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Meet Our People: Claire McKinlay, Graduate Interior Designer

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By Debbie Kyrkili – 25th August 2022

Claire McKinlay joined Corstorphine & Wright in 2022 and is based in our Glasgow studio. As a recent Graduate, Claire has fantastic insight into current trends in the industry and is perfectly placed to work on our scheme with Abertay University, understanding what the modern student is drawn to and translating that into physical learning and relaxation spaces. She shared with us her journey, current schemes and what inspires her work.

“For me, the best thing about design is that it can be used as a tool to influence people’s positive emotional responses to spaces. Whether it is clear to them or not, interiors hold value in the stories they capture and create – what a dull world it would be if everywhere looked the same!

I started my interior design journey after applying to Edinburgh Napier University, where I studied BDes (Hons) Interior and Spatial Design for 4 years. Upon graduation I landed the position as a Trainee Designer for an interior and kitchen specialist. Having spent a year with the company and gained some insight into the operations of a business, I then moved on to become a Graduate Interior Designer at Corstorphine & Wright.

From a young age I loved the creative process of designing and making things. Taking something generic and turning it into something that’s totally different really excites me. I have always held a keen interest in spaces, architecture, and interior design; however, it was during my time at university that I knew that I wanted to peruse my career in the commercial sector after working on a project which involved transforming a co-working office from empty shell. I realised I quite liked the puzzle of commercial design and figuring out how to make a layout work efficiently yet comfortably.

I am currently working on an exciting project with Abertay University in Dundee. The focus is primarily on the Old College building to provide interior upgrades and social spaces including branding and way-finding improvements.

A mixture of quiet 1:1 rooms, individual rooms for teams calls, spaces for academics to record lectures and reflective / breakout areas have been designed to provide flexible learning environments. These create a diverse and inclusive environment for both staff and students. An important factor was the response to neurodiverse behaviours whilst also taking into consideration the heritage of the building.

My favourite part of a project is developing the concept. It’s rewarding to see what you’ve helped design being built. Learning about the intricacies of a successful project is an exciting part of the process, something you don’t fully get to experience at university.

I aim to create attractive and thought-provoking spaces to bring people together which aids the interaction and understanding of a space. As a graduate designer, we are taught about the importance of creating designs that provide practicality for its users. The ergonomics of a space is essential, and a space is only as visually interesting as it is functionally able, which is a strategy I continue to apply to my designs.

My inspiration and ideas for projects continuously adapt so I try not to limit myself to a singular approach or concept. I enjoy the freedom design gives you to spark conversations with people, exploring various walks of life different to that of your own and making it a little better than before.”

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