Christian Bense is an interior designer based in London who also runs the no-BS blog The Basic Principle. Christian is on a mission to cut the jargon of the interiors world and deliver simple, effective principles to make homes chicer.
What are you currently up to with your Interior Design work and how did you get into it?
I work full time as an interior designer in London. I’ve been here for the last 5 years, and I recently launched my blog The Basic Principle. After graduating college and landing an interior design job, that’s where the hustle really began. You realise that university work is one thing, real life design is completely different.
It was only after a few years working in interior design in London that the idea of The Basic Principle came about. It was really out of a need to save my sanity. There is so much information out there when it comes to interior design, and there really isn’t anyone saying what is right or wrong. I’m not saying that it’s my way or the highway, but I really wanted to create a platform where I could educate people on the fundamental principles of design so that they could better inform their own decision-making in their designs.
It’s one thing to love a pic you find on Insta and try and replicate it, but it’s another thing to understand why you like it, why it all works together and how to take the essence of that and make it work for you. That’s what the blog is all about.
What does “home” mean to you and how has that changed over time?
Having moved to London and being faced with the reality that I would no longer be able to afford the luxury of a 3 bedroom house on a mid-weight designer salary, I really had to re-evaluate what home meant for me. For ages I was torn between the life I was building in London and what I had left in South Africa. In the end, “home” for me became comfort. I have lived in some pretty suspect places in London, and home isn’t about ownership, it’s about feeling comfortable. Once you grasp that understanding, you see home as so much more than just 4 walls. As an interior designer, creating homes for others for a living, I think I would live in a state of resentment if I didn’t place the value of “home” on things personal and important to me as an individual.
Do you have one person’s home that you lust after?
So I’m a tad biased on this one, but it was the first home I designed while lead designer at Turner Pocock. I poured my blood, sweat and tears into this job. I hand-selected every item in the house, and photographed it over three days to make sure that every image was perfect. It went on to win Best Living Space UK in 2017 and Best Residential Interior in 2019, so that was a hard job to hand the keys back for…
You can check out the project here: Stratford Studios
What are your pet peeves when it comes to interior design?
When people spend time and money making the shell of the home perfect, investing in architects, throwing money at the build, and then fill the home with crap. Watch an episode of Grand Designs and you will know what I mean…. A home needs to be designed holistically, and that means that the size of the skylight is as important as the colour of the sofa.
We’d love to know your favorite suppliers or any cool designers or shops to pick up bits for the home.
So before I give a list, I must add that I never shop for everything in one place. As soon as I feel like a room is starting to feel like a min version of the shop I am buying from, I drop it like it’s hot.
One of my fave stores is online store is Decorum for big and small items.
Heerenhuis from Belgium is literally a supplier I use on EVERY project. Belgium designers are literally just the best and their stuff actually makes my heart soar it is so beautiful.
A new furniture maker I have discovered recently is Alfred Newall. His stuff is pretty much polar opposite to the Belgian guys, but I seriously love his bobbin collection.
A little trade secret for the next one….Kempton Antiques Market. It will literally send you into a coma. Every second and last Tuesday of the month. It is the home over every antique you see being charged double in Shoreditch. Get in early, like 6am and you will never be the same.
What’s the most overlooked room in the house and how would you suggest we give it some design love?
I think people are actually quite aware of their homes nowadays and know that they need to make an impact 360 degrees. However, I think the bathrooms are generally where people trip up the most. Especially when people aren’t renovating a home. A good bathroom is a true testament to a well thought out home. It’s like the stitching on a really expensive coat. People seem to make the bathroom fixtures the most important thing in the bathroom, and whilst useless without them, there is no need for your taps and loo to be the star of the room. The bathroom should be the melting pot of all the finishes and materials in the home; the same principles apply to the bathroom as the kitchen. Mix your materials, add in art, use fabric in a bathroom, paint the walls a colour, wallpaper the walls. The bathroom isn’t a surgical theatre where everything needs to be hard, cold and easily cleaned. Live a little.
HomeHero is a digital home manager, taking care of your chores, bills, maintenance and admin, to free up your time for what matters most.