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.”