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Jeffreys Interiors

Designer in Profile: Jo Aynsley, Jeffreys Interiors

Jeffreys Interiors have been shortlisted for Regeneration/Restoration Award in The International Design and Architecture Awards 2021. Read more about Head of Interior Design, Jeffreys Interiors, below:

Name: Jo Aynsley

Jeffreys Interiors

Company: Jeffreys Interiors

Position within company: Head of Interior Design


Tell us a little about your background in design:
My interest in interior design started at a young age; constantly changing the layout of my room and begging my mum to redecorate.

Following Textiles studies at Newcastle College of Art and Edinburgh College of Art, I knew Interior Design was where my passion lay, and I started to look for opportunities in the industry.

First, I secured a short-term placement with an independent building contractor and interior design company in Northumberland. On return to Edinburgh, I was lucky enough to meet the owner of Jeffreys Interiors. I managed to bag an interview and began assisting the Design Director, Alison Vance. Alison had relocated from Ireland after running her own practice and shared some great lessons learned working with David Hicks. Six years later, after working on a large range of residential and commercial projects, I am proud to have taken the reigns in leading the design team.

How would you describe your personal design style?
Colourful, eclectic and a little zany in places. I am very happy mixing antiques with contemporary furniture. The interior needs to make you smile and feel great.

Where does your design inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from art and colour combinations. Studying textiles and the backstories behind those patterns has pushed me to think outside the box. But really it can come from anywhere; pictures, a beloved piece of furniture, literature, or even a scrap of fabric can inspire a whole design.

In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
A view of sustainability for sure. I don’t think anybody in any sector can or should ignore this any longer but I do understand the challenges, especially where traditional printing and weaving techniques are concerned.

I am glad to see clients’ are becoming braver, choosing to design their homes exactly to their taste, as opposed to having half a mind on re-sale. This allows us to create much more personal interiors rather than a ubiquitous scheme.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.
Sustainability – this is something we all need to figure out together.
Buying Local – we have felt such support from our community during the pandemic – people are learning that local, independent businesses mean greater variety and personal service.
Client Education – It helps us when our clients see value in good design. We need to help them understand what goes on behind the scenes, where products come from (and why they cost what they do).
Client and supplier relationships – the best design is done when you are working as a team.
Talent Spotting – it’s important to give new designers and makers the chance to shine and develop their business, style and flair.

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
Don’t be overly precious when designing for residential. This is someone else’s house you are curating and whilst we are there to guide them and push boundaries, don’t take it personally if they dislike/ disagree with certain pieces. I usually find the design develops into something better when they push your boundaries back.

How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
It is a great platform in which new and emerging talent can be seen alongside some of the great names in the industry. It’s an honour to be considered alongside globally recognised designers, and it’s important to show that there is excellent design happening outside of the big cities.

What projects are you currently working on?
A hotel in North Northumberland
A wedding venue in Northumberland
Glamping pods in Northumberland
Large Residential family home in Edinburgh
Conservation redevelopment of a church in Edinburgh and Glasgow
Contemporary office spaces built with shipping containers in Edinburgh
Residential design in Qatar
Residential design in London

What was your favourite project to work on and why?
Recently we completed an eclectic family home in Edinburgh. We took this 4 bedroom house back to the bones and restored it very much to the couples character. It has a confetti coloured staircase adorned with artwork both modern and traditional. A huge Mr Brainwash painting hangs in the vestibule on Philip Jeffries horsehair ombre gold leaf wall covering, while the walls in the study are upholstered in a lilac silk with a candy-coloured Murano glass chandelier. The whole house is eclectic, decadent, and highly personal – exactly how we like to design.

We started this project in December 2019 and scheduled the couple to move in in May 2020. We continued to work through the house during lockdown as it was empty, and the couple moved in in August 2020 – it certainly kept me busy through lockdown.

What was your most challenging project to work on and why?
Yester House, in Gifford, East Lothian – Grade A listed mansion house. I started working on this project back in 2014 as a design assistant with our then design director Alison Vance. It was the largest project Jeffreys Interiors had undertaken, but we were ready for the challenge. The clients were very involved which ensured we built up a close working relationship which had a positive impact on getting all the interiors to their taste. The project was 4 years in the making, 2 design meetings a week with the client and project team, numerous lighting schedules, drawing issue sheets, blood, sweat and tears, but it was completely worth it. Every time I visit the house, I still feel an overwhelming sense of pride that we are now part of that building’s history.

Which products/services could you not live without when designing?Our extensive fabric and wallpaper library which we have spent years building up to the biggest in Scotland. It is not so easy to nip to Chelsea Harbour when you are miles away from London. I also love how readily available inspiration and information is found online. I can spend hours absorbed in magazines, on design pages, websites and scrolling through Instagram’s design community.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Survive Covid with a strong team and healthy business intact!

Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:

Your most treasured possession?
A vintage fur coat inherited from my Granny. My cousins and I used to spend hours dressing up in Granny’s clothes yet this one was always my favourite.  

Your favourite holiday destination?
Bali – to chill out and to explore all the amazing furniture and hand carvers on the island.

Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?
Como Uma Ubud – Bali. So calm and serene with the best spa

Your favourite book, film & song?
Lord of The Rings trilogy. I must watch all three films every other month.

Your favourite food and drink?
Aperol Spritz with a large helping of Tiramisu

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Curled up in front of the fire watching the horse racing or Formula 1 with a good book and a glass of red wine.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

I have thought a lot about this – not because I want to change careers, but because I genuinely love my job. I am obsessed with shoes so could totally see myself as the next Christian Louboutin/ Sophie Webster.

Anything else interesting?
I have “elvish” tattooed on me because I am such of a Tolkien geek… Let’s hope that’s what it actually says!

Jeffreys Interiors

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  • Samuel Heath

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