John Stefanidis established his design practice in Chelsea in 1967, attracting a discerning international clientele with his carefully considered, vibrant and beautiful transformation of homes worldwide. He currently works on a consultancy basis and is passionate about cultivating his design blog, ‘The Developed Eye.’ We were delighted to catch up with the peripatetic Stefanidis in his London home.
Q. How do you describe the Stefanidis style?
A. I do so many different moods…it’s a question of climate, atmosphere, ‘genius loci’. I did the most beautiful yali on the Bosphorus, all in Ottoman style; but at the same time I can do contemporary… What is most important is ‘The Developed Eye’, which is also what I call my blog. At one time I did not like antiques and period decoration and design. I was a fan of modernism; you learn and this trains your eye.
Q. How does travel influence your style?
A. Travel awakens your curiosity and opens and develops your mind.
Q. How do you evaluate your own designs? What are you aiming for?
A. You always feel you could have done more.Some designs are more complete than others, depending on the client. One of my aims is to inject colour into interiors. I am against the monotony of beige and grey. I begin with research, looking through art books and volumes on interior design.
Q. How does the client influence the design? What questions do you consider when you meet new clients and undertake a new project?
A. You begin by having clients describe everything they need. How many members there are in the family, how much storage is necessary, whether they are collectors, if they have artwork or antiques they would like incorporated into the design. If they would like the style to be more or less formal. We then create drawings with samples and colours showing every aspect of the exterior and interior design. These architectural renderings can be used throughout the project. We have built a house in Portugal from comprehensive drawings and a house in Dubai with total FF & E specified (furniture, fixtures and equipment) incorporating the client’s own furniture, books and antiques, cataloguing everything to be included.
Q. What is comfort?
A. Good bathrooms, comfortable armchairs, good light, cleanliness.
Q. What is a ‘timeless home’?
A. How can you have a ‘timeless home’? It’s bound to change! Even a stately home changes from generation to generation. But we do aim for designs that do not date and you can achieve this by not going to extremes or following fashion. Seek the eclectic – or aim for minimalism if that is what represents comfort to you.
Q. How do you deal with modern technology?
A. I love it! I long for a walk in a chill room, but I don’t have the space! Lighting changes all the time and you have to keep up. LEDs have revolutionised lighting design with cool light.
Good music systems are essential, but it’s ridiculous to have elaborate audiovisual systems that are complex and become outdated as soon as they are installed. But the bigger the TV, the better, as I myself go to the cinema less and less and prefer to watch DVDs at home.
Q. Is there an element of surprise in the Stefanidis style?
A. I hope so! Have you seen my books? I often use paint effects and trompe l’oeil – from painted lace to faux wood-grain – even an image of a full size horse in one house, to general surprise and delight.
Q. What’s the next step in interior design?
A. There is no next step. We don’t recognize trends until they are on the wane. Everything is travel and cultural references. You will always be inspired if you keep your eyes peeled, consider what is needed, use references in art, and design books to create the developed eye.
Q. How did your own range of fabrics and furniture evolve?
A. Through need. You want a particular fabric for a client and can’t find it so you design it yourself. I now have an archive of over 700 furniture designs and I’d love to launch an e-commerce site soon. The entire archive of my designs, including my blog, has gone to the Bodleian. The majority of my fabric designs have been sold to Tissus d’Helene.
Tissus d’Helene specialises in the finest artisanal wallpapers and fabrics, including hand-blocked or hand-screen prints, silks, linens, hand-embroideries and velvets. The striking John Stefanidis fabrics can be custom-coloured for specific design projects. Visit their showroom at 421 Design Centre East, Chelsea Harbour, London SW10 0XE. Tel 00 44 (0)20 7352 9977 http://www.tissusdhelene.co.uk/
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