Heathfield & Co interviews Robert Yates

Having worked for some of the world’s leading interior design firms, Robert Yates now additionally divides his time between running his antique shop, ‘in|da|cottage’, and creating a stunning range of paintings that have featured in several major publications and exhibitions. In our latest interview, we discuss Robert’s interior design background, the value of antiques for interior designers, and how he came to establish his Suffolk-based antique store.

Tell us some more about your current work and projects you’ve been involved with in the past.

Currently I am involved at Cantor Masters alongside Neil Masters. We are primarily restaurant & bar designers (current clients include Cote Restaurants, Pho Restaurants, Brindisa & Benito’s Hat, but we have also recently completed a family duplex in Holland Park & an apartment in Valencia). My designing pedigree includes David Collins, Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (MBDS), RDD, Studio Reed with Landini Assoc. & Chhada Siembieda in Sydney. Now splitting my time between Suffolk & London allows me the opportunity to run an antique business as well as interior designing, which is an ideal combination allowing involvement with lots of different things!!

Below: Pho Restaurant (designed by Cantor Masters) with lighting by Heathfield & Co

You have worked for some of the industry’s most respected interior design practices, including David Collins, RDD and MBDS. What projects are did you most enjoy working on whilst working for these agencies?

Trying not to sound like the whole thing has been planned but….. I aimed to work for companies that have good reputations with great clients and as a result have been involved with all sorts of interesting projects. Hard to pick a favourite though, but highlights range from large hotels for Rocco Forte in Europe to working on a client’s stand at PAD in Berkeley Square.

What made you decide to make the transition from working for interior design practices, to establishing ‘in|da|cottage’ and working on interior projects on a more freelance basis?

Moving to Suffolk has been the catalyst for all sorts of different things, one of them has been ‘In Da Cottage’ which was an opportunity early on that has progressed to something more permanent… (i.e. a shop!) We started with a pop up selling exhibition in our cottage, where we cleared out our own possessions and stocked & styled it with items for sale – & everything was for sale including the radio!! Anyway we had four exhibitions and each was better received, so when we saw that the old fire station was available in Framlingham we leapt at the chance to do something more permanently and opened In Da Cottage, the shop.

Would you now describe yourself as primarily being a painter, designer, interior designer, or as an eclectic mix?

I’m not good with a label so I think an eclectic mix it would have to be. Anyone that has a passion for creating & the chances to express it can multi task!

How would you describe the style of your paintings and artwork? What have been some of the major influences in forming your particular style?

Somewhat bizarrely the paintings start with the frame. I reuse 1950/60s French linen frames so each one is different & it is this uniqueness that starts my thinking process. The paintings themselves are an expression of 3 dimensions but in 2 dimensions. This is achieved by using the colour & form to create the illusion of shape & depth.

Several of your geometric paintings were featured as part of Heathfield & Co’s exhibition stand for the Decorex International 2014 exhibition, and received a great response from those in attendance at the show. Are there any well-known public settings that you would love to have your work featured?

Painting is a new venture for me so a fantastic opportunity for me to feature with Heathfield at Decorex. Elsewhere I have been featured in World Of Interiors, Conde Nast Traveller & the Saturday Telegraph. I have successfully exhibited at Art For Cure & Arthaus & now have an ongoing display of paintings for sale in Shoreditch. Meanwhile I am on the hunt for a suitable gallery to go international….

Is there any well known public space that you would love to be able to redesign the interiors for?

Wow that is a difficult one as there are so many – could I start with a fantastic modernist gallery and then progress to an ocean liner like The Normandie!

What is your favourite piece of Heathfield & Co lighting and which item from the range?

Really loved the cascading brass leaf chandelier featured at Decorex this year. I gather it sold right there & then, so hopefully you will make another for those of us that were too slow! Otherwise have just used an Andomeda ceiling light in a project and am lusting after the Abies Cylinder!

Do you think being able to source genuine one-off antique/collectable items will always continue be an important factor for interior designers?

Yes & I am perpetually looking/collecting where ever I go. It is hugely exciting to see something amazing that makes your heart beat faster and then be able to use it somewhere. It is also important I think to invest in the artisans of today as they will be the antiques/collectables of the future.

What kind of item would you recommend for someone looking to invest in one piece for their home?

That is dependent on the person but as the old adage goes ‘something useful as well as beautiful’ so would have to be a Jacques Adnet parchment chest of drawers from the 1940s with a mirror from Galerie Mougin above it.

Images below: in|da|cottage, Framlingham, United Kingdom
For more information visit www.indacottage.co.uk