The founder and managing director of interior design and architecture practice Basha-Franklin on how she got started in the industry, how she would spend £1m and her favourite destinations.

Rachel Basha-Franklin

Rachel Basha-Franklin

How did you join the property industry?

I have always been captivated by the power of design to influence how we think and feel. I grew up in Australia where my family had a retail furniture business and, even as a child, I recognised the vital interplay of materials, textures and colours and their effect on us.

My visits to the Sydney Opera House as a youngster consolidated my burgeoning love of design – I wanted every building to be that amazing, or at least try. I went on to study interior design at the University of Technology Sydney and later set up my London practice in 2007.

What does your job entail?

I spend much of my time looking after projects and clients and nurturing and directing our team. I am also focused on building a flexible, streamlined and progressive business model for our clients. A big part of my job is asking how can we deliver more for our clients – more value, more success, more creativity? That’s why we offer an interdisciplinary service: to provide total, transformative inside-out design.

What do you like most about the property industry?

I have an explorer mindset. My curiosity is never satisfied, so working in a dynamic, innovative and globally diverse industry keeps me stimulated. And then there are the people – I love collaborating with ambitious clients and incredible experts and craftspeople who bring something new to the table.

And what do you dislike most about it?

I would love to see the government set national competency standards for interior design. There is no RIBA or professional association equivalent for interior designers, so anyone can call themselves one, which undermines the profession and its capabilities. We need a professional association to protect clients and consumers while recognising the immense value of interior design.

What would you change about the property industry?

The carved-up production-line approach to the design process. While I understand the drive for efficiency, breaking up the design process into parts delivered by different teams can break the threads of the overall vision and solution. This, ultimately, erodes the long-term value and quality of the project.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

A major challenge facing interior designers is being brought into the design process too late, which results in missed opportunities for the overall design. We have overcome this by integrating architecture into our service offer. Because everything – inside and out – emerges from the same narrative, we can uncover opportunities to maximise the design by exploring and testing scenarios that lead to buildings and spaces people love, while maximising our clients’ return on investment.

What are you most proud of in your career?

It is a joy to have won awards and accolades, but what I am most proud of is our team. Over the years, we have carefully curated a team of exceptionally talented individuals – creative and technical in equal measure. Their passion, unique perspectives and relentless curiosity propel us forward.

What do you value in people?

A can-do attitude. I have learned that having positive, optimistic people surrounding you leads to better outcomes. We cannot do this job alone, so team spirit is the nirvana.

What advice would you give someone starting a career as a designer?

You must put in the time and effort to explore your ideas. If you want to be exceptional, give yourself time to master your skills. Don’t hesitate, ask questions, expect mistakes, keep moving forward and have patience.

Top recommendations

Something to read:

The Sydney Opera House by Peter FitzSimons, which is all about the ultimate drama of property development. The design was incredible, and so was the journey. 

Something to listen to:

Material Matters with Grant Gibson is my go-to podcast. It is inspiring to hear the stories of some of the most diverse voices in the industry developing unique materials. 

If I had a million pounds:

I would further invest in the expansion of Basha-Franklin’s creative services. We are already exploring collaborations with sustainable manufacturers to create desirable, innovative products and materials. A recent example is the potential use of mycelium and seaweed to create a biodegradable product for commercial interiors. A million pounds would help the acceleration to market. 

Top travel destination:

Château La Coste in Provence has food, architecture, art, sculpture – just a few of my favourite things. The estate is owned by Paddy McKillen, who also owns The Connaught Hotel in Mayfair. He is one of my dream clients. And from my extensive beach experience, Cave Beach in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, is the best beach in the world.