Tamsin Johnson: Outside The Lines

Show And Tell: above, Johnson photographed at her father's store, Edward Clark Antiques in Paddington, Sydney, wears Lanvin dress from Belinda with Balenciaga shoes from Cosmopolitan Shoes. Night At The Museum: below, the interior designer in a Victoria Beckham dress from Belinda with Marni cuff and Balenciaga shoes from Cosmopolitan Shoes.

  1. with projects spanning from sydney to los angeles, tamsin johnson is drawing on her inimitable style to make her mark on the world of interiors. meet the tastemaker bringing order, colour and family-friendly designs into her clients' lives

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  3. Photographer  Hugh Stewart  |  Editor  Victoria Collison
  4. Hair and makeup  Isabella Schimid  |  Interview  Natasha Inchley
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Your aesthetic, while traditional, is charged with a rich kind of sexiness. How do you strike a balance?

  1. I think the lack of balance is more important than the balance. I always choose things that I like but also suit the client.  I think it’s important to have a point of difference – and also a sense of fun. A space is designed to be lived in, not to be photographed. I look for a soul in every interior I design; a heart beat that reflects the client.

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  2. Art Partners: pictured with husband Patrick, owner of P. Johnson Tailors and Hector the British bulldog, Johnson wears Victoria Beckham dress from Belinda with Kelly Wearstler cuff and Givenchy sandals from Cosmopolitan Shoes.
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You share a wonderful creative partnership with your husband Patrick – what makes it work?

  1. I admire everything about the guy. He’s bursting with energy and is the most creative person I’ve ever met. He admires that I’m an adventurer, I love seeing things for the first time and exploring new things. I’m not afraid of doing something different and pushing the boundaries. I think he also admires my originality.

CREATIVELY, ONE THEME YOU KEEP RETURNING TO IS …

  1. The past. Everyone seemingly made more effort than they do now. I look to a time when more was more.

Looking back, what ignited your love of good design?

  1. My parents [Edward and Peta Clark] were Antique dealers so my love of good design was inspired from a young age. My sister and I accompanied Dad on buying trips and learned a lot more than we were aware of at the time. I then studied fashion and had a stint at Stella McCartney in London before enrolling at Inchbald School of Interior Design – immediately I knew I had made the right decision.

How do you advise young families on good interior design? Is it possible to still live chicly with young children?

Absolutely, without a doubt it is. I think you just need to let go. The most interesting spaces generally have families and look lived in. You have to roll with it and not be too precious. That said, it's also important to consider a few more practical storage solutions to avoid clutter. Boring but true.

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  2. Sweetness & Light: At P. Johnson Tailors, seated in front of a photograph of Gianni Agnelli, Johnson wears a Marni dress with Givenchy shoes from Cosmopolitan Shoes.
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  4. ON CONVERTING HER HUSBAND'S WORK SPACE, P.JOHNSON TAILORS, FROM AN INDUSTRIAL WAREHOUSE TO A GALLERY-STYLE SHOWROOM:
  5. The idea for P. Johnson Tailors was to create many little cosy worlds without adding any walls. Patch [Patrick] and I also love collecting contemporary art so we wanted a space we could share with everyone who comes through the door. The building was a rabbit warren of partition walls and potential. Natural light is incredibly important in tailoring so I completely opened the space up and made most of the surfaces white in order to keep the space light and airy. I also used soft finishes, particularly carpet and linen, to provide some warmth and acoustic separation.
  1. HER TOP TIPS FOR CREATING A STRIKING SPACE:
1). Comfort – no matter how glamorous a space, it must always feel good to be in. I grew up in a house full of antiques where my friends used to joke about the comfort levels. They called the Louis XV jacquard upholstered sofa in the TV room ‘the bench’, not in a good way, which I always think of when designing a living room. You’ve really done your job when someone wants to settle in. I’ve since found out an interior can be as comfortable as it is beautiful.
 
2). Timelessness – my ideal interior is one that will be as impressive and beautiful today as it will in decades to come.
 
3). Effortless – as a rule in both design and in life I think being natural is always so inspiring, when someone can just trust their own taste and throw something together without too much effort or force.  The ultimate sophistication is not taking it too seriously.

“I think being natural is always so inspiring, when someone can just trust their own taste and throw something together without too much effort or force.” 

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner: above, Johnson wears Alexander McQueen dress from Robby Ingham with Givenchy shoes from Cosmopolitan Shoes, pictured in the refined space inside Guillaume restaurant in Paddington, Sydney. My Blue Heaven: below, Guillaume's private dining room featuring wallpaper by Hermès, a magnificent Venetian crystal chandelier and hand-dyed linen furnishings. Johnson wears Stella McCartney dress from Robby Ingham with Christian Dior earrings.

ON WORKING WITH CHEF GUILLAUME BRAHIMI TO CREATE AN ELEGANT YET COSY DINING EXPERIENCE IN AN HISTORIC BUILDING: 

  1. The feeling at Guillaume is that of being invited into someone’s home for dinner, a minimal setting where the food takes precedence. It has a classic tone with the freshness of an inner city restaurant. I wanted the space to appear as it was always there and not overly decorated, so restraint was the key. You have your own space here, it's not piled-in. It's special and comfortable.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE, DO YOU HAVE PARTICULAR "CODES" FOR DRESSING THAT MIRROR YOUR TASTE IN INTERIORS?

Both my interiors and my personal sense of style certainly inform one another. I think no outfit should be the same look all over – nor should any room. I like both my interiors and fashion to be natural, classic and sophisticated. The best interiors are those put together over time, just like a wardrobe.