Nicola Osborn, Basha-Franklin


Our next Surface Design Show Isolation Talk is with Nicola Osborn, Creative Director of the creative design consultancy Basha-Franklin. Nicola will be bringing her expertise and knowledge to the table as co-chair of the judges for the Surface Design Awards 2021.

Hi Nicola

Thanks for letting us self-isolate with you, keeping in touch with our friends makes us all feel better. 

Where is your isolation home right now? I am currently in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.


How are you coping with this new lifestyle? It is a balancing act… work life, home life and ‘kids learning’ – thank god for wine being an essential, the sunshine and chocolate! I have not ever had a WFH set up before, so the kitchen table is my new workstation in the heart of our home! Interesting times…. here is a photo and yes I did tidy up 😊

Do you have a daily schedule?To a degree yes – however my planned day can always change at the last minute – the schedule identifies time slots that I can be accessible for video meets, task based and team reviews this is always a little flexible and all has to work with the rhythm of my family, dependant on what side of the bed they got up!

What tends to be the highlight of your day? I have always prioritised recognising highlights in my day. So, this ‘new’ normal presents new highlights. 

Being at home with my husband and kids…even if I am ‘at work’ quite early I am not rushing out the door after a quick good morning coffee, there are more conversations and the ability to carve out moments throughout the week where we can have time together, a walk, breakfast, lunch and dinner - this is fantastic as I usually miss this on an ‘old’ normal day commuting.

Connecting with the outside world (even if it is only virtually) …I thrive on social interaction, it energises me, motivates me, keeping my whole self, happy. I am a tactile, energetic person and a known hugger so these times are especially tricky for me!

What are you missing most? And what don’t you miss at all? Social interaction, I miss the most, I love being with people. I have many different groups of friends that are woven into my commute, design life, and daily routine. I have a strong network that has grown with my work life in London. The variety of people I meet throughout my day, opportune coffee and wine meets, bumping into friendly faces at events and on my commute – always lift my spirits and energise me. My typical home life is a chilled pace in comparison, but much of our weekend is family-focused and often spending time with good friends 😊

I do not miss being time starved, the madness of kid’s weekend sports clubs and having to plan the family calendar down to the hour!

Are there some long neglected jobs that you intend to get around to doing during the lockdown?To be honest the last thing I want to be doing is DIY! However this is a unique gift of time and stasis, all other plans on hold, so I am planning to take some a couple of days off and my husband and I will get our hands dirty carrying out heavyweight clearing and sorting in our garden. This is a long overdue job we have been putting off for the last 3 years!

How do you think our sector will manage these difficult times? Our sector is resilient and forward looking. There will be many conversations going on right now about the impact of this situation and how we as a sector can come back with strength, prepare for what comes next and maximise the opportunities for progress. Design is the best solution for our future.

You are Co-Chairing the judging panel for the 2021 Surface Design that something that excites you? Yes of course! It is great to be invited to be involved. I am a huge advocate of celebrating talent, creativity, and design progress. I am particularly excited about some of the adjustments to the awards that we are implementing this year.

What would you like the entries to particularly focus upon for the Awards? We are strengthening the focus on materiality and the sustainability mindset. Calling all projects that have a unique creative and innovative implementation of materials with a strong sustainability story.

What recently finished projects particularly excite you?There are so many projects that excite, just a few below…. not sure how recent but check them out…

‘22 DWELLINGS’ housing block by MAOI in Barcelona for incredible use of form, texture, materials, and contrast! So inspirational – every time….

Forte Forte London flagship store by Robert Vattilana & Giada Forte - inspiring use of materials unexpected and unconventional material palette… it is just great!

Stairway House by Nendo for the unexpected ….

Can Picafort by TEd’A arquitectes for the beautiful interpretation of pattern and texture through brickwork and tile.

What will have changed in the interior design sector when normal service resumes? Commercial interior design is multi-faceted. It is people centred and experiential. This situation will undoubtedly impact how we all approach what we need from space. This unique time has already kickstarted more conversations about our holistic wellbeing and whole health, our relationship with the built environment and how we want to interact with, buildings, technology, retail, home, work, social events, and travel. What culture do we want to live in and what experiences do we value? All these impacts interior design.

Thanks for letting us self-isolate with you!