Interview with John Evans - John Evans Interior Architecture & Design Ltd
Hello! Can you tell us about yourself?
Hi my name is John Evans and I am principal Designer and Director of John Evans Interior Architecture & Design Ltd.
We are interior designers with an interest in the perfection of internal space within living environments. The projects we work on are usually large scale residential, starting with space planning, and working through every element of the project to completion.
We also have a retail design Practice under the name of Je+1 which specializes in the design of Retail Stores. Je+1 has a specific interest in the internal layout and presentation, from space planning and layout design through to visual merchandising.
The reason that there are two sides to my work, is that at the age of Twenty three I opened my own Interior design based shop to concentrate on residential interiors.Due to the success of the presentation of the displays I was asked to design exhibition spaces for the companies I traded with. This side of my business grew into designing stores for major retailers.
Leading me some years later to split the business, into Residential and Retail.
What's your backstory and what attracted you to design?
I was attracted to design through a love of modern art, I love the balance and forms created by talented artists, and I am a collector with a wide and varied taste.
I realized early in life that I wasn’t cut out to be an artist. Fortunately, I discovered design, in particular Interior design which incorporated everything I was interested in.Balance, form, and function.
What do you love most about designing?
The new challenges that every job brings.
Who, for you, has been the most influential designer/designers?
Jean-Michel Frank a French Interior designer 1895-1941. I have a book about this designer and I am in awe of his designs. In the book there is a particular illustration which shows furniture in his shop in Paris. The photo is taken looking outward to the road, and the only thing that gives you a pointer to the date of the photo are the cars in the street. The photo was taken in the 1920s.
His furniture and designs are as relevant today, and truly inspirational, working with artists like Giacometti, and designing to compliment the art collections of clients with works by Picasso, Leger and Matisse.
Where/how do you find inspiration for new designs?
I am influenced by everything.
As a designer, I feel it is my duty to be aware of current trends as well as influences from periods in history. Everything we do as human beings influences and changes the world we live in; we need to monitor and adapt.
Designers I feel have always been on the forefront of change. I am normally fairly decisive in the decisions I make, but if I get stuck for an idea, I wander down the office and look at the work going through, read a magazine and generally think about something else. That is when a solution presents itself.
Describe your approach to functionality v aesthetics.
My personal preference is for Modern classical design which doesn’t date, having talked about jean-Michel Frank, some of the furniture designs he created are still being used in modern interiors today. That is inspirational, and a driving force in for the Interiors that we design.
The old adage about form following function is not a bad one in my opinion, I am not a fan of over designed interiors that don’t work, and I would always prefer well planned well executed interiors that work.
When designing interiors for clients it is essential that we achieve the best for their interior in accordance with their requirements. It is they, after all, who are going to live in their home, and it has to be about them. Designing for clients is not an ego trip for the designer, though I do feel it is our duty to advise the best course to take, to achieve the best for them.
Furniture Design by John Evans
Describe your approach to choosing/using colours.
I love using strong colours when appropriate, I love the drama that can be created by the use of dark colour tones especially as a backdrop to pictures, Dining rooms I feel are rooms where dark colours work particularly well.
I always advise caution when using fashion led colours, as by their nature they date quickly. If they are to be used, make sure it is not costly to change them when you tire of them.
I always advise painting the cornice skirting boards and all the timberwork in the room the same colour as the walls, leaving the ceiling a shade of off white to compliment the wall colour. This can do a wonderful job of making the ceilings appear higher.
How are green awareness and the increasing popularity of eco-friendly products affecting the design process(now, and in the future)?
I think that taking care of the planet is a responsibility that we all share. As designers, we have a duty to design in a responsible way and at our practice we take this very seriously. Just as we have to take into account Health and safety issues, we have to consider the use of materials and natural resources.
Take us through your process of designing for a client.
It depends on the type of project we are asked to look at, but in the case of residential work, we generally don’t charge for the first meeting as this involves getting to know the client and the project scope. If possible, we like to walk around the building and get a feel for the existing spaces and type of property. In the case of a new build, this is not possible, so we go through Architects plans and talk to the clients at length regarding what they are hoping to achieve from the work to be carried out.
We ask clients to send us any research they have carried out with regards to the look they are hoping to achieve. We also ask if they can send us any dislikes, this is to try to get to know their taste. Sometimes it is possible to look at their existing homes and gather information, but this doesn’t always help, as very often the reason an Interior designer is engaged is to change direction and achieve a new look. Taking an accurate brief is essential if you are going to engage with the clients wishes.
If plans aren’t available for an existing property, we have to commission a measured survey. Most of our work includes some form of space-planning and structural alteration, so it is essential we are working from accurate dimensions.
With all residential properties we quote for an Initial presentation, this can take different forms depending on the project, but generally includes:
Space planning and creating mood boards which convey the look we are envisaging.
3-dimensional computer-generated walkthroughs which allow the client to tour the completed project.
Once any changes are agreed and completed to the client’s satisfaction, terms for the completion of the design work are discussed and agreed. Any other consultants needed on the project are appointed.
Detailed working drawings and schedules for all parts of the project are started, ready to issue to contractors and other consultants. Work is managed by our office to completion.
Many of our projects take several years to complete and are very involved, so detailed management is required.
What do you like to hear people say when they view your work?
I like people to be pleased with our work, after all it is their home, and they are going to live in it. I like them to be engaged with it and feel comfortable with the design we have produced for them; I want them to feel that we have helped them to achieve what they were hoping for when they first engaged us.
It is lovely to look at the 3-dimensional images and the finished project and see how similar they are. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know we have achieved what we said we would.
What is your all-time favourite design (yours)?
I think it is difficult to pick out a favourite design, but of course it is always easier to work on my own home as it is pure in design to my taste and ideas. It is easier to be more experimental and try ideas out. My wife and I have very similar tastes and so it will have to be my favourite design.
Through real-life design projects, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I don’t think that throughout life we ever stop learning.
I learn something new on every project we undertake, such is the nature of our work, that technology and boundaries of what is possible change rapidly.
Because we are in an area of design that is influenced by fashion, we have to be aware of what is current, and if possible, what is coming.
The best decision I ever made was to be self employed and work as a designer.The biggest lesson I have learned is that the only way to be successful is to not forget that as well as enjoying the creative side of design, you need to concentrate on running a business.
What interesting projects are you working on right now? And what does the future look like?
We are currently involved in one or two interesting projects; our projects tend to be large scale and as such are spread over several years.
We are currently engaged on a project adding two large extensions to a listed building, together with creating an under-ground complex of games room, cinema, cocktail bar, wine cellars and tasting room.
Above this a large conservatory with curved roof is being added to the property.A pool house is also being constructed with sitting room, gymnasium, sauna and steam room, kitchen, and an outdoor covered barbeque area.
This has been a really interesting project for lovely clients who want to create unique interiors that reflect their personalities.
Another interesting project is for a major charity working on a new build multi-purpose development spread over eighty-two acres of ground. The site includes a visitor centre, a six hundred seat auditorium, residential apartment blocks, offices, health centres, swimming pool, changing facilities and a sports hall. Again, lovely appreciative clients.
We also have some interesting future projects on the horizon which will hopefully come to fruition next year.
Our long term goals are to continue to work on great projects for people that appreciate our work.
Where can we go to learn more?