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Meet the Designer: Colette Van Den Thillart

HG Design

Colette van den Thillart

Meet the Designer

We asked designer Colette van den Thillart of Colette van den Thillart Design what fuels her work. The designer — who has established an international reputation for her soulful, atmospheric and highly sophisticated work — has clients whose spaces are featured regularly in a host of publications including Architectural Digest, Veranda and World of Interiors. After studying Interior Design and obtaining a Masters Degree in Decorative Arts from London's Wallace Collection, van den Thillart spent 13 years in the UK as creative director for the legendary design talent Nicky Haslam. She now divides her time between Toronto and Los Angeles, where she continues to add to her global portfolio of projects from the English countryside, London, Toronto, New York and Miami to Ireland, Montreal, Morocco, Denmark, Babados, Monaco and Moscow. Van den Thillart is regularly sought out as a public speaker, and is passionate about her philanthropic ventures such as Historic Royal Palaces, The Design Exchange and the Toronto Library. The secret to this prolific designer's success is rooted in her passion for her craft and and a strong sense of originality. "Design," she says, "should be uplifting, unique and always focused on exploring personal style."

HG: How would you define your style?


CT: I've been told I’m a master of atmosphere and this was a wonderful compliment to me. My personal style is very eclectic: sometimes calm and peaceful and other times exciting and daring!

HG: When did you first become interested in design?


CT: To be honest, I was six! My mother let me decorate my room and I chose green shag carpet (like grass), yellow daisy wallpaper (like a field), and butter yellow curtains (perpetual sunshine) and I realized, as children so easily do, that environment was incredibly important. Uplifting, soothing, healing or inspiring depending on the room.

HG: Who and what inspires you?


CT: I'm inspired by everything from grand historic houses to brutalist architecture and even ephemera like trash on the beach. I recently released The Bear, a wallpaper that I did in collaboration with Work+Sea, which was inspired by a novel called Bear by Marian Engel. Books are important to me; their pages provide endless inspiration.

HG: What's your favourite part of the design process?


CT: I really enjoy my client relationships — they're quite intimate. Creating a house with someone is a big deal — I really enjoy going on that journey.


HG: Styling tip?


CT: Lamps and lampshades! Use more of them and less overhead lighting. Big lamps are wonderful, even in smaller rooms.

HG: Favourite room in the house?


CT: In our house, it’s the living room. The space manages to be both quiet and dynamic at the same time and the proportions are wonderful. The light in the room is also excellent so everyone looks terrific, which is rather a good thing.

HG: Best entertaining tip?


CT: Very little overhead lighting and lots and lots of candles. When it comes to dinner parties, I give considerable thought to the seating plan — it’s an art really, putting people together — it can make or break an evening.

HG: Your happy place?


CT: I have many, but the most poignant one would be our lake house, which my grandfather bought in the 40’s.

Coveted by Colette van den Thillart

"I really enjoy these glasses for everyday use, and I love this blush rose version!"

"I have these glasses and have enjoyed them immensely — they just work with every kind of table setting. You can see them (below) on my mirrored dining table."

"I'll often get 4 or 6 dessert/salad plates in a pattern that I really like, which I then mix with existing pieces. I’m not a fan of one big matching service. I prefer a table to be an assemblage of pieces with different patterns and colours from different eras."