CONVERSATIONS: Design Journalist Katie Treggiden

05 October 2018 

Katie Treggiden is a creative that has carved a special world for herself between her two passions; writing and design. Katie believes in stories and their inherent power to create change. These stories have not only inspired her work, but have also served as a force that has led on her current path. After creating an award-winning design blog and running her own independent magazine (neither of which easy feats in today's climate) Katie left it all behind to focus on her writing and so experiences a particular kind of freedom that others only dream of.

According to Katie, she has always been “naturally drawn away from the ordinary” and this certainly rings true. We discover Katie’s Less Ordinary places - shared from one creative to another.

Please give us a short introduction on yourself and what it is you do?
My name is Katie Treggiden and I am a design writer who believes in the power of stories to inspire change. This purpose has taken various forms over the course of my writing career and I’m currently undertaking a Masters in the History of Design at Oxford University, to explore how it will manifest itself in what I do going forward.

Was there a certain spark or ‘eureka’ moment where the idea for your earlier projects were born?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was five years old, but life took me in another direction. An exhibition about Modernism at the V&A ignited my passion for design and provided the muse that my writing had been waiting for.

Have your surroundings, the places or spaces you've worked in, played a part in your creative processes? 
I spend a lot of time in capital or second cities on press trips, researching stories or visiting design fairs – their vibrancy, colour and dynamism is a huge inspiration for my work and provides all my ‘inputs.’ In the same way, studying in Oxford and being aware of all the incredible people who have gone before me is something that I find inspiring and uplifting. But after all that visual and mental stimulation, there is nothing like coming home to the peace and serenity of Cornwall. That’s where all those ‘inputs’ settle, make new connections, and start to make sense.

What is it about running your business that excites you creatively? 
I actually found running a business really limited my creativity and so closed two (an award-winning design blog and an independent print magazine) to focus solely on writing and learning. Now I feel a real sense of freedom and that’s exciting.  

"I love London’s diversity — it is a city where everybody is welcome and you are free to be yourself. You are a ‘Londoner’ from the moment you arrive. "


How do you try to be ‘Less Ordinary’ and push boundaries with what you do?

Despite being a bit of a geek and a definite rule-keeper, I have a bit of a rebellious streak that means I can’t stand following the crowd, so I’m naturally drawn away from the ordinary. It’s really important to me that my work has purpose and so I’m constantly pushing myself to be better, both in terms of the quality of my work, but also in terms of its impact in making the world a better place.
What is it about London that you love the most and does it motivate you?
I love London’s diversity — it is a city where everybody is welcome and you are free to be yourself. You are a ‘Londoner’ from the moment you arrive. I found that really liberating when I moved there from Cornwall via Oxford aged 21. I hope that’s something the city can retain even in these strange times. A sense of belonging is so important.
Is there a certain part of London that you feel a connection to, and if so, where and why?
Shoreditch High Street has changed so much in recent years, but it’s still the part of London I still gravitate to – Soho Works, Ace Hotel, Pizza East and CitizenM are all regular haunts. I also love Restoration Station – a wonderful social enterprise empowering people in recovery from addiction by teaching them furniture restoration skills.
Where do you always find yourself going back to in London – (a specific restaurant, café, bar, pub, venue, hangout or other)?
Somehow, I always seem to end up at the Ace Hotel, their coffee shop Bulldog Edition or their restaurant Hoi Polloi. I think the architects (Universal Design Studio) have done an amazing job of creating a really welcoming series of almost public spaces — it’s as if Shoreditch High Street flows through the ground floor of the hotel. It’s become a real hub for the creative industries.
When travelling to other cities, is there a particular space, B&B, hotel or apartment you’ve stayed that jumps out as being ‘less ordinary’ in any way?
Artists Residence in Penzance (they also have branches in London, Brighton, Oxfordshire and Bristol) is an incredible boutique hotel with a restaurant and bar — it’s the place I feel happiest outside of my own home and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was my safe harbour during a really tough year and has become a firm favourite for special occasions ever since. The staff are simply lovely.As far as where you go or where you like to socialise in London, do you have any hidden gems you’d like to let us in on?
Charlie Wrights on Pitfield Street is my favourite hidden gem for amazing live jazz in an informal setting with the best Thai food I’ve tasted outside of Thailand – two of my favourite things combined in one venue. You can’t beat it, but shhhh, don’t tell anyone!
Interview by Hannah Tan-Gillies

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