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Fiona Reid - the Copperline

20th Aug 2014

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As a determined art student who initially planned to paint, Fiona Reid crossed over to fashion design before eventually moving into journalism to write about interior design and architecture. Years later, this led her to create one of the UK’s most widely viewed design and architecture blogs. Reid traces this change back to an ambitious editor who thought that applying her fashion background to interiors might offer a different take on things. At the time, Reid knew very little about interiors, but she did like the idea of interviewing people about their homes. Realising how we use our living spaces in the same way as the clothes we wear, to reflect something about ourselves, consciously or otherwise, quickly turned into a passion, as she started to see incredible homes and learn more about the people behind them.

Fed on a diet of print journalism – “I love print journalism; I grew up on it” – blogging became increasingly important to her as the urgency and deadlines that can sometimes compromise copy were removed, allowing for greater creative expression and for Reid to ‘find her voice’.

Now a seasoned journalist with not one but two blogs under her belt [Copperline and The Property Files], almost two decades of professional ‘snooping’ have given her viewers a real insight into the way people live and their sense of what’s right for them. Rarely trend-led, Reid says that our homes can make a wider statement about the kind of person we are, what we collect, covet and create in our own environment and therefore the visual medium that we present to the outside world. “Both blogs are an extension of my work, but they enable me to write about a much wider range of projects, and to do so in a more personal style,“ she says.

“My personal style and my love of copper, my ‘solitary stab at colour’, is what inspired the name Copperline and at home suffuses a largely monochrome palette of shades of grey, brown, black and white. That’s me. I don’t wear colour and I don’t live with it. Life is busy enough and I need a calm living space.”

The philosophy of what we do as individuals has driven more in-depth writing about interiors over the past few years, and an understanding of why what appeals to one person may not appeal to another. It makes for interesting reading. Add to this the fact that online we can now see design from every corner of the earth, and design bloggers have their work cut out for them. Reid, however, sees it as a way of connecting with a wider audience. “The Property Files and Copperline started as an evolution of my day job, which is largely UK-based. Writing online has turned from a pastime into a pleasurable side career as my blogs offer a way to share great architecture and interiors from anywhere and everywhere.

“Before I launched Copperline I spent a year editing the material I had and bookmarking and gathering new information and images. I also looked at what other people were doing and how they do it. I still do this and now follow more than a hundred photo blogs on Tumblr alone! There are so many fantastic UK bloggers. I’m a big fan of The Lifestyle Editor. This was one of the first blogs I discovered when I joined Tumblr, and I instantly loved the maturity of the writing and the clear knowledge and passion behind it. I love blogs that feature eclectic interiors, and The Design Files remains a firm favourite. I’m also inspired by the sheer diversity and crisp, sassy writing on Yellowtrace, and Remash on Tumblr for the inspiring architecture.”

With so much to see and so much shared online, where does she think design will go next, what will the next big trend be? “I don’t think there are trends per se,” she says. “It’s all about a collective of people sharing the same idea of what’s great. There is definitely a growing awareness of issues of sustainability, and how this is reflected in materials and the footprint we create. Of course, architects are already embracing this, that’s obvious, but people – all of us – need to see this approach as the norm in so many facets of our lives. That way, sustainable design doesn’t become an issue, it becomes part of normal life.”

Encouraging us to look at projects that have a profound connection to their setting, Reid cites architects Fearon Hay and their Island Retreat on Waiheke Island, New Zealand, as a prime example. “This is one of my favourite houses. It’s dramatic and interesting and adds value to its local environment. I could easily see Storm Cottage, another of their projects, working as beautifully on parts of the Scottish coastline as it does in New Zealand.”

Fearon Hay is a classic example of how the internet has given us an insight into the world of designers and architects overseas. The New Zealand-based firm has a growing fan base in the UK alongside Melbourne-based Wolveridge Architects and Olson Kundig Architects, based in Seattle. All three are firm favourites with the Copperline. “Australia is a country that always inspires with its offering of brilliant architects, designers, bloggers and magazines such as Inside Out, which feature striking architecture and design. I always have my nose firmly stuck into that.”

However, when pressed on the building she would have liked to design herself, it is still film that inspires Reid. “Villa Överby designed by John Robert Nilsson, from David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, is the building I would most like to have put my name to. In reality, I’d want to design something using timber as opposed to a minimal glass structure, but I loved the film and I loved that house in the film. It was a huge architecture crush moment for me!”

With so much low-slung southern hemisphere architecture on her radar, it’s surprising to hear that home for Reid is a beautiful Georgian apartment in Edinburgh. Simple period detail such as window shutters, flagstone floors and handmade kitchen cabinetry is combined with stripped floors and doors, and soft white walls which turn the focus back to furniture and lighting, including pieces by Tom Dixon and Le Klint. It’s a working home, and so practical calm space reigns. That is until her dachshund Harris appears, demanding a walk. With that Fiona is off, looking for new inspiration in her home city, to express to readers far and wide.

THE BRAND Toast, which is mostly about the clothes, but the styling and brand identity is impeccable. They’re selling a lifestyle – and a very desirable one. I want to live in every Toast catalogue.
THE PLACE If I could just move to Paris I think I’d be happy. I could wander round the streets gazing at the buildings all day.
THE DESIGNER / ARCHITECT I love the work of the Copenhagen-based Norm Architects, both in terms of their architectural projects and their product design. UK-wise I'm a huge fan of James Gorst Architects and Pitman Tozer Architects.
THE ECO DESIGNER I’ve long admired the work of Dualchas Architects. I crave a simple structure that’s connected to the landscape.
THE LIGHT I’m a fan of Tom Dixon’s work, and would love to have a collection of Beat lights, in black, suspended over a dining table. Ditto the Copenhagen pendant by SPACE Copenhagen for &tradition.
THE MATERIAL Copper. The blog isn’t called Copperline for nothing! I bought Tom Dixon’s Copper Shade nine years ago and my love for the material has never waned.
THE CHAIR Not an original choice, but I’ve loved Hans Wegner’s Wishbone chair since the dawns of time. Indeed, anything by Wegner… The Teddy Bear chair always makes me smile.
THE PATTERN I’ve long admired Neisha Crosland’s work and would love to use her geometric cement floor tiles from The Florentine Collection.
THE WEBSITE Instagram. I’m inspired daily by the incredible creativity I find there and particularly by the original content that’s shared. It’s my addiction.
THE DUO I’m currently very drawn to the work of Signe Bindslev Henriksen and Peter Bundgaard Rützou of SPACE Copenhagen.

/ @thecopperline