By Amira Hashish
Murude Katipoglu is a firm believer in balancing style with serenity. The founder of London-based interior design studio, Design Stories, grew up in Cyprus and draws on her heritage when evoking the feeling of home. The Mediterranean island's raw beauty and abundance of nature has resulted in her deep appreciation for natural materials.
'I love using natural materials and textures to create timeless spaces,' she says. 'To me, it's all about achieving balance and contrast. Most importantly, I like a space to feel calm and comfortable.'
After graduating from Kingston University with a degree in interior design, Katipoglu spent seven years working for reputable studios on high-profile hospitality and residential projects in London. In 2017, she decided it was time to set up on her own, and so Design Stories was born.
Whether renovating a rural country house or a farm-to-table dining space, the studio fuses different styles and periods to create elegant designs with a hand-finished quality. The common thread between every project is an approach that feels understated, yet warm and inviting.
The studio itself is testament to these values. In a former leather factory just off Bermondsey Street, original timber beams reflect traces of the building's history. They sit alongside bespoke furniture and sumptuous materials.
Instead of traditional desks, a long wooden table acts as the shared workspace, alongside an open-plan kitchen where the smell of freshly brewed Monmouth Coffee lingers.
'Our design process doesn't necessarily change if we're working on a home or a hospitality project,' Katipoglu explains.
'We start by defining a mood. Most of the time, people come to us with a Pinterest board with the look they want - but when you look beyond the images, there's often a different story to tell. We begin our process by asking the question: "When you walk into your space - whether it's a house, restaurant or hotel - what's the first feeling you want to experience?" Then we build on materials and colour palettes.'
A dream project for Design Stories would be a boutique hotel, filled with character. 'If someone has a beautiful one in Italy, Greece or somewhere sunny, we would love to design it,' says Katipoglu. 'We do residential and commercial, so it would be a good combination of both worlds.'
No doubt a homely, relaxing ambience would be at the heart of the property. For Katipoglu, the key ingredients for a cosy night in are dimmed warm lights, scented candles, a throw, a comfortable sofa, background music, and some tea.
She says her favourite space at home is her reading corner, packed with books and magazines. This is where you'll find her curled up on the weekend when work and travel allows.
'Home is where you can "be" without the worry of the outside world. It's a space where you can surround yourself with everything you love that gives you joy. You can make it all about you,' she says.