The History of KLC School of Design

A recent clear out of some little-used cupboards recently rewarded us with a hidden cache of old photographs from the early 1980’s – only a couple of years after KLC School of Design was formed. There was much amusement over the large hairstyles and the even-larger shoulder pads (!), and stories were recounted of previous students and staff members alike.

This little trip down memory lane, combined with the fact that we’re celebrating our 33rd birthday this summer, inspired us to give you a brief history of KLC School of Design.

KLC Origins
The school was created in 1982, by Principal Jenny Gibbs, who saw a niche in the interior design education market and began to teach interior design short courses from her kitchen table in west London.

The popularity of Jenny’s classes grew at such a rate that very soon external premises were needed to accommodate more students! She gradually built up a team of industry professionals to teach alongside her at Leighton House, St Mary Abbots Hall, Blythe Mews and Springvale Terrace – all of which housed KLC during its early years. But it was the move to the fifth floor of Design Centre East, Chelsea Harbour, in the late 1990s which really positioned KLC right in the heart of London’s design district. Today, the school is comprised of seven large studios, a lecture theatre which seats up to 75 people and a dedicated CAD (computer aided design) suite.

Interior Design Courses
In 1985, after three years of offering short introductory courses in interior decoration, demand increased for the school to provide more substantial qualifications. It was at this point that Jenny Gibbs and her colleagues formulated a yearlong Diploma in Interior Design and a month-long Certificate in Interior Decoration. These qualifications, which have now been in existence for 30 years, continue to be the mainstay of the courses which KLC offer, however they have evolved considerably!

Today the Certificate Interior Design course can be studied full time or part time, and the year-long Full Time Diploma Interior Design has intakes in both September and January. The option to study this course via Blended Learning, for two years and a term, was launched in 2007 and continues to be popular with those who live outside of London or can’t commit to full time study. In 2010, both study options for the Diploma course were validated by the University of Brighton, making it a Level 5 Diploma qualification.

Following on from the validation of the Diploma course in 2010, KLC went on to launch a one year Bachelors course which enables students to achieve a full degree in interior design. The first BA (Hons) Interior Design course ran in September 2013 and the first intake of students graduated in July 2014, to much celebration and accolade.

KLC School of Design was also one of the very first schools to introduce open learning courses in Interior Design and Garden Design. Our first distance learning course was the Open Learning Diploma which was released in 1987. Since then, the course has been regularly revised and updated, evolving away from the original "correspondence course" style, towards an entirely online format, including lectures, slideshows and visual presentations.

Garden Design Courses
KLC’s garden design courses started in 1999 with the ten week Certificate in Planting Design. The Diploma in Garden Design was added in 2000. The garden design courses moved to private studios in Hampton Court Palace in September 2008 and the outdoor, practical elements of the courses are held in the 20th Century Gardens in the grounds of the Palace.

KLC Garden Design Diploma graduates have exhibited at both the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, with KLC Alumni such as Matthew Childs, Anoushka Feiler and Rachel Parker-Soden all winning medals for their contributions.

International Connections
Over the past thirty years, KLC has built up relationships with three leading international design schools - promoting international collaboration on design education. There is the Machida Academy in Tokyo, Japan, the Details Design School in Moscow, Russia and the Créad School in Lyon, France. Students from these schools attend KLC on an annual basis for specialist masterclasses and cultural exchanges.

British Institute of Interior Design
In January 2010 KLC’s Principal and Founder, Jenny Gibbs, was appointed President of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID). Her role as President involved encouraging high standards of education and professional practice as a key part of the Institutes on-going strategic plans. Jenny's tenure as President of the BIID was for eighteen months and during this time the Institute greatly advanced the development of career pathways for interior designers.   In June 2014 Jenny was also presented with the prestigious Merit Award for significant contribution to the development of the Institute, and achieving excellence in the wider field of education.

Did you study with us during the eighties, nineties or noughties? We’d love to hear from you, especially if you have any old photographs of the school, the tutors or your project work!