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Meet the guru of nouveau Scandi-chic, interior designer Beata Heuman. From her Hammersmith studio, she expounded her love for Italy and let us in on the world’s best bar along with why colourful, joyful homes are trending.
Sweden-born, London-based interior designer Beata Heuman has turned her back on her design-roots – at least where the out-moded concept of all-white-everything is concerned. Typical Scandinavian touchpoints of colourless walls, white-wood floors and chalky ceilings are scarce among her largely playful, theatrical stylings and colourful constructions.
Whether it’s a kaleidoscopic Chelsea pied-à-terre or a cheerful Sussex cottage, we’ve “pinned” and “saved” an album’s worth of her vivacious designs, which take inspiration, in part, from Swedish folk heritage. Even our dining decisions are influenced by Beata – brunch at Farm Girl (on the semi-regular) is as much elevated by our appreciation of its farmhouse-meets-coastal-California interiors (which Beata designed) as by its cloud-like buckwheat pancakes.
We headed west to visit the designer’s Hammersmith studio and feast over her design space. While there, we unpicked why she struggles to shake her love of Italy and it’s crumbling, slightly mad palazzos, debated over the best bar in the world and ultimately conceded that our collective homes – which pale in comparison (in every sense) to Beata’s – are due a boom of colours and patterns.
Where are you from and how has that shaped or inspired your work?
I was born and raised on a farm in the south of Sweden and I moved to London in my early 20s. I’m currently writing a book about my designs [published with Rizzoli]. The process has made me analyse my work in a new way, and I’ve discovered there are strong Swedish influences throughout everything I do.
Do you feel your style is informed by your Scandinavian heritage?
The clear, vibrant colours I use are definitely inspired by Swedish folk heritage and, while I use movement and curves in my designs, there is always a simplicity to it, which is inherently Swedish. The interest in mythology and use of small, embellished details are influenced by the Swedish grace period, but I also look further back to Gustavian times. Josef Frank is also a huge inspiration for me. He was born in Austria, but he left a big mark on how Swedes – including myself – design their homes.
How would you define your aesthetic?
Imaginative, considered and fresh.
Why do you feel colourful, joyful interiors are so in demand right now?
Trends have a cyclical nature’ they react to what has come before. Every time they reoccur, an aspect of the trend will have evolved, which makes it exciting and new, but the core ideas are often steeped in tradition.
You could argue that the bleakness of the current political climate means that people need more vibrancy, warmth and comfort in their day-to-day life. Another factor could be the way that social media feeds have established a need to create attention-grabbing imagery that will generate engagement. This, in turn, could be affecting how people decorate their homes – the more striking the better.
The design-savvy Insta crowd are all over your feed, but do you get inspired by images you see posted on the channel?
Definitely! With two little children and a business to run, I don’t get as much chance as I would like venture out and find design inspiration in person, so Instagram is a great, accessible place to get ideas.
Farm Girl in Chelsea (which you designed) is one of our favourite restaurants. What other dining spots are on your hit list?
I’m kind of obsessed with The Palomar at the moment – it serves delicious Israeli-inspired food just off Piccadilly Circus.
The best bar in the world is…
How does travel inspire your work?
Whenever I travel, which isn’t often these days because of my little girls, I find it hugely inspirational. Creative thoughts and ideas come from looking at things with fresh eyes and considering a less-trodden path. A change of scenery, as well as experiencing another culture is a very good way of unlocking your imagination.
Three spaces you wish you’d designed…
What are your favourite hotels to visit?
What makes a good hotel?
I don’t like anything with too many mod cons – in fact a slightly dishevelled palazzo is probably my ideal place to stay. In essence, I think you want to escape into another world. Obviously I appreciate an exquisite room, delicious food, excellent service, but ideally it should all have a relaxed, unpretentious air. My absolute dream would be to design a boutique hotel.
What are you working on at the moment?
We just started work on a brownstone in New York which is particularly exciting! We have several special London projects on the go and we are also working on a wonderful townhouse in Rotterdam. We have lots of new products being released for our Shoppa this year and many more in the works; I’m particularly excited about the new fabrics we’re working on.
Tell us about some creative references you return to time and time again.
I look at Josef Frank’s work and that of Vanessa Bell; Duncan Grant’s Charleston is also a source of inspiration. My husband and I went so Sicily for our honeymoon, starting in Palermo and travelled around the coast; I seem to always be scrolling back through the pictures I took – crumbling, slightly mad palazzos are proving to be an infinite source of ideas.
What’s been your career highlight so far?
I love my job and working for clients who appreciate what we do, but it’s always an amazing feeling when you receive industry recognition, such as winning House & Garden’s inaugural Designer of the Year Award in 2018 and being included in Architectural Digest Top 100 list for 2020.
Your home and studio are in Hammersmith; what are some of your favourite local haunts?
The River Café is just down the road from where we live and is perfect for a special occasion. I also pop into The Anglesea Arms in Hammersmith for a delicious weekend lunch. A new favourite place, just a few minutes walk from my house, is Sam’s Riverside – the food is great and it does a mean whisky sour.
How can people add original elements to their home without spending a small fortune?
eBay and Etsy! If there’s a will, there’s a way.
Tell us about your newly launched online shop, Shoppa.
We design everything ourselves and produce all our original pieces with workshops in the UK, Italy and Sweden.
How do you balance residential work with commercial jobs?
For me it’s all about having a spark with the client, so as long as that’s there, I’m very happy to do any type of project. We want to create a full vision, with original and considered details, which I believe enhances your life and makes you happier. This approach probably appeals to residential clients more. I can see how the value of what we do may be a bit lost on someone making a purely commercial decision.
The best places to shop for interiors?
What are you reading at the moment?
Against Design by Josef Frank.
One piece of travel advice…
Never travel without a book and try and only bring carry-on luggage.
And finally, what’s in your SUITCASE?
Having just packed a big bag for a trip to Stockholm, it’s basically stuffed with things for my two daughters – I’ll be lucky to fit in a pair of jeans for myself. Oh, the joys of parenthood!
Beata Heuman will be speaking at London Design Week 2020 at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour on Sunday 8 March.
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