Humphrey Munson Interviews Janine Stone
Originally published on the Humphrey Munson blog.
Janine Stone & Co initially began as a company dedicated to designing luxury elegant interiors, now nearly 30 years later the London based company has grown into something truly incredible. A true powerhouse of multi-talented professionals with skill-sets including architecture, interior design, construction and project management that allow the company to undertake all design and construction services in house ensuring that their projects run like clockwork. Janine Stone & Co work on projects of all shapes and sizes from historic listed English properties to Mediterranean villas creating exceptional work without exception.
We caught up with Janine to find out how it all began…
What is your background in design and why did you decide to set up Janine Stone & Co.?
My mother was a dress designer and my father was an artist, so my childhood was filled with really quite beautiful things including fine furnishings, exotic fabrics and ornamentation. This early exposure to art and craft had a huge influence on me and I think this led me to my eventual career choice. My father also branched out into interior design projects, and eventually, I joined him in this venture, he was inspirational to work alongside and his artist’s eye always informed his work – these early learning on the job experiences have had a big impact on how I work and approach a project.
I was fortunate to be able to travel extensively with him throughout Europe working and learning, it was some apprenticeship! I observed that my father always worked hard to develop a close network of artisans which underpinned his business. And today; I continue to follow that ethos, working with my design team, trusted craftsmen and suppliers to bring something quite extraordinary to clients.
What was the first project you worked on?
My first standalone project was a small house, which comprised creating a logical flow of space throughout the house, simplifying the decorative scheme to create a sense of harmony and calm, bringing practical solutions to bathrooms but ensuring they were elegant and making the kitchen space more dynamic with the movement of some walls and new window and door treatments. From there, it was personal recommendations from potential clients who liked my approach to design and workmanship, then it was about building up a body of work that would begin to take me to the next stage. That was 1987 and here we are some 30 years later.
For someone who doesn’t know what Janine Stone & Co does, can you explain what you do?
I am very proud of the journey we have taken and today Janine Stone is perhaps one of the UK’s foremost architectural and interior design & construction practices, we undertake everything for a client ensuring that each element is truly bespoke and will bring something quite unique to the client. We primarily work in the private residential sector for discerning clients who desire to live elegantly and live well. The scale of our projects vary from the major restoration of a period country estate to the refurbishment of large and smaller London town houses some with subterranean pools, spas and gyms to simpler projects which embrace the furnishing, lighting and decoration of new build apartments and houses. It’s as simple or as complex as the project dictates, there are always challenges and it is very satisfying to take a project from conception to completion. I am not alone on this journey: there’s a highly skilled team of architects, interior designers, craftsmen, project managers, technicians and builders working with me; each dedicated to creating truly distinctive work which will endure. The company works in central London and the Home Counties and we have completed several international projects across Europe and in the US.
What has been your most imaginative project to date?
I would have to say that each commission provides great opportunities to explore your creative talents and draw out the very best in yourself, but there is no single stand-out project because frankly, they are all unique, and if I look back on my body of work whether it is the Grade 1 listed country estate in the Channel Islands which we completely restored from the bare brick to the quite beautiful interiors you see in these pages. Our full service architectural, interior design and construction services were utilised to bring the project to completion – there’s something almost stately about that particular house.
The charming Grade 1 listed country house in Oxford complete with a 13th century undercroft was a demanding project which required sensitive restoration throughout whilst ensuring a highly liveable home was created with all the modern technical advancements that make it a 21st century gem. There is always a tendency to make your current projects the favourite focus because you are bringing new learning which underpins your experience. But nothing beats the feeling of creating an exquisite home for an appreciative client, it is tremendously satisfying and its probably why I love my job.
Your portfolio is full of spaces that are both beautiful and comfortable, what is your secret to achieving this liveable luxury?
Because we take full responsibility to deliver the project from conception to completion which in reality means overseeing each and every aspect of the architecture, interior design and construction stages; this ensures we can produce the very best outcomes for our clients. Like a Michelin starred restaurant where each part of the experience is curated, I also place great importance on really listening to my clients and working to understand the way they want to live in the space. That for me is key, combined with a heightened sensitivity to comfortable living, making a space work hard, ensuring light and shade in the colour treatments play has a huge impact on a scheme and of course, keen observation of the finer decorative details that make a difference. This is how we work and this ethos sits comfortably with our brand promise – Exceptional without Exception.
No one has a typical day, but can you describe a day in the life for our readers?
Every day is different; from client meetings where we are sharing our ideas and plans for client’s homes, facility visits to suppliers and artisans and team meetings to discuss everything from a fit out to the packages of an installation. There are the all-important site meetings to progress our works alongside meetings with new clients, some evening gatherings and industry events to attend and working with my marketing colleagues to tell our story.
My husband is the managing director of the firm and that has been amazingly beneficial in how we work. We have a completely different skill set; I focus on the creative side of the business working closely with my team of designers and architects, and Gideon in his role, brings all his business acumen and experience to bear on the company. It’s a great partnership and together, we also make time to travel and that’s where I undertake research to draw inspiration for both existing and new projects, we regularly travel to the continent and the US and South America. Finally, we try to ensure we dine out regularly when in London or Cheshire, we love to explore new places and enjoying wonderful food is a good way to do that. My favourite restaurants in London include Zuma and Tamarind and a new find is Park Chinois in Mayfair, sensational almost Vietnamese food, so delicate. It would be true to say that no two days are the same…
From concept to completion, which is the most challenging stage of the project from your point of view?
Each project is akin to embarking on a new journey, and along that road there will be ‘challenges’ whether it’s planning, heritage considerations, or getting the right result that I envisaged. But that is a part of creating something new and vibrant. Developing a project which travels through the very first ideas, the planning stage, solving problems along the way and delivering something that will have an uplifting and enduring effect on a family is a big responsibility, but alongside my creative personality I am pragmatic and I think this aids the process of creating and delivering a memorable home.
Could you share a few of your best tips for any readers embarking on a project?
If you don’t have the luxury of space, then the selected use of wall mirror treatments will cleverly trick the eye and open up the room. I tend to use subtle antique mirroring but for a clean modern finish, a plain mirror finish will work perfectly well and give the space air to breath.
Be mindful of the right proportions when placing standalone furniture. The right size and shape for the right space is my mantra, it makes for a harmonious interior which feels right from the start.
For more information about Janine Stone, or to see more of their project, take a look here.