Name: Stephanie Dunning
Company: Dunning & Everard Ltd
Position within company: Director
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
I have worked as an Interior Designer since 1989 from a Design Studio in London, before a move to Wiltshire in 2001. In a former life I worked in TV as a designer for several popular prime time makeover shows. We have a wide ranging portfolio from English Country manor houses to London penthouses, holiday homes in Mustique to a 17th Century Italian lakeside villa in Como. We’ve also designed and installed commercial offices in Mayfair although our main client base is high end residential.
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
My personal design style is eclectic, with clean lines, but functional, incredibly comfortable and yet pleasing with depth. My home is full of objects collected over the years plus photographs of my amazing huge family. My home has been created to give my husband and me a fabulous place to live but one that can expand and contract for times when it is just the two of us and other times when we are inundated with our children and friends.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
Everywhere! As a designer you never fully switch off, every environment serves as inspiration and it could be a texture or a colour, or just the way a certain place makes you feel, you deconstruct it in your mind to think ‘Why does it have this effect on me? What are the ingredients? What can I take from this and implement into a particular project? It’s a bit like cooking really, a great chef knows how to take random ingredients to create the perfect supper, using just the right ratios of each to reach the end result – as designers we do the same, but with colour, texture, light, shade, materials, technology and the confidence to know how to pull it all together.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Further and further away from quick turnaround trends and more towards quality & purpose, which is how I’ve always approached design. I think now a wider audience are starting to realise what a massive impact on well being and lifestyle good interior design can have, it’s not just about pretty cushions and a nice paint colour, good design is actually quite scientific and theoretical when we get down to it. Ergonomics and Anthropometrics are technical elements of design we discuss in the studio frequently – there’s nothing worse than something that looks nice but doesn’t work, it has to be practical, it has to serve a purpose, it has to do it’s job. From knowing how our client moves around a kitchen, to their gym routine, down to how fabrics feel against the skin and what they convey is crucial to producing an excellent design and we pride ourselves on constantly dissecting what we’re developing in the studio to question the practicalities for each individual clients needs as well as the aesthetics.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2017 and beyond.
5 Key points – Invest in quality, well-made product without compromising for a ‘quick look’.
Don’t be swayed by ‘trends’, they will come and go, but good design has longevity.
Pare back and refine. One exquisitely crafted piece can hold a room, just because budget may allow doesn’t mean one should fill, fill, fill.
Switch it up, some high street brands are producing good quality pieces, just because it has a Label doesn’t mean it’s great.
Don’t be frightened by colour, neutrals are coming back to the forefront with the trend of Hygge and the return to British handcrafted pieces from bare materials, which is great but it doesn’t mean you have to forego colour and stick with pale greys and off whites.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
The design is in the detail and this is what we excel at here at Dunning & Everard. With good design, it’s not as noticeable, it just ‘feels’ right and it takes a wealth of experience to ensure every element is accounted for and thoroughly planned out, but bad design is instantly noticeable and one overlooked element can ruin an entire scheme.
How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
I think the Industry is one which naturally could be very isolating as each design studio is busy squirrelling away working at pace to achieve everything for our clients and it’s always a case of head down and get the work done, it’s not as glamorous as the media would have the public believe! The International Design & Architecture Awards are a great platform for Studios to put out there what they’re about and showcase what they’re doing, and it’s good to share ideas and feedback with each other, I think it’s a great way to encourage our peers and an opportunity to say good job!
What projects are you currently working on?
We’re quite busy at the moment! But a few favourites on the board currently are a beautiful Grade II listed Country Manor House, a world class Racing Stud Farm, a large contemporary Barn conversion and a Victorian town house in London.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
We have some exciting projects in the pipeline as well as the ones we’re currently working on, our growth as a company has been considerable in the past few years and we’ve only recently tapped into social media as a tool for putting ourselves out there. But of course our main aim is to keep providing the high level of service to our clients and creating Interiors that enhance their lives exponentially.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
My husband and my children
Your favourite holiday destination?
Coco Point Lodge, Barbuda
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
I’m not a lover of hotels, I prefer to take a house, however I love Casacau in Rome (see Mr & Mrs Smith).
Restaurant – Erimitis, Paxos, Greece
Bar – The Cuckoo, Hampshire
Your favourite book / film / song?
Book – War and Peace, Tolstoy
Film – Doctor Zhivago
Song – Happy, Pharrell Williams (we dance in the kitchen to this) and Bach’s cello suites.
Your favourite food and drink?
Food – everything my husband grows in our garden.
Drink – my sons Mojitos.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Watching my son playing rugby, then playing a round of golf with my husband and children finishing off with a drink in The Cuckoo.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Anything else interesting?
I have combined a career over the past 30 years whilst bringing up 7 children. I have always played sport – squash, tennis, golf, skiing and riding are my favourites and my husband and I have encouraged our children to do these too whilst growing up. Travel, entertaining and being with people you love are the best ways to expand your designer outlook. Interior design is just so much more than putting together a few colours and fabrics, it can be a life changing experience if your clients are willing to take the design journey with you.