The back of a taxi may seem an unlikely place for design maven Kelly Hoppen to find peace and quiet. But for now, that's all the 'queen of taupe' can hope for. After a whirlwind week, launching a home fragrance in Paris, wallpaper in Britain and a furniture collection in Hong Kong and the mainland, Hoppen still manages to sound hyped for this interview, conducted on her mobile phone while hurtling through Shanghai's streets. 'I really want to work out here - we've already done a lot of work in Bangkok and Singapore so I'm hoping a dinner at Hong Kong's China Club with some property people will be successful,' says Hoppen. 'People are really inspiring [in Hong Kong] and I think they're open to brands developing themselves much more so than anywhere else in the world.' Hong Kong's breakneck speed is what Hoppen thrives on. Confident, and self-assured, yet chatty and personable, she was in town recently to show off her first consolidated home collection, to be sold at Indigo Living from this month. The 50 pieces in the Kelly Hoppen Home range, which includes everything from dining tables to paints and accessories, are classic Hoppen and come in all of the colours you'd expect: whites, taupes and beiges. 'It's a very easy collection. I don't try to dictate to people - you don't need to have the entire range. Whatever piece you pick, you don't need to be a brain surgeon. You can incorporate it into your decor and it will work with pieces you bought a year or two years ago. 'I always say the base colours need to be neutrals so we've got black, a lot of silver, gold, metal and some extraordinary antique glass. I think the bigger pieces of furniture should always be neutral and then you can add flashes of colour with your curtains, carpets and glass. That way you won't get bored with your interiors.' Hoppen's life has been anything but boring. At age 51, she has just begun writing her autobiography - and it's been a cathartic experience. 'It's extraordinary when you go back in your life and look at things you've done - it's like clearing out the cupboard,' she says. Much of what is written about Hoppen's design genius also comes with a history of her 'colourful life'. 'I think your parents have a great deal to do with the way you turn out. My parents were extraordinary people,' Hoppen says. Her father, Seymour, heir to what was at the time the largest clothing company in South Africa, Rex TrueForm, died unexpectedly when she was 16. 'I was so distraught, I just thought I never ever want to rely on anyone again, but to some degree that's to my detriment. It made me a very altruistic personality.' As a child she moved from Cape Town to London with her family. Her favourite hobby was viewing show flats with her design-conscious mother, Stephanie. She was just 17 when she completed her first job - a kitchen for a friend of her mother. Her second commission was for Guy Edwards - at the time a British Grand Prix star and the boyfriend of a friend. This set her on the road to a rich and famous clientele: now she is the designer to whom celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins and the Beckhams turn when they have a spare GBP300,000 (HK$3.7 million) to ?8 million. As well as interior design, property developments and hotels, her most famous commissions are British Airways' first-class cabins and the Beckhams' Los Angeles pad. When Hoppen, whose design business reportedly turns over GBP18 million a year these days, launched her first trailblazing book, East Meets West, in 1997, she broke new ground by taking Asian design and incorporating it into contemporary interiors. 'The phenomenon that came from that book took me completely by surprise,' she says. 'When it was launched, suddenly the whole high street was full of Buddhas and Indian and Chinese d?cor. My inspiration has always come from the East. I just happen to love oriental art, Buddhas and statues and I have a great collection myself.' It's her search for harmony that has made Hoppen's work so enduring. 'The design is really important to the people who live in it, not because you want your neighbours to say you've got a beautiful home. To be honest, my philosophy has always remained the same; that's why I've always remained at the top.' Part of this philosophy has been to ignore what's in fashion. 'I try to stay away from trends because I don't think they last. And I'm not into chintzes. There are lots of things I don't like but I'm always open to suggestions. Four years ago if someone had asked if I'd ever use a carnation flower in my home I would've thought that's absolutely mad, but two years ago that's all I put into my home. Never say never is the answer. It's your interpretation of something anyway. 'My mother is probably my biggest inspiration: she's still working in her mid-70s. She's always had passion and I'm always very positive. I believe in my ability - I imagine all the things I want and make them come true. I don't ever believe that I can't succeed. That's what I strive to teach my daughter and my stepchildren.' Her aim for professional perfection is in contrast to her personal life. She is twice divorced and has had her share of cheating boyfriends. She dated actors Jamie Foxx and Jamie Theakston and celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke. She has a daughter from her marriage to restaurateur Graham Corrett, and her second marriage to investment banker Ed Miller made her stepmother to actress Sienna Miller and her sister, Savannah. Her design icons are Ralph Lauren and Donna Karen. 'These are people who created a brand philosophy from the beginning. It's like putting roots into the ground - then you can go in lots of different directions, but your core philosophy always remains the same.' Hoppen's screensaver reminds everyone of her motto: 'Nothing is Too Big and Nothing is Big Enough.' 'When I got my MBE from the Queen last year, everyone was like, 'My God you've topped it.' And I said, 'There's something else coming; I know there is.'' Diverse universe Kelly Hoppen's design universe ranges from multimillion-dollar projects to clothing. Here are some of the projects carrying the Kelly Hoppen name: School: week-long courses are held monthly at the Kelly Hoppen Design School in London. Hoppen gives a key lecture every month. Books: she's just signed off on her latest book, Kelly Hoppen Ideas. Other titles include East Meets West, Kelly Hoppen Close Up, Kelly Hoppen Style and Kelly Hoppen Home. Wooden shutters: her shutters are a favourite design element because they can easily control the amount of light a room receives. Paint: Kelly Hoppen Paint Collection includes subtle, neutral colours. Wallpaper: her collection for Graham & Brown is inspired by natural textured surfaces, minerals and fabric weaving. Clothing: the Kelly Hoppen for Earth Couture collection uses organic materials. Designs are casual and made with soft, stretch fabrics and coloured with natural dyes. Fabrics: in conjunction with Savile Row cloth manufacturers Holland and Sherry, Hoppen has created a range of fabrics in her famous 'Perfect Neutrals' colour palette of natural tones and textures including cashmere, linens and cottons. Taps: the Kelly Hoppen Bathroom Tap Collection combines her trademark attention to pure design and simple, clean, angular lines. Retail: her Shop at The Yard in London sells accessories, cushions and lighting. Design: her team works on up to 40 private commissions worldwide at one time. Previous commercial projects include Hotel Murmuri, Barcelona; restaurant Rhodes W1 in Park Lane, London; Royal Mougins Golf Club, Cannes.