10 Minutes with KWD’s Director – Kate Walker

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With a family of Interior Designers and successful Ceramic Tile Merchants, it is any wonder that Kate Walker entered the world of design, with her primary focus being the supply of stone and tiles, and later, carpet, timber flooring, joinery and stonemasonry.  Having worked in the family business, National Tiles, Kate comes to the industry with over 15 years’ experience.

Now, through her own business Kate Walker Design (KWD) situated in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula, Kate and her talented team specialise in key markets, residential and commercial projects, securing long-term specifications for multi-national corporations, cost-sensitive developments, and also very high end residential projects. KWD specialises in the specification, sourcing and supplying of tiles, stone, timber, carpet, joinery and stonemasonry and other hard finishes.  Kate’s love of design has seen her work on some amazing projects, with very talented interior designers, architects, builders and developers, contractors and estate agents.

Here is an insight into Kate’s world at KWD…

Where or how do you get your inspiration for design projects? Funnily enough, design ideas can come from anywhere.  Importers and Agents I work with are continually updating me with the latest products and trends which is one way I stay inspired.  However, I also seek out ideas from a multitude of other sources – the internet, books, magazines, friends and family, and the environment. Those who know me say I also have a natural design ability and flair so perhaps a lot of ideas simply come from within.

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What’s your creative process when designing a space? The most important step in specifying, sourcing and supplying for my clients is listening to their requirements. Obtaining a detailed brief is paramount. This applies to all projects, whether they are private homes, residential and commercial developments, landscaping projects or multinational contracts. It’s never about what I personally like, it’s about the clients tastes, budget and time frames. The answers to key questions put to clients leads me to specifying material that is not only beautiful, but fit for function, is within a set budget and is delivered in full and on time.

What’s your favourite design project you’ve completed to date? Obviously it’s difficult to select one project when I am lucky enough to work on so many exciting jobs. I would have to say that it is usually the client relationship, rather than the material specified, or the scale of the project that excites me the most.

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I had the pleasure in working with the late Stuart Rattle on a stunning Toorak development.  The project meant a lot to me personally, as the site on which it was built was once my family home. The project consisted of several very high end apartments and penthouses. I worked closely with the Developer, the interior designer and the builder.

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We selected stunning cross-cut honed and filled silver travertine from Turkey. We imported the stone tiles in 800×400 format, and matching slabs for the vanities. The kitchens had stunning Statuaretto honed marble, where the marble block was personally selected by the developers prior to it being cut into slabs. Externally, we specified sawn bluestone in an 800×400 format.

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The end result was breathtaking. The best part of the project was seeing it be a success for the developer (100% sold), plus it resulted in a new iconic building being built in the hub of Toorak Village. Sadly, with the tragic death of the interior designer, Stuart Rattle, it will be remembered as one of his stunning final projects.

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What new design trend are you excited to integrate into your next project? The industry is abuzz with so many fantastic new and exciting products, from encaustic concrete tiles, to gorgeous european oak engineered timber flooring. I absolutely love the large format stone that is being imported in the grey tones, and utilising it not in just the traditional format (being as a floor tile), but rather, as feature cladding, landscaping material, and bench tops. I look forward to specifying these into some of our projects over the coming months.

What’s the craziest client request you’ve had? And did you manage to fulfill it?  I had a request from a client, who was building a very eco-friendly, organic home, for tiles that look like grass! And can you believe it, I found them!! They were imported especially for the project from Spain. The artist who created the tiles for me, Dominic Crinson, is a mastermind when it comes to bespoke patterns. He created the image, and digitally imposed the image on the tiles. The result was sublime. The tiles truly looked like the bathroom floor was grass!

What’s one tip you wish someone had told you when first starting out in the design world? Take appropriate shoes onsite! I’ve ruined several good pairs of heels by walking onto construction and building sites to speak with builders and developers. I now own a very practical (AND attractive!) pair of patent leather gumboots that live in the back of my car just in case! So now I’m prepared for anything that my daily job throws at me.

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What’s your dream design project? Who or where would it be for? Selfishly, my dream project would be my own “forever” home! I have it all planned out in my head, right down to the last tap and door handle! One day soon I hope to make it a reality. My project will have the functionality required for a family home, the design savvy features that make life so much easier, and a whole dollop of romance thrown it, to create a loving environment for my children and I to enjoy and savour.

What are you doing when you are not designing interiors? I must admit I do tend to live and breathe KWD! It’s not just work for me, it’s a passion I have had since I was a young girl. However, I am blessed with two divine young children so together we tackle adventures and have loads of fun in our home neighbourhood of Mt Martha. Over summer, you’ll find us at the beach almost every weekend, in winter, on the ski-fields of Mt Buller, and other times walking the dog, collecting pinecones, sitting by the outdoor fire toasting Marshmallows and enjoying the local coffee shops.

Should you spend money on a fabulous bathroom or kitchen? Our culture sees most Australian households gravitating around the family kitchen. Open plan is also very popular which means a kitchen is often highly visible. So, if money needs to be prioritised, I think a kitchen should come before a bathroom. That being said, there are so many options today to get an amazing look in both of these areas without breaking the budget. This is where Kate Walker Design is so helpful to our clients – we find material at amazing rates, and help the clients save money, whilst still achieving their dream look.

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Great view or perfect pool? This is tricky, and obviously a pool and a great view is the ultimate. However, coming from a large family I can remember the endless hours we spent in the family pool. You can’t really place a value on the happy memories we created. Thus, I would have to say perfect pool over great view. With the right stone around the coping, and stunning glass mosaics, you can have a luxurious oasis in your backyard, no matter what your outlook or address is.

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Where to for KWD in 2015? 2015 is going to be another huge year for us. I have gathered a fantastic team around me so we can forge ahead with a bigger workload and still maintain the level of service of which my clients have become well accustomed. We are very excited to have just launched our website, http://www.katewalkerdesign.com.au earlier this year which represents the essence of KWD and what our clients are to expect when dealing with our team. The opportunities in our pipeline currently will see KWD specifying, sourcing and supplying material in some amazing commercial, retail, multi-density and medium density residential projects, as well as some multi-national projects.  Social media has also become a very important aspect of the KWD experience, so make sure you are following us on Instagram (@katewalker_design) and liking us on Facebook (Kate Walker Design).  Here, you will get a daily update on all that we are doing at KWD, and most importantly, what inspires us!

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          Contact:

Website:  www.katewalkerdesign.com.au

Blog:  www.katewalkerstoneandtiledesign.com

Facebook:  Kate Walker Design

Instagram: @katewalker_design

LinkedIn:  Kate Walker

E: kate@katewalkerdesign.com.au

P: 0422 425 523

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KWD has grown from a team of two in 2013 to a dynamic group of ten professionals who all contribute to the successful consultancy we have created. Growing up in a family with a mother as an Interior Designer and a father as a successful Ceramic Tile Merchant, it's no wonder I entered the world of design. At Kate Walker Design (KWD), our primary focus is to specify, source and supply stone, tiles and all other hard finishes into projects across Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula, but also interstate and internationally. We embrace a consultative approach and develop lasting relationships with each and every client. It’s what the KWD team knows and loves. “Design is not a thing we do. It’s our way of life.” Kate Walker

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