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Erik KarlsenInterior designer Erik Karlsen first made his name in design as the founder of Jane Churchill Ltd, the fabric and wallpaper brand, which is now a part of Colefax and Fowler.

Originally from South Africa, Erik moved to the UK aged 20 to attend Hornsey Art School. In 1989 he started Jane Churchill, a fabric and wallpaper company in collaboration with two friends: fabric designer Robert Adamson and interior decorator Jane Churchill. As the market at the time seemed to be overtly couture in nature, Erik decided to name the company Jane Churchill Ltd in order to position the company, alongside Laura Ashley, as accessible to all and have a wider market appeal. Over the next few years he, and his team, opened a string of shops in London, Bath, Cambridge, St Albans and Nottingham, as well as selling through outlets throughout the world. In 1999 the company was sold to Colefax and Fowler.

Following the sale of Jane Churchill Ltd, Erik focussed on interior design, undertaking design projects in the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Corfu, Monaco and the USA.

Although client confidentiality dictates that Erik is unable to name names there are a number of his projects of particular note:

In Austria he undertook a design project restoring the interior of a small castle in the middle of Salzburg, which is lived in by one family and which has great historic interest.

In Corfu Erik was involved in the design of a delightful house by the sea and was able to draw upon his South African upbringing which gave him a crucial insight into furnishing and decorating for the coastal climate.

The Monaco project was particularly interesting as Erik had helped the owner move in the past and was responsible for integrating the furniture into each property.Erik Karlsen Improvising the use of existing furniture in each setting rather than starting from scratch and buying everything again.

In the UK he has undertaken many country house restoration and refurbishments which are shown in more detail in his portfolio.

One particular project of note was the library at Markenfield Hall in Yorkshire in 2008. As a result Markenfield Hall was the first recipient of the Sotheby’s/Historic Houses Association Restoration Award. This annual award recognises ‘the finest restoration of a historic house in Britain in a way which respects and is in sympathy with the age and quality of the building’. The award was made for the transformation of the Great Hall, which lies at the heart of the house, from a derelict medieval grain store to family library and drawing room.

Two years ago Erik was part of a team responsible for planning and restoring a house in Oxfordshire. Of particular note was his idea to transform a music room into a kitchen. He designed a freestanding contemporary kitchen to be installed into the centre of the period panelled room which benefitted from outstanding views across the garden and lake.

Over a number of years Erik has worked with the owner of Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire, his contribution included the creation of a new bathroom within a panelled room and helping to curate the house by reorganising the furniture in order to make the spaces work better.

When he is not travelling Erik divides his time between London and North Essex.


Original Cushion Company