A mecca for mid-century residential architecture is undoubtedly California. We speak to Sydney based interior stylists Justine Hugh-Jones and Katrina Mackintosh about the design finishings you need to consider when dreaming up your very own Golden State inspired spaces.
Can you tell a little bit about yourselves?
“Hugh-Jones Mackintosh consists of Justine Hugh-Jones and Katrina Mackintosh and a talented team of designers. We founded a bespoke high end residential design practice which is deliberately boutique in nature so both principals can be involved in every detail of every project. We have worked like this closely together for 10 years, both of us are trained interior designers with a combined experience of 40 years in high end residential design. We are a very tight team which allows us to work on every detail of a clients project while at the same time allowing our individual skill sets to shine through.
This is a point of difference that we offer – other interior design firms will not be able to offer both principals to be constantly involved as you would mainly work with a senior designer.
We believe we are quite unique in the Australian marketplace as an interior designer company who can offer clients such a trusted level of award winning design with a high level of customer service. We understand and respect that this is exactly what our clients want who come to us and entrust us with their project.
We have both deliberately chosen to specialise only in high end bespoke residential design projects. It’s what we know and love and our approach to design is totally holistic and focused on creating beautiful homes.
We believe in delivering beautiful, bespoke solutions to our clients who value a personalised interior enriched by art, vintage pieces and the character considered curation it brings. By listening and guiding our clients through the process, we create ergonomic, practical and aesthetically satisfying spaces with a real sense of connection that speaks to their lives now and into the future.”
Image – Supplied by Hugh-Jones Mackintosh
Would you say you have similar design styles?
“We have similar design philosophies however we are two individual people so our clients benefit from both of our design aesthetics….these are very much aligned and rarely different.”
What have been some of your favourite projects to work on/career highlights?
“We have recently completed a home in San Francisco. We worked on this remotely during the pandemic. This was a challenging and exciting opportunity to work on an international project without a site visit and the extra challenge of converting our designs from centimetres and millimetres to feet and inches! We worked on the build and furniture selections with incredibly trusting clients via zoom. With the borders re-opened we were able to travel to install the furniture last month which was lovely to meet our clients in person after working with them for nearly two years on a computer screen. We look forward to photographing the project later this year.”
What is the most important thing to each of you about what you do – your sense of purpose or guiding light?
“We have an innate skill in understanding the power of good design with well planned, functional, practical and beautiful spaces. We believe in delivering beautiful, bespoke solutions to our clients who value a personalised interior enriched by art, vintage pieces and the character considered curation it brings. By listening and guiding our clients through the process, we create ergonomic, practical and aesthetically satisfying spaces with a real sense of connection that speaks to their lives now and into the future.”
Where do you go to feel inspired?
“Travel is always a constant source of inspiration for both of us. We are very much looking forward to more of this now our borders have re-opened.” Katrina’s Inspiration comes from sunny, warm, relaxing beach holidays with the family, while Justine’s Inspiration is nature, bush walks, yoga and meditation.
Image – Hidden Byron Bay, Supplied by Hugh-Jones Mackintosh
What do you think is the reference pinnacle for mid-modern century style and why?
“Designers and architects were eager to develop new ideas that married the mass production and technology invented during the first half of the 20th century with a more optimistic outlook for the future…and now we feel we are all reflecting, searching and aspiring to a similar outcome.
Inspiring mid-century Architects, John Lautner, Richard Neutra, Charlotte Perrinand and Patricia Urquiola, a current architect, furniture and product designer who finds unexpected connections between the familiar and the unexplored. Merging humanistic, technological and social approaches.”
What advice would you give to someone wanting to re-fresh their home, office, or any other space?
“Choose great art. Some examples of mid century inspired photography… Kate Ballis, Samantha Everton, Julie Blackmon, George Byrne. Another great option would be to use vintage inspired fabrics for cushions or upholstery.”
Image – Courtyard House, Supplied by Hugh-Jones Mackintosh
What do you love about mid-modern century style?
“Vibrant colours, graphic shapes and patterns, integrating indoor and outdoor spaces. Rich, saturated + earthy hues reflect the hand crafted organic nature of mid century design.Individuality, beautiful and bespoke”.
What about joy and lighthearted moments, how would you incorporate this into your styling?
“We love creating experiences within the home to share with family and friends. These experiences may be associated with wellness and mindfulness – jewel coloured steam rooms, gyms and yoga/ meditation spaces as well as an indoor/ outdoor connection to nature. We also love to design social spaces such as extensive wine cellars and our clients own personal ‘small bars’ within their homes.”
Image – Harbourside House, Supplied by Hugh-Jones Mackintosh
There is a youthful transcendence to the mid-modern style, would you say that’s why people are still embracing the aesthetic?
Nostalgia – it is vital to us that each project feels like a home from the word go, with an in-built sense of history. We like to draw out our clients vision and express their character with unique objects and vintage furniture pieces.
Sustainability – ‘Fast’ furniture has a lasting negative impact on the environment and often made with poor quality materials. Vintage furniture is hand crafted, built with superior materials, more distinguished and immediately available. A vintage chair recovered in new upholstery gives it a new lease on life. We all need to live more responsibly within our homes noting that our decisions will have an impact on the environment today and tomorrow.
Individuality – Using vintage furniture in our interiors creates unique, stylish and one-of-a kind pieces creating highly personal spaces”. I love the connection to nature in this style – how do we see this come across through interior design elements? “It is an essential relationship and especially so working on projects in all parts of the world. We are blessed with amazing outdoor spaces whether they are costal, rural or urban.
We design indoor and outdoor space in one cohesive vision, and we try and bring each space equally into the other by carefully selecting furniture and finishes that relate to one another. We love working with natural materials and an earthy muted colour palette which links the two areas together visually. From a space planning perspective we also consider the natural flow and movement of people between these areas and the placement and size of the furniture and objects is also carefully considered.
What are the colours you should look out for when styling with mid-century elements into your home?
“Earthy mustard, ochres, green, blues and terracotta…..HJM’s favourite colour palette!”