May 27, 2021 4 min read
A few months ago we were lucky enough to grab Northern star Julie Chambers for a chat about her career as an interior designer. Julie is an absolute joy and her passion is infectious! For those who don't recognise her name, you will certainly recognise some of her local projects in places like Lane7, Joiners Arms Northumberland and, of course, For the Love of the North! If you're interested in interior design or are looking for a quick read with your afternoon cuppa, have a look below to hear more about the wonderful mind of Julie Chambers.
Hi Julie, thanks so much for joining us today, we’re so thrilled to be chatting with you. But, for those who don’t know you, can you explain a bit about what you do?
Hi guys, it’s great to chat with For the Love of the North News, I’m so excited to be speaking about my career. For anyone who doesn’t know me, I'm an Interior Designer. I work mainly with commercial interiors including bars, restaurants and hotels, but I have been lucky enough to work in some high-end residential properties too.
You’re a real Northern star within the field! Were you always drawn to a career in interior design? What was the process of turning your dream into a reality?
Yes, interior design has always been a huge passion for me and I always knew it was what I wanted to do. I studied Interior Architecture at Newcastle College and then went on to work at several architecture practices in Newcastle.
However, it was when I relocated to London that I started to cement my learning into a real career. I ended up working for a lot of Interior Firms, designing hotels and bars. One particularly special part of my job was to forecast interior trends which involved walking around London and looking at bars, fashion and music. This aspect of my job made me fall deeply in love with it and also catalysed my love affair with London. Walking around the streets of London simply absorbing the atmosphere quickly became a hobby and is something that I still practise today.
I also worked for the BBC doing the set design for a couple of tv programmes which I loved too. I came home to Newcastle one Christmas and met Duncan Fisher who changed my life and gave me the chance to go wild on Newcastle nightlife! After that, I began to move away from large firms and companies, my first job set up on my own as Julie Chambers Interior Design was Mr Lynch and As You Like It. I've been an interior designer for twenty-four years and seventeen of those have been working for myself- but honestly, it feels like five minutes!
You speak a lot about commercial interior design, how does commercial design differ from home interiors?
I think home interior is very personal and emotional, whereas commercial is a lot more about fitting a brief.
commercial design is a complex process, you're not only designing different places or venues but you have to design the operation of how the business will run. Commercial design is very concerned with the journey of the customer and the different emotional experiences you can make them feel, for example, staying in a boutique hotel compared to a budget hotel.
Out of all the projects you’ve been part of, which is your favourite?
That’s a hard question, I couldn’t possibly choose because all of my jobs are so important to me. I work for small independent companies mostly, so the clients (the owners) will usually tell me about their business and brand identity. The passion they have for their business is combined with lots of love and hard work from my part to create the interior of their dreams.
Every interior has meant so much to me and has helped to develop as an Interior Designer. As You Like It was a massive job and a huge learning experience at 28 years old. Wylam Brewery was created from nurturing a great relationship with the client which was the same when I was developing the look for the Town Wall and the Bridge Tavern. Lane 7 is where I get to go wild and free -anything goes!
It sounds like a lot of hard work but great fun! But, how do you find inspiration to keep your design updated?
Inspiration comes from engaging with the world around us. Travel, books, eating out and experiencing places and things is a great way to get inspired to create. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, experiencing places is fairly limited to Instagram, but it’s a great substitute for now!
That’s amazing, it’s so interesting to hear your creative process. Would you say that design trends have an influence on this process or do you tend to stick to your own signature style?
I thought long and hard about this. I think I would have to admit that trends are great as they can bring seasonal influences-a bit like fashion, however, you must always be aware of them as they can be here today and gone tomorrow. I think you have to decide which will stay and become a timeless element. Trends are great in measured doses, especially when they’re applied to changeable elements of the design, such as cushions or accessories. You do need to be extra careful when working with commercial properties as they need to sustain the changing trends and fads to be future-proof, while also being ahead of their time!
Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with For the Love of the North News today! Before you go, we have one last question: what does 2021 have in store for you?
Thank you so much for having me! I’ve loved speaking about my passion for Interior Design. 2021 will hopefully be another busy year with the potential of hotels and cabins- I'm very excited of course!
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