Fine Art Collector | Autumn 2018

Walking into our gallery is as personal to us as you relaxing on our sofa at home, tea and biscuits in hand. Art encompasses everything we do; it’s a lifestyle, not a job. We caught up with our retail designer, Louise Barnett, to find out how she creates artspaces which make our customers and staff feel like a part of the family. Over the last 2 years, our galleries have undergone a major style refresh as we continue to respond to the needs of our collectors. With 36 outlets across the UK, we’re passionate about making each one unique to the city it’s in. From Milton Keynes to Cardiff, Bristol to Sheffield, the vibrancy and heritage of an area weaves itself into every aspect of our design. “It’s an exciting process,” says Louise. “I’m immersed in the project from start to finish, whether it’s visiting new locations or picking fabric samples and sketching ideas. Each gallery is different, but the Castle brand is instantly recognisable. For example, in Manchester we have a bespoke lighting feature, while our Glasgow gallery has tartan accents.” To keep up-to-date with the latest trends, Louise – who has a degree in fine art – regularly visits art markets and university shows. “My own style is quite eclectic,” she laughs. “Decorating a gallery is definitely different to my own home, as our art is always at the forefront of the design. The furniture needs to make you notice the art, not the other way around.”

Working in a creative industry is a dream come true for the busy mum-of-two, who has also managed an art gallery and worked as a PA. Louise joined the company 13 years ago and worked her way up from advising galleries on art trends to leading the design project for our outlet at Birmingham’s Mailbox shopping centre in 2015. “There’s been a lot of learning on the job,” she explains. “You’re given what is essentially a concrete box, which can be a little daunting. But I have a clear vision of what I’d like to achieve, and with the help of the Head of Studio, Ak Suggi, the shopfitting team and facilities manager, we are able to make it happen.


This year marked the 50th anniversary of NeoCon, the world’s leading commercial design event. Held at theMART in Chicago, it revealed a focus on integrated technology,

sustainability and staff wellbeing. Cutting-edge

technology was paired with old- world craftsmanship, while key materials included glass, metal and foliage.

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