LOCAL MUSE: LUCY JEFFRIES, JEFFRIES STUDIO

While working with interior designer and architect Lucy Jeffries earlier this year, I admired her style, deeply collaborative process and philosophy of designing for real life. From commercial projects like Hello Smiles Dental to homes, Lucy’s crisp and breezy aesthetic strikes a refreshingly calm mood. I wanted to share her story with you, how she has built a creative community and her reminder that our mums are often wiser than we give them credit for!

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Not your usual dental practice—Lucy’s work for Hello Smiles Dental. All images by Cathy Schusler.


Tell us about your studio and how it came to be …

Well it's a long story ... I have loved interior design and architecture since I was little. I used to draw house plans in an exercise book and obsess over my mum's decorating magazines. After a short-lived attempt at a science degree (what was I thinking?!), I decided to study interior design. But mum, in her wisdom, suggested I study architecture and perhaps "I could do both". Which, as it turns out, wasn't bad advice! It has been 12 years since I started my first job at an architecture practice, and in that time I have had the privilege of working alongside some of the best residential architects in Brisbane.

In late 2015 I decided to take the plunge and start my little business, and I haven't regretted it for more than a few hours at a time!

What is your design approach?

It might sound obvious, but 'active listening' is a big part of how I approach client projects. Although the design invariably ends up with a 'Jeffries Studio' flavour, I always design for my client and not for myself. A lot of what I do is simply problem solving, and the best solutions are informed by a solid understanding of the client’s brief and personality, as well as the site conditions and context. It is a dynamic process and no two projects are ever the same. I love people and I get bored without new challenges to tackle, so it really is the perfect job for me.

Who or what are your creative influences?

I’ve always been a sucker for post-war houses from the ‘50s and ‘60s, but lately I’ve been finding myself looking to robust suburban architecture from the ‘70s and ‘80s. There is a lot of work happening in Australia right now that is wonderfully responsive to context. Architects Kennedy Nolan have a lovely way of responding to the character of existing buildings and neighbourhoods—their work is at once sensitive and bold, and it gets me every time!

I tend to focus more on local and interstate architecture rather than what is happening overseas, but I am very interested multi-disciplinary practices like Lievore Altherr and Doshi Levien who work across the intersection of product, furniture and interior design.

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A look inside some of Jeffries Studio’s recent projects. All images by Cathy Schusler.

We recently collaborated on your new brand. Why was branding important to you?

In the absence of a physical shopfront, a strong brand does a great job of telling the world who I am and what my business is about. And I feel it is doubly important for a design-centred business to have a spiffy brand ...

What did you take away from the branding process?

Before workshopping options for my brand, you (Frankie) took me back to basics to clarify the vision and personality of Jeffries Studio. I would say that you woke me up to the fundamental importance of brand positioning and strategy in building a viable business. But I am only just getting started—following Studio Neubau on social media is a constant reminder that branding is not something you do once and cross off the list … it is more like a garden that should be tended to on a regular basis.

Having just started your own studio, what tips would you give to for other creative entrepreneurs ready to build their own practice?

Don’t stay at home, unless you are beating off the work and money with a stick! There is a lot to be said for building a community on social media, but it’s nothing if you’re not connecting with real people face to face. Seek real friendships with like-minded creatives and make the effort to be generous and helpful—there is plenty of opportunity to go around, so there’s really no need to be cagey about sharing ideas or resources unless you want to paint yourself into a corner.

What’s next for Jeffries Studio?

I’ve recently started working on the design for a new house for my parents in collaboration with Chris and Allana of Bones Studio. If all goes according to plan, it should come out of the ground in late 2019 or early 2020. My present folio of work is predominantly interior design, so I am looking forward to fleshing it out with some more architectural projects.

What would be your dream project?

I’ve already experienced my dream project—a full refurbishment of a late ‘50s modernist house for some brilliant clients. So now my dream project would be to fully refurbish and decorate a home that has a few decades under its belt and a gorgeous established garden or natural setting. Either for a client or for myself, I'm not fussy ...

Where do you go to get inspired?

Brisbane has a vibrant little architecture and design community—there are always talks or events to go along to. My office is in the heart of the James Street interiors precinct, so I’ll often take a walk to a furniture or textile showroom to get some fresh ideas. I love the steady feed of design fodder I get from Pinterest and Instagram, but the full experience of architecture and interior design is immersive and sensory, so I try not to be glued to a screen all the time.

 
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