Scotland’s Home of the Year 2024: An exclusive chat with judge Danny Campbell

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The hit interior design show is back for 2024

interview by Adrianne Webster

With the latest series of BBC’s Scotland’s Home of the Year set to launch next week, we chat to architect and interior designer Danny Campbell about his route into architecture, his thoughts on interior trends and what it’s like to be part of the successful BBC show…


The new season of Scotland’s Home of the Year airs soon. What’s it like being able to work on such a successful show?

I was a huge fan of the show before I even became a judge, so it’s just brilliant getting to be part of the show. I think it’s it’s such a privilege to be able to go into people’s homes. It must be daunting for the homeowners, with us three turning up and being so judgmental! So yeah, it’s a real privilege and it’s not lost on us, that’s for sure.

In episode one (airing Monday 29th April), there’s a clear winner for you all.

What makes a home special in your eyes?

I thought that the finalist from episode one had spent so much personal time, blood, sweat and tears to create something that was also so delicate, refined and clever. You know, clearly a very, very talented designer in their own right.

Every home this year has so many great qualities, but there were some of them that had something really special.

How did you get started in architecture?

Like a lot of teenagers, I was hunting around for what I was going to do after school, and the one subject where I had any aptitude was graphic design. I had no clue what careers you could do in those fields. And, like a lot of kids, went home and asked my mum, and she got so excited. She was jumping around the kitchen saying, “You’re going to be an architect, you’re going to be an architect!”, and I thought, “Okay, that sounds legit!”.

I think the thing that differentiates my path into architecture was that I always had side hustles as well — I think that entrepreneurship within architecture was probably always my destiny. I’ve certainly found a purpose for myself and I’m still to this day really passionate about the topic.

Photo: Kirsty Anderson

What fuels your passion for design?

I think with anybody starting a business, especially when you’re young — I started when I was 25 — you need to have a very, very clear north star. And for me, it was to help people create a home. I work with normal, everyday people — mostly families — and they’re often completely forgotten about by other architects and perceived as being more trouble than they’re worth. It’s such a lovely thing to help people create a home.

What are you inspired by?

I get inspiration everywhere! Social media, Pinterest… Artificial intelligence software is very much a buzzword at the moment, but we’re absolutely utilising it at HOKO (the architecture and interior design firm Danny founded) to speed up the design process. We use the AI to help visualise the design. People send us their Pinterest board, and we have this algorithm that pulls out their exact style. And I think for a lot of people, knowing their style is such a comfort, but it’s hard to actually verbalise it sometimes. For me, it’s less about individual designers I find inspiration from and more about technology and how we can use that to go further with people.

The kitchen inside ‘Casa Barra’, one of the three homes featured in episode one. Image by Michael Traill

How do you approach the properties from an architect’s perspective when you’re judging the homes? Do you have a mental checklist you run through?

It’s not necessarily a mental checklist, but there’s things that typically work pretty well for home. I think the flow between the public space and private space is the backbone of the property — how do you separate the kitchen, the dining and the social experience from bedrooms and bathrooms and those in-between spaces like corridors. Stairs are places where people can do things that are quite clever, as well.

The upstairs landing inside Quinney Cottage, featured in episode one, which Danny described as “Einstein meets Warhol with haggis bon bons thrown in”

Are there any architecture trends that you’re particularly excited about at the moment?

Yes! A lot of people are incorporating home offices, which I like to work on. There’s also still this hunger post-Covid for people to be entertaining with large groups of people. So a typical brief that you’ll get is that somebody wants to create an amazing social space, so we look at that space within the home that’s maybe underutilised — moving utilities and bathrooms deeper into the building to create that kind of indoor outdoor living, etc.

I think especially what we’ll see over the next month or so is people starting to fantasise about barbecues and having fun in the garden again. So starting to create a space that can connect to the outdoors more.

 

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A post shared by Danny Campbell (@hoko_danny)

What do you have coming up for the rest of this year?

One of the big changes we made at Hoko at the start of this year, which has been so popular, is starting every client with our Project Viability workshops — they’re at a very accessible price point and people can spend time with me or one of my other architects to go through the design experience, understand costs, etc. that’s been incredibly popular so far.


The sixth season of Scotland’s Home of the Year airs on Monday, 29th April on BBC Scotland at 8.30pm. Watch the episode live or catch up on iPlayer.

 

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