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Brighton Journal | 21st November 2019

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An interview with Amelia Heggie, the interior designer behind The Projects

An interview with Amelia Heggie, the interior designer behind The Projects
Lorraine Bigi
  • On 2nd February 2019

Brighton Journal met with the woman behind the stunning design of The Projects, a one-of-a-kind co-working space in the heart of the Lanes. Amelia Heggie talked to us about the history behind the building, her style and sources of inspiration, as well as her love for Brighton.

First opened in November 2018, The Projects is a modern co-working space located in a beautiful Grade II listed building in the centre of Brighton, only a stone’s throw away from the beach.

Combining modernity with history, The Projects is nothing like a traditional workplace: the different small rooms located over three flors give it a homely feel, where people can work in a social and relaxed environment.

The interview

Let’s start with talking a bit about yourself. What is your background and what got you into interior design?

My mother got me into interior design! I was sent away to boarding school at the age of seven and I was so homesick I tried to make my bedroom look like home.

Then I went to Edinburgh university and did History of Art. It was during that time that I started redoing my friends’ bedrooms and tried to make them look better.

After Edinburgh I realised I didn’t want to work in history of art, so I did a design course and then started working for a pub company, doing up pubs, and I actually loved the commercial side as opposed to the residential side. 

What made you decide to come here and work in Brighton?

I was introduced to Brighton by a friend that I work with and now I have the bug! He lives locally and his office is here, I work with him regularly now.

I love Brighton! It’s such a colourful place. It’s eccentric, unique and quirky!If I could relocate I would but I have teenagers who don’t want to leave their schools!

Amelia’s style and inspiration

What was your main source of inspiration for the Projects?

The Projects started with the theory that it is ongoing, that it is not quite finished. We incorporated a lot of things such as rough plaster, using raw materials and giving it a feeling of being stripped back.

We designed bare interiors that would evolve over time organically as opposed to totally finished in one hit.

The main inspiration came from the building itself, the area and ultimately the people of Brighton.  They need room to stretch their thinking and awaken their passion and I hope the Projects provides this blank canvas!

More generally, what is your source of inspiration when working?

It’s a tricky question! I definitely take into account the area and the history of the location, that’s a big part of the design process. The brief from the client also plays a major part. My style is quite eclectic, it’s a mix and match.

How would you describe your style?

A mix of old and new, of contemporary with vintage pieces to bring a story together. My style favours the non formulaic design, I hate the militant taupe and symmetry. I don’t like trends but like timeless designs!

Would you say your style has evolved over time?

Yes, definitely. I love more simple, contemporary finishes now. My ethos and core values have never changed but you have to adapt to the project and client and this has allowed me to be a more flexible and open minded designer! 

The history behind The Projects

Tell us about the building itself and the various rooms.

We found out about this building as we were working next door about two years ago. It is a Grade II listed building and we wanted to retain these features which you can see next door, in the older part of the building.

The history of the building is pretty interesting. Solicitors used to be here years ago (we’re talking about the 1800s), when Prince Regent used to be here. He employed solicitors here to buy more land for the Royal Pavilion.

Downstairs there’s a lovely room, the library, where the solicitors used to store all their files. The doors look ancient – my boss wanted to paint them but I wanted to keep them the way they are. 

Then there is a bar where I’m hoping we will soon get a licence, and then there’s a sitting room. I love this room! Anyone can come and work here. The vibe of this room is more of a member’s club, it feels homely, so people don’t feel soulless. A lot of co-working spaces feel like this, without any kind of history.

If you’ve noticed a lot of the signage has birds behind. The idea is that when they’re all working together beautiful things happen. So this is the concept behind The Projects, it’s the idea of lots of people working together and creating things.

Future projects

What is your favourite project to date?

The Projects, definitely! There are still things to add to it which will hopefully evolve organically over time, just like art.

What are you up to now? Do you have any plans for the future?

Hopefully we will do another one of these co-working spaces, but for pop ups, this time in Winchester. I am also working on student accommodation in Exeter. 

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