Born in Copenhagen to a Danish father and Norwegian mother, Cat Dal grew up in Singapore and Malaysia, before settling here when she was 13. Spotted at 15 by a scout, she modelled in New York, London and Milan for twelve years, but quit in 2013 to enrol in the Inchbald School of Design. After working for a small design company in Soho, she set up on her own earlier this year.
What made you switch careers after more than a decade?
One of my regular bookings was a high street clothing label, where I worked as a ‘fit model’ and was effectively used as a living mannequin. I just had to turn up and try on clothes and not say a word. I was so envious of the designers creating the clothes, so skilled and passionate about their work, that it made me realise there has to be more to a job than money. Walking away was frightening, but I absolutely love what I do now.
What was the worst thing that ever happened to you as a model?
Being told to lose weight for a fashion show, but also gain weight for a yoghurt commercial in the same week: a perfect example of the madness of the industry. There is literally a book’s worth of ridiculous stories, from getting lost searching for a casting in a dodgy area of Cape Town to turning blue whilst shooting swimwear outdoors in November in Iceland.
How did you arrive in Tufnell Park?
I moved from West Hampstead four years ago: nothing against it, but the area just didn’t seem to have as much as an identity or soul as round here does. Also my fiancée and I are big music lovers (having met at Glastonbury), and NW5 embodies a rich music heritage which we love. We rarely leave the area in the weekends; it’s our own little village in London.
What do you love most?
In no particular order: the sense of community, the Saturday farmers’ market outside Tufnell Park Tavern, the tennis courts at the playing fields, wine-tasting in Meat, shopping for tuna in Jonathan Norris, and the heath and its surrounding pubs.
So how would you describe your style?
Mid-century Scandinavian, mixed with a bit of the Williamsburg (NYC) vibe. I love the history and feel of salvaged materials, and I think a home should always have bit of playful personality, and a ‘hygge’ (cosy in Danish) environment.
How do you start when designing a room?
Sometimes it can be worked around a hue found in a client’s favourite art piece, or perhaps they have described a certain feeling they want to achieve. For my own flat I wanted to go for a rich colour that really brought out the metallic beauty in the Tom Dixon copper lights, so I chose a bold forest green back wall. People are often afraid of darker swatches, thinking it makes a room feel smaller, but the right colours can really bring a space to life.
Where did you find your furniture in the photo of your flat above?
The table and matching bench behind I had made by a small workshop in Sheffield; the shelves were our old floorboards; and the prints are from the Danish artist Kristina Krogh. I also love West Elm, who have a great mid-century collection, and that’s also where I found my massive rug. Locally, Future and Found, opposite Tufnell Park tube, are brilliant for small design gifts and they’ve just started selling prints from a team of Swedish architects who draw city landmarks. Otherwise I love furniture by Ines Cole and the cork Ikea range by Ilse Crawford is genius.
Do you have any favourite materials you particularly like working with?
I’m all about authentic. With the rapid advancement of technology and social media, we as humans reach out to connect with nature, so I think using wood, stone, plants, metals and cork is really important for your daily environment. There is something incredibly calming and soothing about a beautiful piece of timber, so I like to surround myself with it, but maybe that’s just the Scandinavian in me.
Finally, do you know any funny stories about the area?
One day last year I walked towards Tufnell Park station to see several people trying to capture an enormous goose that was running about in circles in the middle of the intersection outside Aces and Eights. Schoolkids, shop owners and drivers were all pretty bemused as to where it came from. And you know what? I never found out.
To contact Cat about anything interior design-related, email Cat@catdalinteriors.com or visit www.catdalinteriors.com