Kirsty Whyte on Soho House
A creative director, designer, consultant and a business owner – Kirsty Whyte is all of these things. She’s the Creative and Product Director at Soho House, working with a team of designers on new furniture and accessories collections, launched every month. They’re inspired by the portfolio of the company’s ‘Houses’ – from the rural Babington House to the recently opened media-mecca – the White City House. Within her role, Kirsty is also responsible for the ‘sink-appeal’ of Cowshed, with the more mature branding revealed in the next few weeks. Being multi-talented and hard-working, she also runs what she refers to as a ‘side-hustle’ – a minimal watch brand Freedom to Exist.
Like many creatives, she remembers herself as ‘always making’. Kirsty recalls spending her childhood working on some fun boat and plane projects in the garden with her father, who was an engineer by trade and a boat builder by profession.
Fast-forward a few years and Kirsty was developing her creativity at the Nottingham Trent University, studying Decorative Arts, with a specialism in glass design. As her university projects quickly garnered international attention, her career started to charge forward with roles at Habitat and Made.com. In the meantime, she also set up her own design studio, licensing products to brands such as Heal’s and Normann Copenhagen. Throughout our conversation, Kirsty offers valuable advice on the pros and cons of working for yourself as a designer or being part of an in-house team.
That brings our conversation to her latest role at Soho Home – Soho House’s retail arm. Together with her team, Kirsty is in charge of contemporary furniture and accessories collections, which launch every month. The new products are often designed as the new Houses open – inspired by their unique locations and history. And whilst Soho Home started as a members-only service, now the brand’s main portion of sales comes from non-members, in line with the growing trend of bringing the boutique hotel look home.
As our conversation moves away from discussing Kirsty’s ambitious and varied career, I discover that her entrepreneurial spirit led her to launch her own brand - Freedom To Exist. Its beautiful minimalist watches are coveted across the globe and for Kirsty, the business is yet another way of letting her creative juices flow. And I feel that she is the epitome of the notion that if you want something done, a busy person is the one who'll deliver.
Kirsty is also very kind and has a special promotion for the On Design listeners – use ONDESIGN discount code and save 25% off your Freedom To Exist purchase.
Music by James Green