In Studio With Kerry Hughes

Kerry Hughes is a London-based model maker and set designer who isn’t afraid of experimenting with colour, lighting, shapes and space. With clients including Adidas, Channel 4, Elle, Hugo Boss, Matches Fashion, Liberty of London and SomethingAboutMAGAZINE – she created the individual logos for each section – Kerry is definitely in demand. Despite her manic diary we managed to get a few minutes with her to take some snaps and ask some important and some more irreverent questions…

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What made you want to do set/prop design? 
I originally thought I wanted to be a graphic designer, but whilst studying I realised pretty quickly what I wanted to do was use my hands to create something by applying the rules of design to 3D, tangible objects.

You do quite a few different things – editorial, window displays, video content. What is your favourite?
I enjoy them all for different reasons, my favourite projects would have to be any I can collaborate with people on and learn something new.

What is your favourite material to work with and why? 
I don’t really have a favourite material but I use paper regularly in my work as it is so versatile and accessible, plus it gives you a really beautiful graphic final piece.

Biggest project to date?
The one I have just finished, which is due out soon…

Favourite project to date?
Too hard to say, I’m quite fickle so I change my mind a lot about that kind of thing!

You’ve done some pieces for SomethingAboutMAGAZINE – how did that come about?
A photographer I work with regularly asked me to be involved, I met the lovely team and it kind of just progressed from there really.

How important is it, do you think, for young creatives to have a platform like this?
Platforms like these help a lot, it’s kind of hard to overstate the importance of exposure to a young designer. Establishing a reputation is the main objective when you’re starting out, the sooner you do that, the better and being featured is a huge advantage.

What was your first creative memory?
When I was a kid my sister and I used to be obsessed with making shoes out of paper and walking around in them until they wore out! I guess that’s the creative memory that really sticks with me. As for when I thought this could be my job, I was lucky to grow up in a creative family so I was always aware that I could pursue career in the creative industry.

Favourite artist/set designer/inspirational person?
Jean Paul Goude, Fritz Kahn, Tauba Auerbach, David Hockney. I could go on…

Fashion brand you would most like to work with?
Kenzo, their work is so playful!

Magazine/photographer you’d most like to work with?
Hmm, that’s a really hard question, there are so many!

What gets you through the day?
Coffee and good music.

What makes your day?
Studio dogs!

Your studio seems very ordered, as does your work. But it is also fun and colourful (I love the penguins in bikinis by the way) again like your work. Does your work space need to reflect your work?
Absolutely, it is really important to me that the two cross over, being in the right space to work efficiently and to feel inspired.

Where do you get inspirations from? Do you prefer working towards a brief or coming up you’re your own concepts?
My inspiration can come from anywhere really, friends, family, getting lost on the internet, toys, hardworking & passionate people, books… I’m really lucky to have the opportunity to work on a mixture of both briefs and pitching concepts that help me to keep challenging myself.

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Your pieces are fun and bright and often quite real looking or have an artificial realness about them – Do you think set design and props should have an element of the fantastical/hyper real/artificial about it?
I do often like to use fun and colourful elements, yeah, but if it doesn’t suit the brief, I won’t force it.I think it’s important to recognise that no approach will work in every context, and of course it varies.

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How important is your studio to you, your own space to create? 
Very, I practically live in my studio, often staying later than I probably should!

You share your space. What is that like – does it help?
Definitely, I share with some really talented people from other areas of the creative industry, so it’s always great to have a different perspective on your work and to help each other out when we can.

I loved the brain piece with Aaron Tilley and Gemma Fletcher – how was that to create?
Really fun! Aaron and Gemma are both incredibly talented so it was a pleasure to collaborate with them on a personal project.

Also your Tessa Packard piece looks like a town when viewed as a panorama but all but up close looks more a display piece. Was the intention to creative a little world?
That project was about architectural evolution, each one was inspired by a specific icon of a different architectural style. One of my favourite subjects!

What advice would you offer someone who wants to get into this field? 
Feed your passion and curiosity.






WORDS: Dee Moran


With thanks to Kerry Hughes