Define & Design: With Mathilde Le Villain [Ep. 1]


Welcome to the first episode of our Define & Design series where we enlist the help of experienced professionals to help us create inspired flooring concepts, imagine unique room designs, and share their own insights and experiences in the interior and design industry.

Ted Todd loves to work with creative people, and we can’t wait to share these original collaborations with you.

For the first instalment of this brand-new series, we worked with Mathilde Le Villain. A designer and artist, Mathilde has decades of invaluable commercial interior experience having created standout interiors for Nando’s and Benihana.

Please can you introduce yourself?

My name is Mathilde Le Villain and I founded LA VILLAINE 2 years ago after over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. It made sense for me, at this point in my career, to start my own business – to create a company based on the values I believe in.

As much as I am a designer, I am also an artist. I think different design practices design in different ways. I always think differently and do things in my own way. I wanted the freedom to really create the way I want to. To have total creative freedom and work with a client who looks for this level of creativity from their designer really reflects on the project.

How were you first introduced to the Ted Todd brand?

I initially discovered Ted Todd as I had some flooring samples in my material library while I was working on a Nando’s project at Harrison over 15 years ago. I first specified Ted Todd because of the quality of the timber. I had a client who loved the dark smoked oak wide plank Bedgebury which was really beautiful. The brand offers something premium – there are other suppliers which can be cheaper but for something special or reclaimed I go to Ted Todd.

I also rediscovered Ted Todd through Robert Walsh, founder and CEO whom I met at networking events. He is a really fascinating person with a lot of stories and is very passionate about what he does. He is also very cultured and has a quirkiness with artistic views.

The team approached me for help with mentoring and developing products which was really interesting as I saw things in a different way working with the team behind the brand.

Bedgebury Plank, Classic Tones Collection

Getting to know the people behind the brand

Coming to Cheshire to meet the team was really beautiful as they are all really friendly. London has a different kind of friendliness, but the team at Ted Todd is like a big family so coming back I feel like part of that family too. 

It’s nice to experience a people connection as well as a material one. But what really makes the difference is to have all of this underpinned by the philosophy and the culture behind Ted Todd and Woodworks. 

Coming to Cheshire and seeing the Central workshop – how the Woodworks floors are handmade, and understanding the process is also really fascinating.

Designing for the hospitality industry

In the hospitality industry, I am designing for customers, not for myself – the spaces are for everyone. A hospitality interior has to be welcoming and make a connection in which you can interact. I think after Covid we are designing with a sense of humanity after understanding the impact of isolation. These connections are even more valuable now and impact space in the same way culture or trends might. Because of that when we stay in a hotel we want to feel at home. 

Also, some people travel for culture, they want to leave home at home and experience the lifestyle of the destination. They get inspired by the hotel or restaurant they visit, and return from their trip wanting their homes to look like this.

So, there is a crossover of requirements for space and experience, but in the end, we are all after a sense of beauty, a need for function and a feeling of comfort when we travel away from home.

nandos edinburgh

How do you achieve those elements through design?

Material choices play a big part. Timber for example gives us warmth and a natural element to a scheme. 

The world is changing too, and people aren’t buying as many things that don’t last and that are environmentally damaging. Homeowners are also looking for quality. Similarly, they hope to see this attitude replicated in the commercial spaces they visit.

In the hospitality industry, a floor is going to be well used so you want to make sure the floor will last and live up to its function. If you buy a premium product from a trusted manufacturer like Ted Todd, rather than the cheapest, you’ll help ensure it lasts.

If I specify timber in a project, that timber will change and evolve over time. It is not one-dimensional and even looking at it day or night you get a different shade – it can appear sometimes like a different floor and over the years it develops a lovely natural patina. I think that’s beautiful.

What are the trends for 2023?

Personally, I am not someone who’s into trends, I design for a project and a brand. I also believe if you want a long-lasting design then don’t follow trends. 

I would say the same for your home if you don’t want to get bored with your floor, follow your heart.

The concept of a commercial brand is different because the story you have to create is for them, not your own.

With Ted Todd, we are very spoilt as they have so many different shades and tones to choose from, and also finishes and textures, that there is a floor for every style and heart.

Coming back to the original question though, I think we will see more medium-toned floors in 2023. I’ve also seen quite a lot of heavy grain and wide boards in use.

Sheringham Plank and Dunham Herringbone

Next in our Define & Design series; Episode Two: Concept to reality. An episode that explores the brief, project scope, ideation stage, and working with Mathilde to realise her designs.

To explore Episode Two, follow this link CONCEPT TO REALITY

Follow Mathilde Le Villain @siga.mathilde