Joanna Simpson heads a (nearly) all female multidisciplinary design house with the aim of creating better space through architecture, interiors, furniture and product design.
Did you train as an architect or an interior designer? I trained as an architect, at the University of Edinburgh, which was a magical place to study buildings.
What first attracted you to this career? Growing up my family were always doing a new renovation as my parents bought the next project, so I had lived in six houses by the time I was 14 and I loved it.
You work across both residential and commercial projects – which do you prefer? I love doing both because it keeps everything fresh and allows us to look at both commercial and residential from another lens.
What are you currently working on? We are working on a members club for Dogs which opens this year, this has been really fun and creative. We also have a gorgeous mews house in Holland Park under construction which celebrates British materials and a ruined castle in Lincolnshire where we have expect stone masons starting repair on the original fabric later this year.
I understand you like to work with British natural materials including timber, marble and hides – can you explain the appeal? There is a huge wealth of extraordinary world class materials and manufactures in the UK and I don’t think these are utilised or celebrated enough in the built environment. The leather we use, for example, is used in Aston Martin Cars and our wool in used by Chanel. I love the opportunity to build with local and natural materials, it’s one of the best parts of my job, rooting a building in its location and heritage and celebrating local craft and excellence.
Tell me about your London workshop, what do you produce there? We have a workshop within our studio where we produce bespoke furniture for our clients. We make anything from writing desks to luggage and even a mobile champagne bar. Being able to create things in house and work with materials ourselves, develops our understanding of materials and the limits of tools and craftsmanship. This creates a life circle of learning and evolution as we continually hone our approach and ideas.
What is your favourite possession? My fountain pen, it goes everywhere with me.
Where would you like to visit? I would love to visit Japan, with a copy of In Praise of Shadows in my bag.
You can explore the Simpson Studio shop here