In an exclusive interview, Kelly Hoppen, who styled the homes of Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and the Beckhams, gives us an insight on how she designs a space using her first stint in Kuala Lumpur, for KSK Land's YOO8 Residence Tower B at 8 Conlay, as a reference point.

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Tell us about yourself, Kelly.

As a child, my parents would take me to their friends’ homes for social visits. I would meet with people like artists, poets and chefs. The way they used their homes to communicate their passions struck a chord with me. I started developing an interest in visiting apartment showrooms, imagining and dreaming of how people lived their lives behind four walls and a door. Today, four decades after I began my business, I still bounce out of bed every day wanting to design.

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What drew you to design for YOO and work with John Hitchcox from YOO?

Kelly Hoppen Interiors rarely does collaborations but we did for YOO because of the similar values we share. John and I have known each other a long time. He’s the business mind of YOO, while his co-founder Philippe (Starck) drives the creative side of things.

On a personal note, I like working with John because he is incredibly selfless. He understands how we work as creatives and gives us room to create. There’s an established trust between us. Plus, he is passionate about the concept of building ‘vertical villages’ through projects like 8 Conlay—and it is something I feel connected to as well. 

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What attracted you to work on designing the second tower for YOO8 by 8 Conlay?

Today, I am blessed to be in a position where I can choose the projects that I want to be involved in. I have not worked in KL before, so I jumped at the chance to do so. Plus, I liked the idea of 8 Conlay. When I met KSK Land’s managing director Joanne Kua and her team, I got a sense that this partnership could work well together. When we all sat around the table to talk, I knew we were on the same wavelength.

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Can you share how do you conceptualise a space?

When I design a space, I take time to visualise the lifestyle around it: sleeping, waking up, watching television, and so on. What I do after this lifestyle mapping is try to add more details to what I visualise. After 41 years, I have been successful because I know all these little elements will make people go, ‘Wow!’

For example, I don’t just imagine a wooden floor—I’ll also think about how it feels when I touch it. The texture and sensorial details add up. For a home buyer who has never experienced these before, these things are big moments.

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Your book on an East-meets-West design philosophy was a big hit over 20 years ago. Have your thoughts on this evolved throughout the years?

When I first came up with East Meets West, for me, it was all about bringing the east to the west. It was recently that I had an ‘aha!’ moment. While I was at Singapore’s Changi airport after a work trip, two women approached me and asked for my autograph. They talked excitedly about how I brought ‘West-meets-East’ to them and that was when the light bulb turned on for me, about what my philosophy means on a broader scale. I never thought of it like that. It can work both ways, east can meet west and vice versa! It was incredibly rude of me to think that this style of design was a one-way street.

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What is your favourite part of a home?

I love the bathroom because it is a space in the house that is truly private. You can go in there, lock the door, have a bath and relax away from prying eyes. I love bathing rituals and I am inspired by them. The idea of luxury living is to have a beautiful bathroom in your home—one that is regal and completely yours. 

ICYMI: See all the photos from the launch of 8 Conlay’s Tower B designed by Kelly