Ciara Donegan-Davies, Jane Clayton & Company

Ciara Donegan-Davies started her career with the renowned designer Nina Campbell, where she led projects for The Groucho Club and The Campbell Apartment Bar in New York’s Grand Central Station. More recently, she’s overseen refurbs for East India Club and the renovation of the 5* Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath and currently works at Jane Clayton & Company. Ciara shares her interior design tips.

Each space comes with its own challenges and a specific client, brief and overall objective – but a consistent approach in some areas is useful when embarking on a new project.


Above anything else, I believe comfort is central to good design. In a hotel, bar or restaurant the guest should feel as comfortable as they do in their own home, but hopefully surrounded by considerably superior facilities! The days of stuffy formal service seem to be passing in favour of a relaxed, calm guest experience, supported by informal and comfortable hotel interiors.

Classic Style

I love seeing the latest offerings from the fabric and furniture companies we work with, and this is a particularly inspirational time of year with London Design Week around the corner. As a designer it’s always important to keep up to date with trends, but in hospitality design that needs to be tempered by the need for durable interiors. For instance, hoteliers generally expect an 8-10 year lifespan on design work, so it’s important to keep schemes classic and timeless, rather than fashion focused.

Ambient Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important tools at a designers disposal. Mixed level lighting, preferably on a simple system (you shouldn’t need instructions to operate your bedroom lights), can help to create an ambient atmosphere; particularly important in restaurants and hotels, which needs to look great throughout the day. I’m loving these new Bert Frank table lamps which are full of Art Deco luxury.

Function and Form

In a commercial environment aesthetics need to be balanced by functional design. Rooms must work from an operational perspective and furniture and furnishings need to be robust and durable.  Achieving this balance of function and form is an important part of my job, alongside managing client and guest expectation. Always a challenge!

Evolution of Style

The most successful interiors give an impression of gradually evolved style. An interior as a collection of gathered items rather than a show-house of newly bought goods is the ultimate goal. I enjoy a mixture of styles, colour, fabrics and texture – an eclectic look supplemented by great artwork and styling. Antique pieces should sit alongside new, with super comfortable seating and beds and great finishing touches in opulent soft furnishings and lighting.

Subscribe to our newsletter