Name: Natalie Stephenson & Juliette Wright
Company: Stephenson Wright Ltd
Position within company: Co Directors
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
Juliette: My childhood was spent visiting endless stately homes with my parents so an obsession with interiors began very early. I recall marvelling at chandeliers and silk walling. It means such a great deal to me now to take my own daughter to these same inspirational buildings. An art foundation diploma and a BAHons degree in Interior Design & Architecture were a natural progression and formed a solid educational grounding.
Natalie: Design has been a part of my life since as long as I can remember, with my mother as an award winning landscape designer and father as a director of photography, we have always held creative thinking at the centre of our hearts. I learnt from an early age to be courageous and inventive with my art and design during my school years and went on to train through a Diploma in Design at the highly recognized KLC School of Design in 2004.
So how did we meet we hear you ask? At Helen Green Design in 2005 when our eyes met across a scheming table and the rest is history!
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
Timeless elegant living. Design that stands the test of time with style injected through our many avenues of inspiration. Often influence can be discovered within the property architecture, the clients passions themselves, our latest treasured finds and our little black book of creative solutions. There is always a thread running through our projects of textural layering, elegant lines and timeless pieces both in the interior architecture and the furniture, soft furnishings and accessories. Often the final layer is the one that makes the project sing, just one piece of well selected art will cleverly tie everything together and finish the story. Our look is varied and considered dependent on where our journey is born from.
We tend to steer clear of products which are too uptight and over designed, for us less is more. The key for us is to create a harmonious balance by adding detail and originality whilst remembering our clients are ultimately going to be living in that space and so the main focus is to maintain comfort and relaxation. Our clients are always happiest if they can enjoy and show off their spaces without feeling like there’s too much pressure to keep them perfect. We ensure our designs are always practical and have longevity. What motivates us above all is when we revisit past projects and our clients are still as in love with the space as they were when we handed them over.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
The true beauty of design is that inspiration can come from anywhere and is everywhere. This is our passion; we constantly send each other delicious images of all manner of things we come across, often acting as a seed for our own designs. Inspiration often comes from a piece of artwork, or pulls from nature, resulting in layering of texture and the incorporation of bespoke, hand crafted pieces.
Design is everywhere if your eyes are open to it – friends are constantly amused how we can suddenly stop in our tracks and remark ‘Oooh that would be perfect for so and so’s project’.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Quality, value for money and thoughtful design still remain true and certainly over the last 20 years we have not seen these core client requests alter.
Clients accessibility to Interior Design imagery and our sourcebooks will continue to push our quest for new and bespoke pieces.
However what will influence design are the tools around it; such as extraordinary technological developments – quickly creating ultra realistic ‘fly through’ virtual reality interiors for clients to walk through their homes before they are built.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2017 and beyond.
- Support – of local artisans.
- Consistency- of quality suppliers.
- Fresh- approach to each brief.
- Pleasure – of the journey
- Integrity- of how to fuse old and new, particularly applicable for our new build 44,000 sq ft mansion whereby we are striving to ensure the finishes and selections have a depth of choice that they stand the test of time and blend seamlessly with our clients existing furniture and art pieces.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
Site measure the furniture – physically stand in the space and walk the room to check everything will fit, then use masking tape on the floor and walls (heights are also important!) to highlight key pieces. It’s amazing what presents itself when you do this!
How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
Recognition is a core component of success and drives us to constantly improve and deliver exceptional design projects. This is an ethos we hold very strongly within SW Ltd. Externally, amongst our peers and potential clients, a leading Award, from The International Design & Architecture Awards, showcases our talent to a wider audience to achieve industry wide recognition, so we approach this with much respect and excitement.
What projects are you currently working on?
- Full interior architecture and design for a 44,000 sqft Private residential mansion being built in Surrey for completion in 2018.
- Currently installing the interior of a 3,000 sqft lateral apartment in Kensington, London (for a Private overseas client) which was completely stripped and refurbished.
- The complete refurbishment of a 7,000 sqft Victorian townhouse in Barnes, London; a two year project for a repeat private client who has excellent taste.
- A quirky Guesthouse in Ham, Richmond
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Continuing to build an inspirational and supportive team, you are only as good as your people.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
Both- Family photographs, often beautifully framed and up on the walls to remind us everyday of special moments captured by incredible artists.
Your favourite holiday destination?
Juliette: South Africa – we have been visiting for 14 years and our hearts are very much rooted there now. Not to mention the amazing Interior inspiration everywhere.
Natalie: The Maldives where my partner and I shared our wedding blessing this year with family and friends is such a unique corner of the world. The vibrancy of colour in the marine life holds the most diverse strength of colour and pattern- just beautiful & breath-taking.
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
Juliette: La Petit Ferme, Franshhoek, SAF Overlooking the valley on a gorgeous sunny afternoon is my happy place.
Natalie: The Mayfair Chippy on North Audley street has the most delicious braised lamb shoulder shepherds pie and lovely friendly staff; besides it’s pretty hard to beat eating in a restaurant that your team have designed and were shortlisted an award for. If you want to discover a hidden gem then its worth searching out if you’re on Oxford street it’s a stones throw away. Plug over.
Your favourite book / film / song?
Juliette: I love the set design, music, costumes and total quirkiness of Moulin Rouge.
Natalie: I am always transported back to my childhood with Direstraits song ‘Romeo and Juliet’ which I do find quite amusing now with my design soul mate sharing the same name, I often sing her a quick love song.
Your favourite food and drink?
Both: A delicious, cool, oaky South African wooded Chardonnay; Maybe from Moreson or Bouchard Finlayson. Natalie has been well and truly converted.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Juliette: With friends and our children in the garden sharing good food, wine and stories.
Natalie: Visiting my mothers garden on a sunny afternoon and enjoying the beautiful space she created with her own version of a natural chalk stream running through which our daughter Amaya is always drawn to like a magnet. Of course accompanied by a glass of wine, my husband and my SLR camera attempting to capture a beautiful photograph.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Juliette: Just cannot even imagine this but I do now (for obvious reasons, see above!) have fantasies about owning a boutique hotel and vineyard.
Natalie: I’d love to have been an artist or sculptor, creating pieces that I could put up on my walls, enjoy and then pass down to my children.
Anything else interesting?
We are both mothers to daughters who are showing early signs of being mini protégés! A strong work ethic is something we hope passes down to them from seeing us build our own business yet also be present for them.