to any particular look. In some cases, you can tell who has designed a space, but I don’t think this is overtly the case in our work. That said, I think that what does typify our work is that it is colourful and decorative.
Who is the ideal client?
One that pays his/her bills without delay or dispute! Seriously, there are two types of clients: ones that offer creative projects and ones that offer financial benefit. We need both. But, to elaborate, trust is absolutely key; once the relationship is established and you got to know the client, this trust leads to allowing the designer to make decisions, and speed up the project and ultimately reduce the time projects can take. Trust makes a huge difference. Also, a client who works with you; who helps edit your suggestions; and who doesn’t keep changing her/his mind!
If you had an opportunity to tell clients what knowledge or attitude they should bring to an interior design project, what would it be?
There are practical things like bringing images and magazines showing what they like. But we have methods that help clients establish a brief: we have them fill in a questionnaire, and when the project is a large one, we start by presenting a concept and suggestions for one room, to see their reaction. If after three tries on this one area are done, if we can’t get agreement with the client, then we may tell the client that we may not be the right designers for them.
Whom do you particularly admire? Who inspires you?
Although I do read magazines, I don’t really remember who may have done the work; I actually don’t get to see many other designers’ work. But I do find inspiration from the supply side. I do go to Paris and Milan to see the shows; there is fantastic inspiration to be found in that end of things.
There are several companies that inspire me continually: the Italian furniture company Promemoria; Sommerville and Scott, a British furniture maker/manufacturer; Fromental, a wallcovering design house, to name just a few. [None are readily available in Canada, unfortunately.]