2 Minutes With ... Kate Marlow, Creative Partner at Here Design

The designer's inspirations, from music to motherhood

Photo illustration by Ashley Epping

Kate Marlow is an award-winning designer and one of co-founders and creative partners of Here Design.

She has art directed design, identity and innovation projects for some of the world's most revered brands, including Campari, Fortnum & Mason, Hauser & Wirth and Hendrick's Gin. Kate continues to direct the design teams across some of the most creatively exciting platforms including immersive brand worlds, photography and film.

Her recently awarded work includes the identity and packaging design for Deliciously Ella, which won a Gold Pentaward.

We spent two minutes with Kate to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired. 

Kate, tell us...

The town where you were born.

I was born in Poole, Dorset, but grew up in neighboring Bournemouth, an affluent seaside town underpinned then with a pretty ferocious rave culture. I left as soon as I was old enough, but do have a constant yearning to be beside the sea. My foundation art course was at Shelley Park, a manor house on the cliffs, where Mary Shelley once lived. It was very free spirited and exploratory.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

I wanted to be an artist. The fear of not being able to buy my own house led me towards "commercial art," as it was then called. Now I have a house, I'm trying to rebuild art back into my practice more and put those fears to rest.

How you discovered you were creative.

I don't recall a discovery moment. My happiest youngest memories were ones of drawing wallpaper designs on big empty rolls of wallpaper, and of drawing birds and making small books before I could write properly. My mum's kind art friends were overly complimentary about what I was doing, and so everyone noted it to be my thing from very early.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

I idolized my mum for being the most wonderful at life drawing. She had strong relationships with artists who were part of my growing up, but I didn't idolize them, I just experienced their worlds and liked the smell of the paints and the colors and freedoms they seemed to have. Idolize is a strong word! I think my only idols have been within my family or in music. In the arts I always tried to normalize what I thought I wanted to become a part of, so as not to feel like it was out of reach.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

Listening to my now husband, and business partner, stand up and present to our class in the first year of our degree. Until he spoke, everything was very pedestrian and mundane. When he presented his ideas, the whole room changed. Even our tutor knew he was in the presence of a very unique thinker.

The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.

Lenny Kravitz at the Bournemouth International Centre in 1990 with my sister for her birthday. Music is everything to me. It's hard to pick one band, but I repeatedly come back to Fugazi and Jon Hopkins. Of late I'm listening to Bowie from across all decades, and Abra, who I've been mesmerized by since seeking her out at Primavera Barcelona in 2018.

Your favorite artist.

I'll always have a huge admiration for Coco Chanel. She was such a radical thinker who brought about tremendous changes in style, fashion and culture and the idea of what femininity was. Simultaneously she was modest and vulnerable.

Your favorite hero or heroine in fiction.

Harriet Cleve from Donna Tartt's The Little Friend. Having two children myself who are completely co-dependent makes this book memorable and intense for me.

The best book you've read lately.

Portraits by John Berger. A brilliant collection of essays and dialogues between John Berger, other artists and sometimes his daughter, on a hugely diverse collection of artists through history. He was such a brilliant man, and his writing is so rich with his own personality. He's clever, kind and reasoned, yet also brutally bitchy at the same time. He's also not afraid of swearing.

Your favorite movie.

Almost impossible to answer. Blade Runner has always been up there. But I also love Rust and Bone by Jacques Audiard, which is a difficult and passionate love story mixed up with orca-related catastrophe.

Your favorite Instagram follow.

I've been Instagram free (almost) for nearly a year in a bid to read more books and be more present in general. But admittedly I do sometimes have a look, and then I'll check @Isamayaffrench, who I like for her audacious reinventions. I'll also check @Noelstewart and @BRUTgroup for inspiration fixes.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on, and why.

Last year we created the brand identity for The Fife Arms, a reimagined Victorian coaching inn from the co-founders of acclaimed global gallery Hauser & Wirth. It was an opportunity for the studio to embrace any of our collective skills across strategy, identity, packaging, book design and copywriting all the way through to interior styling and the making of iconic artifacts.

Your favorite creative project from the past year, and why. 

Farmacy was a highlight. We worked on the strategy and positioning for the brand and this then flowed through into a series of documentary films, the brand identity, lifestyle products and styling in the restaurants in London and New York. The philosophy behind biodiversity is powerful and life changing.

Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

Kit Yamoyo for U.K. health-based charity ColaLife. The initiative used Coca-Cola's Africa distribution network to get life-saving drugs to children across Africa, designing kits that slotted in between the bottles in the standard Cola bottle crates. There's nowhere Coca-Cola can't reach. 

Someone else's creative project that you've been envious of lately.

Transformer: A Rebirth of Wonder at 180 The Strand. 

Your main strength as a creative person.

Being passionate about doing unique work. And being a mother, where thinking in a non-linear way is standard. 

Your weakness or blind spot.

Knowing when to let go and give up on a creative path you thought was brilliant.

One thing that always makes you happy.

International Klein Blue.

One thing that always makes you sad.

The absence of an idea or momentum.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in design.

Making color from natural pigment.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.

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