Senior Interior Designer James Coates

Thoughts from the inside 13th July 2015

For the latest I-AM newsletter, we spoke to senior interior designer James Coates about what inspires him, as well as his alternative career as a fisherman.

What inspires you (with your interior designer hat on)?

I’m not just inspired by any one thing; I’m inspired by everything. I take influence from post modernism and art installations through to hand crafted objects to kitsch and neon.

What first attracted you to interior design?

After studying a degree in product and furniture design I was naturally led to interior design as it involves everything I’m passionate about – both 3D and 2D.

How long have you worked as an interior designer?

I’ve managed to get over the 10-year hurdle.

How has the role of an interior designer changed in the time you’ve been in the industry?

It’s definitely more about the experiential design today, there is so much more influence from all areas of design opposed to a focus on JUST a space, which, arguably, there was before.

What currently inspires you? 

Wow, so many things it’s hard to answer! Anything really – from food, eating out, Maltby Street, Milan furniture Fayre, Serpentine Summer Pavilion and antique fayres. 

How does the work you do at I-AM add value to brands?

We think about the bigger picture, the experience the customer will have and what they take away from that.

Which brands do you admire for the way they design?

Again, so many, but if I had to name them, the top ones that come to mind are Rapha, Soho House Group, Goodhood, HAY, Merci, Supreme, MAST Brothers and Berners Tavern.

Interiors that you would use as a benchmark?

Definitely the Soho House Group and Dishroom.

What was your best/most rewarding project for I-AM?

It has to be the stylish, self-service Ethos vegetarian restaurant and Chilango, which has such an exciting aesthetic and has evolved so successfully.

How do you approach a new project?

Fundamentally, it has to be a focus on exactly what the client needs followed up by plenty of research.

How important is interior design to brand creation?

Put simply: it works together. You can’t have one without the other. 

If you weren’t an interior designer, what would you be?

It might sound odd, but I’d quite like to be a fisherman or a craftsman. Maybe a fishing craftsman?

Describe your favourite city in the world and why?

London, because it is the best city in the world… and Leicester because the football team is so good.

You also like music and clothing, what are your favourite brands/bands and why?

Converse, Our Legacy, Comme Des Garcon, Norse Projects, Uniqlo. I like these because of the materials they use and the understated simplicity. Music-wise, it depends on my mood…from Jon Coltrane to Kurt Cobain.

Do you collect anything? Why?

Nancy’s Dummies (my daughter). I have a collection in my pockets and bags. Aside from this, Bitossi ceramics.