With the first ten years of her career spent in large Tokyo-based companies, Yoko lived across Asia, Europe and North America. As an avid traveller, she has also visited some of the world most spectacular places. This combination of travel for work and pleasure instilled in Yoko an understanding of the importance of space and environment on everyday life.
Prompted by her move to London and the birth of her first child, Yoko said goodbye to the corporate life to focus on her passion for design. Yoko Kloeden Design was founded in 2015, and Yoko brings a wealth of experience from her business life to manage her projects, keep a tight rein on the budget and liaise with her clients.
Here, we’re delighted to chat to Yoko about her dislike for Disneyland has stood her in good stead, how she loves to collect fridge magnets and why the concept stage of design is the most important.
Is there a signature Yoko Kloeden look? If so, how would you describe it?
Growing up in Japan, I was a child who didn’t like Disneyland. That tells three things about me.
First: Sense of place. It is important to me that what is happening inside the building connects to the world outside. You could do so by bringing nature inside or by using finishes produced locally. If the interior doesn’t have that connection with its surroundings, the space loses its context and sense of place.
Second: Materiality. I prefer to create a space that ages well with its owner and the building rather than the one that looks its best on the first day after builders have left. Authentic natural materials age very well like fine wine and I endeavour to use them wherever possible.
Third: Simplicity. I never considered my style as ‘simple’ until I moved to the UK. I am by no means a minimalist. Quite often, when I try to resolve multiple tasks modern home is required to perform, I reach simple forms and lines. I think this part of sense gets developed at an early age.
In terms of furniture, what design classics standout for you?
The Tulip table by Eero Saarinen! I am waiting for an oval dining table to arrive now.
What would be your top interior design tip for our readers?
Spend as much time as you like at very first stage of collecting images, developing ideas, and dreaming about the finished interior. Designers call this stage ‘Concept Design’. It is critically important to nail down what you really want. The rest will follow.
What does home mean to you?
Home is where my heart is. We moved 8 times in the last 8 years. This includes transcontinental move as well as moving to the next street for our house renovation. I am not too attached to a physical space. My home is where my family is.
What are your three most treasured pieces?
Our antique farmhouse dining table – one morning when I was scrubbing Weetabix off the table after breakfast, I found a graffiti my then-5-year-old left ‘I love Mummy’.
Random tiles collected over travels – I am not a collector as we moved so many times but one thing I cannot purge is assortment of random tiles I have collected in trips to Mexico, Italy, Spain, Turkey etc.
Fridge magnets – travel has been my passion and I decided that we should take home one fridge magnet every time we travel as a family so we always remember where we have been together. It hasn’t been going very well though as I am so picky and often struggle to find beautiful fridge magnets. My husband laughs at me and says there are no such things!
A perfect Sunday is…
Pancakes for breakfast is our Sunday morning ritual. Then we go for a walk or a bike ride along the River Thames. A picnic lunch on the riverbank or in Richmond Park followed by mid-afternoon prosecco for grown-ups and ice cream for the children.
If you could choose one piece from Layer, what would it be and where would it live?
This pair of Sputnik lights over a long kitchen island or a long dining table.