“Everybody knows that this strange moment in time will pass,” says Vicky Charles. She is, of course, musing on the events of the past year, and whether or not they will have a long-lasting effect on interior design. “No one’s making radical changes so their interiors are more sanitised, or putting in extra sinks anywhere,” she adds. “Nobody’s doing hand-washing stations. That hysteria is over.”
What she has always been interested in, and, she believes, more people are appreciating, is what she calls “the longevity of home”. “There’s more of a sense now of thoughtfulness in design, and how you use your space,” she says. “There’s also a real push for less clutter, to make room for the more purposeful things. The whole world has been made to slow down and think. We didn’t have to consider things before in the way we’re being made to now.”
Slowing down must be an alien concept for Charles, 45. Having started out at Soho House in the late 1990s, she rose to become the group’s design director, overseeing Soho Farmhouse in the Cotswolds, The Ned in London and Ludlow House in New York, among others, before leaving in 2016 after 20 years with the group. Educated in Gloucestershire and Exeter, she has been living in New York since she moved there in 2002 to open the first US Soho House; she lives with her husband and their two children, aged 11 and nine, between their home in the city and a weekend retreat in Upstate New York.
She set up Charles & Co in 2016 with Julia Corden, 41, after the pair were introduced by Soho House CEO Nick Jones. London-born Corden, whose background is in TV production, talent management and PR, had taken time off to have children (she and her husband, actor and TV host James, now have three, aged nine, six and three), and handles the business side of Charles & Co. Her role, she says, is “to allow Vicky to be as creative as possible”.