Celebrating International Women’s Day: #InspireInclusion Through Conversations with Inspirational Women in Commercial Interiors – Tina Norden

This International Women’s Day, Design Insider is proud to embrace the 2024 campaign theme: #InspireInclusion. We are delighted to present a series of interviews with some of the most inspirational women in the commercial interiors community—each playing a pivotal role in shaping the industry.

Inclusion is a pathway to innovation, creativity, and empowerment. When we inspire inclusion, we not only celebrate diversity but also harness the rich perspectives and ideas that drive our industry forward. This year, we’re highlighting the voices of Inspirational Women who aren’t just participating in the commercial interiors sector but are actively shaping its future to be more inclusive, vibrant, and dynamic.

Tina Norden, Principal at Conran and Partners, is one of our Inspirational Women. In our conversation, we delve into how Tina interprets #InspireInclusion within the context of her work and the broader commercial interiors sector. We explore her personal experiences, the success stories that have marked her journey, and the collective strides we can make toward a more inclusive industry. Moreover, we discover the women who have inspired her and how she, in turn, serves as a beacon of inspiration for others.

Join us as we celebrate Tina’s achievements, insights, and stories, and let’s continue to #InspireInclusion every day in every way.

Tina Norden, Principal at Conran and Partners

Please could you introduce yourself and your role?

Within a team of five principals at Conran and Partners, I am one of two of us responsible for interior design. The principals lead the practice on creative direction, practice management and business development. I also oversee our team in Hong Kong alongside our head of studio there. Whilst I work (mostly) on the interiors side, I am a qualified architect – but interiors have turned out to be my passion.

The best part of my job is working with the team on the creative side, developing ideas and finding the best solutions for our projects. One of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects is liaising with our clients and collaborators. My other career option was becoming a diplomat, which is very much part of my job description now. My love of travel was another reason for diplomacy; however it turned out there is just as much travel working for an international design studio!

How do you interpret #inspireinclusion and what needs to happen to achieve this within the commercial interiors sector?

Inclusion should not even be a question but we as humans seem to love creating walls around us and the groups we think we belong to. We should give everyone equal importance and access, no matter what age, gender or origin and more, which sadly is not always the case. Women, and those identifying as such, are 50% of the population so making sure they are at all tables is a massive step in the right direction in striving for inclusivity in the sector.

Inclusion is about empathy, respect, giving people a voice, and inspiring them to be their best Judging from my own experience, inspiration and great ideas come from the most unexpected sources, so giving everyone a voice is hugely beneficial for all involved. The best way to inspire inclusion is to lead by example and actually doing it ourselves in all aspects of our working lives.

Are there any success stories of inclusion you would like to highlight?

One of the best things about the design industry is the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life and from all around the globe. At Conran and Partners, we work with both corporate and private clients, consultants from other disciplines as well as contractors on site – which is a pretty decent cross section of society (even if not always equal in terms of number of females!).

Our international work exposes us to our peers all across the globe. It is fascinating how different countries and cultures approach work, interpersonal relationships and communication. There is no better way to learn inclusion and understanding than actually working with people from all sorts of different backgrounds, whether professionally, culturally or politically. Being made to feel welcome and heard while offering the same to all others is the best way to foster inclusion. From a design perspective, you have to incorporate diverse design styles from different cultures to create inclusive and welcoming spaces.

What does it feel like to be inspired by, and inspire, people around you?

Inspiration is fundamental to creation, outside of one-in-a-million geniuses we cannot function in a vacuum. There is nothing more exhilarating than seeing or hearing something new, insightful, thoughtful or just simply amazing to trigger creative thinking – or more generally thinking about the world and how we see it. That applies in particular to anything that challenges our beliefs and assumptions, and nudges us to think in a different way.
Being inspiring in my view is not something one can set out to be, it is a result of our behaviour and actions. But I believe that being true to oneself, respect others and sharing our experience, thoughts and opinions will hopefully inspire others around us.

Which inspirational women do you celebrate?

There are so many incredible, inspiring women that making a choice is hard. And sadly, there is also a long history of females being overlooked in favour of their male colleagues – thankfully this is changing rapidly!
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has to be up there with my heroes. She is an incredibly compassionate and intelligent woman who fought against gender discrimination in the US Supreme Court, an extremely male-dominated environment. Ginsburg followed her path against adversity and absolutely broke the mould in her field.

On the design side, architecture had few female role models whilst I was studying – the one that stood out was Zaha Hadid, also my external examiner. She forged an uncompromising path with her design vision and stood up to her detractors.

I am grateful that, throughout my career to date, I have encountered amazing women who have supported and inspired me from colleagues and bosses to clients – and my amazing mother who is the strongest person I know!

Thank you for reading this conversation. Discover more empowering stories from Inspirational Women in commercial interiors by clicking HERE to continue our #InspireInclusion series.

Join us in celebrating and learning from these influential voices!


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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