Q&A with Tatiana Howard from Tatiana Tafur
Tatiana Howard founded Tatiana Tafur Ltd in 1993 with her business partner Andrew Tolson. Specialising in the finest bespoke wallcoverings, surfaces and lighting it is a beacon of unrivaled signature style and a sanctuary for the rare and unusual. The originality and exacting standard of their pieces is outstanding. We sat down with Tatiana to hear how growing up in Lima, Peru inspired her love of interiors and what makes the company so unique.
How did you end up in the interior design industry?
Interior Design has always been a passion of mine. I was born in Peru, Lima which was the first city founded by the Spanish in South America. The centre of the city is beautiful and full of grand baroque architecture. Growing up in Lima inspired my interest in the aesthetics of rooms and buildings.
You studied History of Art at Sotheby’s, how do you feel this has helped your career in design?
While at Sotheby’s I was so lucky and privileged to experience having my lectures at the museums and galleries where the most stunning pieces of art were. The course enhanced my knowledge and gave me a great understanding of art and the process of creating art which I feel has helped me in this industry.
You were at The Inchbald School of Design, what key skills did you learn there that you feel have helped get you where you are today?
The teaching at Inchbald was incredibly thorough. At the time, I did the most comprehensive course there was – we studied every stage of interior design including plumbing and heating. We had to work very hard to meet their standards. In those days my English was pretty basic so I had to work doubly hard! Although I don’t practice Interior design as such, I do feel that having this knowledge, it has given me a greater understanding of my clients’ needs and helps me with the furniture design side.
How did Tatiana Tafur start?
Being young and care free has to answer for a lot of things I did in my twenties! I met my business partner Andy socially, when I was nineteen. He was already in the industry and I was still at the Inchbald. We discussed the idea of going in to business together. I remember the ﬁrst meeting with the bank manager who was most concerned with my venture. This did not worry me in the least as I had conﬁdence in the products we had. Tatiana Tafur started with a wonderful collection of Venetian style painted furniture. We went on to take on several collections of fabrics; Volland, Johannes Wellman, Gisbert Rentmeister to name a few. The transition to wallcoverings was progressive – we felt that there was a very over staffed market for textiles and not many wallcoverings available,
Blue Lagoon table made from parchment
What is the design process at Tatiana Tafur, do you and Andy each have separate roles within the company?
Andy is the sales force of the business, his knowledge of the product and relationships with the clients is amazing. I love designing new products, curating pieces from our suppliers’ collections and keeping an eye on our ﬁnances.
Are all of your pieces commission based?
We have been very privileged and have worked on some amazing projects, most of which require bespoke pieces. We have our style and finishes but all of our pieces are made to order from the various collections. We can and often make custom pieces too. The custom-made pieces vary depending on the clients’ needs and taste.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your stunning pieces of furniture?
Trips to Europe visiting our artisans is always a great source of inspiration. We also have a wonderful time developing furniture pieces with our clients. Andy visited two mills in the Philippines last Christmas where he found several new raw materials for us to develop. That sort of thing is always exciting.
Your collection of surfaces are unrivaled, tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your own collection, the brands which you work with and how did you discover them?
The brands we represent are unique in our market. We get approached quite often by brands asking us to represent them. We only choose those brands which we feel fit our brand identity and that are truly special, such as the opportunity to work with Gorman Studios who are our latest addition. Our Abaca and woven metal collections are based on hand crafted natural materials. They have been designed to provide an individual and stylish backdrop to a room.
You source a lot of unique materials from around the world, how does this process work?
The sourcing of materials around the world is great fun. Wherever we go on holiday we are always keeping an open eye for special things. Regardless of whether it is business or pleasure there is always something to discover!
What current trends are you seeing which are popular with your clients?
All of our projects are unique so we don’t do trends. We pride ourselves on being able to work with the client to provide them with something bespoke, which fits their exacting standards as oppose to following a trend. We can pretty much do whatever the client would like.
What is your favourite piece?
I have several but I have just ﬁnished designing a new sideboard in parchment which I am in love with. It is called ‘Because I Can’ and we are launching at the Chelsea Design Quarter Street Party.
What are you most proud of?
Being a part of Tatiana Tafur for over 20 years.
What has been your favourite project that you have worked on?
I’m afraid I can’t possibly choose! We have several lovely customers with amazing projects. Discretion is a major part of my job description.
Finally, whose interior design inspires you the most and if you could live in any house for the day, which one would it be?
I am inspired by several designers and artists alike, one that comes to mind is the late Roger Banks -Pye, his designs are superbly elegant and yet understated. Rather than a house, I would love to live in a Super Yacht.
For further details about Tatiana Tafur please click here.
Because I Can Sideboard