SIG­NA­TURE FEEL

Tam­sin John­son’s lat­est project is an evoca­tive study of the LIGHT­NESS AND EASE in­trin­sic to her aes­thetic. Here, she shares how it re­flects the evo­lu­tion of her ethos.

VOGUE Living Australia - - Contents - By Ver­ity Mag­dalino Pho­tographed by Sharyn Cairns

Tam­sin John­son’s lat­est project is an evoca­tive study of the light­ness and ease in­trin­sic to her aes­thetic. Here, she shares how it re­flects the evo­lu­tion of her ethos

Stand­ing in the calm, so­phis­ti­cated liv­ing space of a Vic­to­rian-era home in the leafy en­clave of Syd­ney’s Wool­lahra, Tam­sin John­son de­clares her de­sign ethos as nat­u­ral and with­out pre­ten­sion. It’s a de­scrip­tion you could equally at­tribute to the wo­man her­self. “I would rather a sig­na­ture feel than a sig­na­ture look,” says the Mel­bourne-raised, Syd­ney-based de­signer who’s cur­rently bal­anc­ing an im­pres­sive 15 projects both at home and in­ter­na­tion­ally, as well as two chil­dren younger than three years old. “I like cre­at­ing spa­ces that don’t look overly de­signed — spa­ces that are com­fort­able and look as though they could have al­ways been there.”

John­son’s ap­proach has led to a suc­cess­ful port­fo­lio span­ning res­i­den­tial, re­tail and hos­pi­tal­ity spa­ces. Among her most renowned works are a re­fresh of Rae’s on Wat­e­gos, By­ron Bay’s re­treat for glo­be­trot­ting bons vi­vants, and Playa, ac­ces­sory de­signer Lucy Folk’s first Syd­ney con­cept store — an all-pink, In­sta­gram-gold mo­ment in Bondi. She’s also re­spon­si­ble for the look and laid-back feel of hus­band Pa­trick John­son’s epony­mous tai­lor­ing busi­ness, de­sign­ing the in­te­ri­ors of his bou­tiques in Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, New York and Lon­don.

Her most re­cent un­der­tak­ing — this two-level, four-bed­room home, deftly ren­o­vated by Syd­ney ar­chi­tect James Gar­van — is an ex­pres­sive case in point, with its lofty ceil­ings, pops of pas­tel-hued fur­nish­ings, one-off an­tique finds and el­e­gantly arched door­ways. So, what does she love about this par­tic­u­lar project — and her work in gen­eral? I come from a fam­ily of an­tiques deal­ers. Hunt­ing down orig­i­nal, unique pieces for my clients has been in­grained in me. I try not to use the same pieces twice and source from a net­work of deal­ers around the world. I rarely buy lo­cally. I also de­sign a lot of cus­tom pieces my­self, such as up­hol­stered bed­heads and light­ing. Noth­ing makes me hap­pier than a client and fam­ily who truly love their home. I love spa­ces that feel new and have a re­fresh­ingly mod­est set­ting but are lay­ered in his­tory — spa­ces where aes­thet­ics and beauty are sec­ondary to func­tion. This home be­longs to a young fam­ily with three chil­dren un­der the age of five. They are avid art col­lec­tors, have im­pec­ca­ble taste and love en­ter­tain­ing. They’re as un­der­stated as they are so­phis­ti­cated and didn’t want the house to feel too ‘grown-up’. They es­sen­tially wanted a home that was unique to them — full of beau­ti­ful things and at the same time live­able and com­fort­able. ››

‹‹ en­tered The colour the space scheme and is very took tonal, into sub­tle con­sid­er­a­tion and warm. the When client’s I first art col­lec­tion com­mon spa­ces and the are a light lovely in moody dif­fer­ent white, rooms, and the it bed­rooms made sense. are The soft colours Nearly with ev­ery con­trast­ing de­tail in ceil­ings the house and tim­ber­work. is cus­tom-made, from the stonework to the hard­ware and even the Perrin & Rowe tap fit­tings, which are in a raw nickel so they’ll age nicely. The kitchen bench­tops are in a pale traver­tine teamed with white­washed oak cab­i­netry that has cus­tom cut-out fin­ger pulls. I also de­signed all the rugs. I think they give a sub­tle Art Deco con­trast and in­tro­duce the right amount of colour into each room. The big­gest set­back was when the Mu­rano glass chandelier that was in­stalled in the en­try fell and smashed into a mil­lion pieces. The traver­tine floor still has scratches on it. It was a real tragedy. I bought the chandelier from Nicholas & Alistair in Mel­bourne. I think they thought I was jok­ing when I told them. They couldn’t be­lieve it! The chairs by Fritz Neth are my favourite pieces in this home. I dis­cov­ered them in New York. They’re aes­thetic per­fec­tion — a lit­tle pocket of com­fort and near im­pos­si­ble to find. I am in­spired by na­ture and the past — be it art or fur­ni­ture, movies and film sets. And I get in­spi­ra­tion from day-to-day life. My clients also in­spire me: the way they live, and the way they go about their day. Then there are the ar­ti­sans, con­trac­tors and builders with whom I work. There is never a short­age of in­spi­ra­tion. It’s how to fil­ter and cu­rate it that mat­ters. My de­sign heroes in­clude the French Mid-cen­tury Mod­ernist Ge­orges Gef­froy, who I like for his lay­er­ing, and British gar­den de­signer Rus­sell Page. I also adore what [Bel­gian de­signer] Axel Ver­vo­ordt and [French in­te­rior de­signer] Jac­ques Grange do, Gio Ponti and Le Cor­bus­ier, and many more. And, of course, [Syd­ney in­te­rior de­signer] Don McQual­ter, with whom I had the plea­sure of work­ing for many years, still in­spires me. The big­gest change in de­sign over the past few years is the speed at which im­ages are shot and shared. This means de­signs can date as fast as they ap­pear, which makes it even more im­por­tant to prac­tise re­straint and avoid trends. Go­ing and watch­ing for­ward, my per­son­ally, an­gels grow I’m up. look­ing Pro­fes­sion­ally, for­ward I’m to en­joy­ing more see­ing travel an­tiques come back into fash­ion. Good things are al­ways good.

“I am in­spired by na­ture and the past — be it art or fur­ni­ture, movies and film sets… There is never a short­age of in­spi­ra­tion. It’s how to fil­terand cu­rate it that mat­ters” tam­sin john­son

THIS PAGE in the liv­ing room, 1930s French ebonised side­board; cop­per wall lights from Nicholas & Alistair; Laugh­ing at Your­self Be­cause YouCan’t Let Go (2017) art­work by Tomis­lav Nikolic. OP­PO­SITE PAGE in an­other view of the liv­ing room, cus­tom sofa, mar­ble cof­fee ta­ble with stain­less-steel mir­ror base, ce­ramic vases and cus­tom rug, all by Tam­sin John­son; Fritz Neth chair; Tac­cia lamp by Flos; Anna Charlesworth pen­dant light; Ital­ian mid-cen­tury wall lights; cus­tom Tam­sin John­son mir­ror; Cut Paint­ing (Yel­low)(2018) and Cut Paint­ing (Pink) (2018) art­works by Huseyin Sami from Sarah Cot­tier gallery. Flow­ers by Christelle Scifo, Fleurette. De­tails, last pages.

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