I’ve long been a fan of interior designer Jo Berryman’s work; her spaces are opulent yet down-to-earth, inspirational, sometimes delightfully whimsical yet seem instinctively to be entirely centred around the user and how the space can work for them. In short, Jo designs spaces you’d want to call home.
Jo started her career in fashion, working for Elle and Agent Provocateur before founding one of London’s first concept fashion stores, Jezebel, in 2006. Drawing inspiration from fashion, art and architecture, Jo made the move into interior design by establishing the Jo Berryman Studio in 2009
In the case of her re-design of the gloriously restful yet indulgent 42 Acres Retreat, which we’ve been lucky enough to take a peek inside and share with you here, every room is designed with relaxation in mind, but of course, as Jo has made sure, by applying her signature style, relaxation certainly doesn’t mean dull!
I’m thrilled to have caught up with Jo to ask her a few burning questions about how she does it, what inspires her and what’s next for the Jo Berryman Studio.
Although you are now at the helm of one of London’s most sought after interior design studios, you started your career in fashion. Can you describe what made you make the move into interiors and how you found the transition? Are there any experiences you had, or things you learnt from working in the fashion world that shape your work now as an interior designer?
Interiors felt like the inevitable next step and a great use of my visual skills. The two worlds feel synonymous, yet I prefer the durability of interiors over fashion, the fickleness of trends and being in perpetual pursuit of the next big thing is too fragile a world to build on. With interiors you’re investing time and emotion in people, their homes, their stories and lives, and that feels much more solid. That said, I apply a very similar fashion eye when dressing and curating spaces. You create a shell and layer up accordingly with bold accessories and meaningful paraphernalia.
We’re thrilled to be able to share a sneaky peek inside the gorgeous rooms you recently designed for the 42 Acres Boutique Retreat. Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your design and some of your favourite elements?
I wanted to create a space conducive to retreat and wellness with an emphasis on elemental and textural features. It is a sprawling retreat so it was important to encourage flow and decorative continuity. We came up with a very simple nomadic and tribal language, taking inspiration from North Africa, South America, Middle East and Scandinavia, using natural skins, organic fibres, applied finishes and varied colourful accents and objects dotted throughout. The idea was for any global citizen to take comfort within its walls yet for it to still encourage healing and change. The landscape is so naturally beautiful and just as vital as the interior to the overall scheme.
One of the things I love the most about your design for the 42 Acres Boutique Retreat is the way you successfully juxtapose different styles of furniture and décor; bright pops of colour with natural elements, plenty of sumptuous soft-furnishings with rougher textures and more rustic pieces. What tips would you give for trying to get the balance right when playing with different design elements (how do we avoid hectic in favour of elegant eclectic!)?
Before you begin, throw out anything that doesn’t bring joy or isn’t meaningful. This makes space for more cherished acquisitions. Lose attachment to the positions of things, rearrange books on shelves, art and furniture, this allows for more flow and dynamism. Display with conviction, be bold with your references and play with scale. I like imposing, graphic patterns in small spaces and tiny embellishments in grand ones. Avoid being too trend-lead, make your vignettes much more personal. Your home is the museum of you.
Something that I think is really admirable about your approach to design is the way you work with and commission UK-based craftsmen and independent designers in your projects. Why is this important to you? How does the process of working with craftsmen and designers on bespoke pieces affect and inform your design and can you talk about any specific examples from any of your projects?
Collaborating with UK-based craftsmen and independent makers is an absolute must. Not only does it allow for the ultimate in quality, care and originality, it also really gets the studio’s creative juices flowing. For 42 Acres, we worked with locally based joiner, Matt Belfrage, who designed the dining tables made from fallen oak foraged in local valleys, cushion makers who made the beautiful meditation cushions stuffed with organic buckwheat from a farm in the Midlands and upholsterers from Bath who created all the soft furnishings from UK fabric suppliers. Seeing the items in the flesh after so much design and planning is always a joy.
As much as I enjoy admiring the finished result of a beautiful interior like 42 Acres, I also love hearing about what happened behind the scenes and what working on a project is really like, warts and all! Can you briefly walk us through a typical design project and also tell us what are your favourite (and least favourite!) parts of working on a new project and bringing it to completion?
We always like to kick start projects with a brainstorming session with our clients over a bottle or two. We can then throw all our ideas into the stew pot and get to know everyone’s vision from the outset. This bit is always fun and the more obscure the interests and references brought to the table, the better. From there we start on all the conceptual work, creating 3D visuals and designs. Then it’s months of planning, budgeting and collaborating with architects and contractors before everything starts to come to life. It’s a very intricate process. I enjoy all the elements, as every stage is different, however, perhaps one of my biggest bugbears is getting hold of builders when there’s snagging to be done. It’s very important for us to finish projects in their entirety and we run a very tight ship.
Now for a really tough one – We love trying to predict what the next big thing in design will be and we’d love to know your thoughts on the design trends you think we’ll all be talking about over the coming year. What are your top trend predictions?
I predict a graphic and opulent nod to 80s early electro music, think The Visage’s Fade To Grey album cover, sorbet colours with a slight eastern influence, lacquer finishes and clean lines.
You’ve already worked on such a fantastic range of different projects, from residential designs to large-scale commercial work. What’s next for the Jo Berryman Studio?
More high end residential projects, a couple of houses stateside and a commercial office building in central London as well as an exciting textile collaboration with Sas and Yosh.
Finally, if you had to pick one building anywhere on earth that you’d like to design the interior for, one ‘dream project’, what would it be and why?
I long to get my hands on a Venetian palazzo on the verge of collapse. The decay and faded grandeur would create the perfect backdrop to implement a futuristic design scheme.
Now, as a long-time lover of all things Venetian, that sounds like a project that I’d love to see! Thanks so much Jo for sharing and for giving us some great tips we can apply to our own homes. I think your tip about editing and only keeping what you really love or use is a timeless one but so important, and something that I’m definitely going to take away from this and try to do better at!
Interview by Philippa Cambers, Founder, TheMakerPlace.co.uk
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