Ella Johnston, Creative Director: Talking Design

Ella Johnson talking Design

We interviewed Ella Johnston, Creative Director, about her personal style, her trend predictions, and much more…

How did you get started in interior design?

I’ve always had an interest, but in 2006 I started working as Managing Editor on the M&S Home catalogues where I learnt the rules of styling, product selection and the thought process behind the products.

In 2010 I joined the team on Cath Kidston Magazine where I got to know the creative endeavour that goes behind building such a strong and distinctive aesthetic first hand. Those two experiences really cemented my interest and enabled me to build my interiors blog ellasplace.co.uk and my design and illustration brand Ella Johnston Art and Illustration.

What’s your favourite design trend right now?

Well, I’ve been hooked on the whole house plant/biophilia aesthetic for years now at home and in my illustration work. There isn’t a room in the house that doesn’t have a plant in it and all my spaces look to a deeper connection with natural world.

The up-coming trend I’m really obsessed with is wabi-sabi – a philosophy centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. I love the idea of treasuring things we already have (including its scratches and worn bits) and loving the characteristics of an individual material.

Describe your personal style

I want to be sleek and minimal but I also love colour, texture and ‘stuff’. In truth, I cherry pick from all sorts of trends; from classic mid-century modern, quirky post-modern 1980s design, Japanese minimalism and even the Bloomsbury group and a bit of Victoriana.

Art, design, culture and nature are important to me and my husband and my personal style reflects that and I create the environment to let those elements sing without being too po-faced about it. My living room, dining room, bedrooms and study are painted white and grey and are all filled with statement furniture (mainly 20th Century – from 1950s to 1990s), drawings, prints and paintings we’ve collected over the years and contemporary iconic objects (some fun, some just gorgeous) that are talking points, there’s plenty of plants too.

What’s your number one tip when it comes to starting a new decorating project?

Have a vision and plan around that. Take your time and do your research, so if your design changes and evolves you know that you can stay true to that original spirit and still come up with solutions if certain practicalities (financial, structural, functional etc) get in the way (which they always do).

What are your trend predictions for next year?

I think wabi-sabi (as previously mentioned) will be a big one; it’s one of my favourites because it celebrates texture, tactility and simplicity – things I strive for in my own work. I also think we need a bit of magic in this age of algorithms were technology rules our lives on so many levels. I think we’ll see some more interiors and design that have a spontaneous human touch, that revel in the lost art of surprise. I expect to see intentionally uncoordinated looks where randomness rules – god knows we need it!

Do you have a favourite design show?

I love Pulse and all the graduate shows. I really like looking at new things and I want to be challenged. It’s very easy to settle in the your own design comfort zone so I adore seeing things that maybe initially I don’t like or can’t see how they work. It’s funny how a look you may recoil from at first can all of a sudden filter down and be incorporated in my own work even if it’s just a small element.

What’s your favourite range from Walls and Floors, and why?

I am a little bit in love with the Scintilla Black tiles. They remind me of the church floors I’ve seen in Sienna and Florence plus their worn edges also pick up on the wabi-sabi aesthetic.

I’m also in the process of planning a bathroom renovation for our house. My vision is for a very plain, minimal clean space with soft textures and light colours to make the most of the small space with have. I’m currently contemplating the exquisite Jaipur polished porcelain tiles that I will team with soft wooden finishes for a gentle overall finish.

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