As the creative director behind The Gentry – a design business that has undertaken a slew of well-known interiors projects – Kelly Ross also happens to be my teacher at the International School of Colour and Design. Having travelled for 13 years as a set, props and scenic creative for theatre, she’s had quite an artistic journey so far. I sat down for a chat with this Sydney-based Creative to find out more about her business, her role at iscd and what she considers to be her finest moment.
Have you always found yourself to be creative and where do you think it stems from?
The total and absolute freedom my mother gave me; different names, costumes phases, interior decor decisions at tender ages. A definite sense of anything being possible.
What’s a typical day like for a designer?
A typical day for a designer is a bit of a contradiction in terms as the days are usually so different, but something like what follows happens on an average day: car, phone, talk, present to client, coffee, car, phone, phone, phone, source, source, source, car, phone, shop, shop, shop, phone, eat, resolve, car, phone, meeting.
What’s been the biggest struggle in establishing your own business in interior design?
I’ve been lucky. The biggest struggle has been getting out my own way. Things I decided at some point I was no good at like paper trails or accounts. The ideal would be to be able to outsource all of the things about running a business that took the joy out of it, but a lot of the sense of personal achievement would be also lost.
What’s it like working with clients? What challenges do you face?
Working with clients is the same exact thing that makes learning about people so profound and so infuriating. You get to know them pretty intimately for better or worse. You want qualities like steady, supportive, open minded to be on the list of your clients tendencies. You learn a lot about yourself and your abilities to persuade, council and enthuse.
How did you come to discover iscd?
Three years ago I was at a party waiting outside the ladies loo. I met this really tall, loud, beautiful redhead that seduced me into looking at the iscd courses. Two weeks later I was enrolled and have never left!
What advice would you give to people eager to pursue a creative dream like iscd?
Believe in yourself! Our thinking patterns are sometimes generations old and we wear other peoples failures and think they’re our own. To be creative it helps to be relevant, so your attitude to yourself and limitations have to be up to date too.
What’s next for you in terms of iscd and your own business?
My own business is a bit of a wild horse I would like to be able to ride, even if it’s bareback – and then eventually whistle and it comes and canters to my side. I don’t want it to be more predictable but I would like to have more control. iscd is just a great organic project in itself. I want to be a part of whatever we become as a campus and never lose the challenge and privilege it is to communicate with so many people.
What’s your finest moment in your creative journey?
My finest hour is my son Luka. I registered my business when he was three months old. My goal was to be able to create a business that offered flexibility and fulfilment. He helps crystallise the priorities at the end of a bad day. I have him to thank for my motivation to succeed so we can share the life I imagine, both rewarding and full of opportunities. I also managed to find, buy, transport and cut up to get in the door of a pub, an eight-metre boat, which felt pretty awesome.
What current design trends can you not get enough of?
Raw and refined. Rough cut timber and building materials with precious metals. Leather, leather, leather.
What’s your ‘can’t live without’ creative piece?
My gold convex mirror. I will cart that thing around forever. It’s a genuine security mirror and rare for being gold. An elderly woman in a second hand shop sold it to me off her wall, on the premise that she wouldn’t have any idea if she was being robbed anyway.
What’s on your ‘that is so gross I want to burn it’ list when it comes to interior design?
I thought it was fluro until it was being used in some really fun ways. I would have to say patchwork cowhide rugs.
And lastly, how do you live The Life Creative?
I am prepared for poverty in order to die in the knowledge that I wanted to make the world a more beautiful and challenging place for the people I love and ones I may never know.
Photos in this blog post come courtesy of The Gentry and Kelly Ross.