Design Insider is so privileged to have the opportunity to speak with leading creatives within the commercial interiors industry. Continuing in our Career Profile series, we had the pleasure of speaking with Ellie Beasley, Interior Designer at interior design consultancy, SpaceInvader. Discover how Ellie made her way to become an Interior Designer, key projects that shaped her career and some great advice for your own career in design.
Please could you introduce yourself and SpaceInvader?
Hello, my name’s Ellie Beasley and I’m an Interior Designer at SpaceInvader, an established creative design firm based in Manchester, who work on an array of amazing interiors projects across varying sectors, from workplace and hospitality to residential developments. I particularly focus on the agency’s hospitality-based projects, which range from bars and restaurants to international hotels, as this really suits my strengths as a designer.
When did you discover that you had a passion for design?
I’ve always been very creative. Right from a young age I would ask for the children’s kits to build mini model houses from miniature bricks and cement! In terms of a passion for the design industry, I was in my teens at college when I realised I could use my creativity in a practical career.
What is your educational background?
My education after school began by studying psychology at college, which I loved. However, after swiftly realising that my passions were pulling me more towards a creative path, I was fortunate enough to study Art & Design at Cleveland College of Art and Design where I developed a personal portfolio to obtain my unconditional offer to study the Interior Design BA(Hons) degree at Northumbria University.
What was your first step onto the career ladder? What did you learn from this role?
I jumped on the career ladder after being selected through university to attend and display my final major project at the Truman Brewery Free Range Graduate Art and Design show in London, which represented a great opportunity to meet designers currently in the industry. I then started off as an Interior Design graduate in my first job in the retail sector, learning about and understanding how retail environments are designed. This gave me a great insight into how different sectors of the industry can vary in terms of creative processes.
How did your career progress?
My career really progressed when I joined SpaceInvader three years ago, getting stuck into some really great design work under the guidance of my mentor and the wider team and really beginning to understand how to balance beautiful design concepts and the real world of sites and the technical and ergonomic aspects of design.
What were your highlights during this period?
One real highlight for me was being part of the design team working on the Accor Tribe Hotel in Malta. This is an amazing project, where we delved deep in the initial concept work, which was richly linked to Maltese culture as well as the site’s location, next to the island’s airport. This led to our ‘Zoetrope’ concept, which was about designing an interior scheme that captures movement in a fixed space by playing on contrasts of light and dark.
It was amazing to work alongside the Accor team to develop one of their Tribe projects and to really understand their brand, weaving in their key values, style and key offerings, whilst also working with the wider team and architects to deliver an outstanding design scheme rich in Maltese culture. The nine-storey hotel provided great design opportunities via a vast ground floor, hosting the bar, lounge, and F&B, plus a co-working mezzanine. A particularly amazing area to design was the rooftop bar, terrace, and pool deck with key views over the airport runways. We can’t wait till to see the final, finished project!
Name any key projects you’ve worked on and why were they so important to you and your career path?
Working on the Grade II-listed Wildes Hotel in Chester was also an amazing opportunity. I’m really fascinated by historic architecture and particularly the way in which we once constructed these beautiful history buildings, as well as understanding how they can be regenerated to serve a brand new purpose in the modern day. This project has really been fulfilling and I can’t wait to carry this one through to actuality too. It will be a great accomplishment in my career!
In contrast to this historical site, another key project for me is Chorlton House, a private residential scheme. I loved this project. It’s been really great focusing in on what the client requires from their space on both a functional and aesthetic level. Looking into how they use their current space as a family and how we could adapt it to suit them better has been greatly satisfying. Not only this, but from a design point of view, being let loose to create something beautiful alongside clients who really wanted to push the look and feel to capture a real luxury hospitality feel was really special.
Another project to highlight is our recent works at Spindles Market Place. We’ve developed this scheme with Oldham Council as part of their regeneration programme for the Spindles Town Square Shopping Centre. I worked with a great team of designers on this project to redevelop the various areas incorporated in this design. A key focus area was the market stalls themselves and we looked deeply into how markets are developing to suit modern shopping culture and designed stalls to reflect this, alongside being practical, functional and, most importantly, future-proof.
One great thing about my work is the opportunity to design schemes across varied sectors but also to see how you can then translate these skills across other projects, especially with sector styles becoming purposely blurred in contemporary design. Many workplace schemes are now desirous of a more hospitality feel, for example. Alderley Park, Block 11, was a project where I was really able to achieve this. This was an office project with various settings, from a main workspace to breakout zones, communal kitchen and meeting rooms. It was great to get into this design, understanding the constraints that come with designing a workplace environment and the requirements needed to make it highly functional whilst also layering in softer elements to ensure a well-rounded scheme.
What core skills have you developed?
I’d say that all of my core skills in design have developed over the three years, from taking initial design concepts through to visualisation, working collaboratively within the design team and problem-solving. I have progressed my understanding of working on live projects and of adapting designs within building and budget constraints – as well of course as managing clients!
Why did you decide to join SpaceInvader?
Initially, one main factor that led me to joining SpaceInvader was its location in Manchester. Through growing up in my teen years in the North East of England, the North remains like home to me. Together with many friends and family also living in and around Manchester, this amazing creative city was a real draw to me. SpaceInvader itself is a great company too, of course – neither too big or small, and with a great team ethic, as well as a culture that offers designers real freedom to develop their own personal design skills. It’s a great studio environment full of like-minded people and it really felt like a great place for me to develop.
Do you have a design ethos?
I would say that you have to keep an open mind and always think about the people using the space you’re designing. You really have to get into the idea of picturing yourself in the space – not only how it looks but how it feels and also how it works on a practical level. I believe spaces can have a great impact on our emotions and wellbeing. The chance to influence this for the better is a great privilege.
What advice would you give to younger designers beginning their profession?
Above all, not to give up, but also how important it is to trust your gut and your own opinion. The design industry is always open to interpretation, but as long as you back yourself up with strategic thinking, you will go far. I would also say to trust the process itself, because you may not start where you want to be but you will get where you want to go with the right amount of determination and attitude.
What are your plans for the future?
My future plans are to keep doing what I’m doing and to trust in the future to take me where I want to go. I am in a really great place and it’s a joy to continue developing as a designer. You’re constantly growing, adapting and problem-solving. It’s going to be exciting to see how the industry develops and to be a part of that.