Curating luxury for the discerning traveller



Virginia Nicholson, the granddaughter of Clive and Vanessa Bell, said of the interiors of her grandmother’s home, Charleston: “It is art that has jumped off the canvas on to things that you live with: walls, chairs, tables, cups.” The country meeting place for the famed Bloomsbury Group, this 17th-century farmhouse became a testing ground for a new aesthetic – where vibrant colours and patterns intersected infinitely across surfaces, and guests were invited to paint on everything from crockery and furniture to walls and doors. A reflection of the intellectual avant-garde in pursuit of a new way of living, hand-painted murals met Cubist-inspired lamp stands and block-printed linens, meshed together in unconventional combinations that challenged the the stuffy style of contemporary decorative trends. 

A century on from the heyday of Charleston, Nicholson’s quote could just as easily describe the work of interior designer Beata Heuman, who is building on the Bloomsbury Group’s pioneering work with her own free-spirited approach to design. Like Charleston, Heuman’s practice shuns the fashion for homogenous contemporary interiors, and instead reflects the unique character of their inhabitants. “Slick, minimalist interiors aren’t true to human nature,” she explains. “We are like magpies – the objects in our lives are an accumulation of everything we’ve experienced. I think that needs to be reflected in the rooms we live in.” As a result, each of Heuman’s concepts are rich with individual character and detail – an exciting blend of bold colours, vivid patterns and old with new. “It’s really important with residential design that it reflects the client’s personality,” she says. “I don’t think you could do this job unless you are interested in people and psychology.” 

Mar 1st 2017

Creating something completely unique requires a broad-ranging directory of contacts, carefully assembled over Heuman’s 12 years in the industry. “It’s important to source from lots of different suppliers,” she says. “I don’t like things to be too matchy.” This means taking the time to seek out pieces from places as diverse as auction houses, design fairs such as Decorex, and even Instagram. When the perfect piece can’t be found, Heuman has it made bespoke and can even incorporate her own line of textiles and wallpapers to add an extra flourish. One of her most popular designs features a motif inspired by the swirling psychedelia of marbleised paper, and it has been used to both upholster furniture and to paper walls to add an extra injection of character. 

Mixed together, these bold and eclectic statements create a sense of spectacle that is unique to Heuman’s interiors. Cabinets wrapped in cloud etchings meet giant geometric floor tiles and pink leather chairs in a medley that on paper could sound strange but, filtered through Heuman’s creative lens, become irresistibly beautiful. These unusual combinations and the sense of the extraordinary they create is something Heuman deliberately cultivates. “I loved creating secret fantasy worlds when I was a child,” she explains. “I think that’s why I like my work to be slightly theatrical or fantastical – it helps create the sense of another world, where people can relax and feel removed from the stresses of reality.” Inspiration for these imaginative interiors is varied, from Russian literature (“books demonstrate how we are affected by space – really good fiction pinpoints what interior designers are trying to do and give it meaning”) to designer and artist Josef Frank, who also hailed from Heuman’s native Sweden. Like Heuman, Frank relished unexpected visual meetings – from minimalistic furniture upholstered in ornate patterns to natural forms in psychedelic colours. “It’s nice that his designs are both simple and functional, but decorative,” says Heuman, whose own work is as much about function as form. “I like to consider storage and where things are going to go. If you’re going to have a scheme with more colour and whimsy to it, you don’t want it to look messy, so it has to be easy to put things away.” 

Heuman also considers how her interiors will continue to function once her job is done. “You have to make sure the client can maintain the space and it works day-to-day as they live their lives,” she explains. “People are going to accumulate more things so I need to create a backdrop they can add to.”

Throughout Heuman’s diverse portfolio runs a desire to continually innovate her craft. “Josef Frank spoke a lot about not being wedded to one style,” she says. “My training with interior designer Nicky Haslam (for whom Heuman apprenticed for nine years) also taught me that it’s important not to keep repeating the same ideas.” As a result, Heuman allows her projects to evolve organically, taking time to outline initial plans but leaving room for client input and discovery along the way. “Our clients tend to like us because we’re approachable and collaborative,” she explains. And it is undoubtedly thanks to this approach – coupled with an ability to marry bespoke design with a touch of the surreal – that enables Heuman to create interiors that are both rich with personality and full of life.




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