Thoughts on Design ft. Monika Swindells

ZUZU invited architect and interior designer Monika Swindells to share her thoughts on all things design. Monika is the Director of Interior Design at award-winning Liverpool-based architectural and design practice KKA.

We are becoming increasingly aware of our interior environment and the importance of this inner space on our everyday living and being.

Interior Design is not simply how we decorate our space, it’s not just about surface beauty, it needs to be functional and versatile too. Interior Architecture is immersive - it affects every facet of how we experience a space with all our senses.

So, spaces become more intelligent, tactile and innovative, and in developing more sophisticated internal living environments we must develop in tandem a greater awareness and emphasis on sustainability and social consciousness.

The design of a great inner space is a multifaceted journey. Today more than ever our rooms for living, working and relaxing have stopped being simply ‘dressed up boxes’ - we are now questioning the importance of how we perceive a space, the essence of a space and its purpose…moreover its purpose over time – hours, days, years.

We are experiencing an age where a paradigm shift in thinking has occurred, where there is now real appreciation for the substance and root of an ‘idea’ and we welcome this with open arms. We seek to embrace and fully exploit this thinking; our methodology is deeply rooted in the notion of creative narrative and tailor-made design - for we believe that every place we inhabit is unique.


Every project has a story behind it that is shaped by the ‘eclectic voice’ of all involved in the process. We listen to these ‘voices’ – they are the essence of our ideas. Understanding what this message is and what our vision needs to communicate is fundamental to the creation of a consistent and unique design language – especially when that place needs to that standout in an increasingly overcrowded and saturated visual world. Design can be a strong voice in our image-driven culture and it’s important to make sure the message out there is not misunderstood, that its representative of the true ambition, purpose and concept of its designation.


The world is chaotic and ever-accelerating. Peoples approach to work and life has changed significantly over recent years. Balance and wellbeing have never been more valuable to us. We are currently exploring this important subject from a sociological point of view with Oxford Brookes University.

Students at Oxford Brookes university seek to explore the importance of design in context of making people feel secure, providing a phycological environment in which they can open-up and realise their full potential. This can be achieved through the development of highly conceptual internal spaces which allow for social interaction to occur naturally, or intentionally, on a variety of social levels and intimacies. Space to stimulate our mind and soul or places to recharge and disconnect are needed now more than ever.


BOHO (the same team behind ZUZU) as a brand is driven to by a desire / a mantra to create new communities and social networks, where places are designed to attract free thinkers with an adventurous soul.

KKA Interiors aligned their vision for Scotway House to this brand mantra and provided bespoke living solutions for now and for the future where the vibrant spirit of the student is mirrored in the design philosophy for the internal spaces.

The institutional hierarchy and traditional boundaries have been disbanded for adaptable and transitional spaces and elements that allow free-flowing interaction throughout the space -encouraging inhabitants to make connections and start conversations, to adapt the space to the scale of the social happening from the collective to the intimate.

It's crucial to us that we respond to needs, not trends.

Initial studies for BOHO explores connection points within the scheme – generators for interaction, collaboration and moments of reflection, all in a spirit of a healthy and thriving community.

Image Credit: Infinite 3D


The Construction Industry is responsible for 39% of global carbon emissions. As designers, we are always pushing and challenging ourselves to create spaces which are ‘green’ and sustainable. Not just materially sustainable but in terms of their longevity too. We must question every facet throughout the life cycle delivering solutions with longevity and purpose, which are easy to maintain and manufacture, consciously sourcing materials and products which help to bring about greater awareness and benefits from sustainable design to the ‘owner’ and the ‘user’. Surface decoration and installation must be considered in unity with energy consumption and waste management throughout the life of the space. DO BETTER NOT MORE – by challenging our thinking we are constantly sharpening our vision and stripping it down to the essence!

Image Credit: Mix Collective. Collaboration with Mix Interiors to deliver 'Recharge' - a pop up experience. We took the challenge to design a hotel bedroom with a sustainability goal at heart. All specified materials have green credentials being either 100% recyclable/ recycled or locally sourced. To learn more about the project go here.


Above all we must COLLABORATE. Every project benefit from the combined creativity and experience of those minds around the table. Collaborations bringing fresh perspective and new opportunities and give depth to the design. Collective thinking and shared learning are crucial for us and it’s a multifaceted experience. The real challenge is to know when and who. Interior Architecture, and more over its successful realisation and inhabitation, relies on a team of people, designers, end-users, manufacturers, installers even cleaners.
Our mantra therefore is JUST ASK – there are hundreds of people out there with more knowledge than us and we thrive on sharing and learning in this combined pool of creativity. A simple, but powerful, example is the Boho project where we collaborated with Vescom, drew on their knowledge and experience, to develop a range of bespoke wallcoverings designed exclusively for the brand that picked up on Boho’s vibrant identity and pushed dynamics of the projects to next level.

Image Credit: Infinite 3D

Collaboration is not just the sharing of ideas but the questioning of ideas. We are all products of our influences and practices, we need to be inspired by ways of thinking rather than repeating – we must continually challenge accepted experience to be truly creative.

-Monika Swindells 

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