Swedish-born, British-based designer Beata Heuman got her start working under Nicky Haslam. Her interiors are imaginative and fun, yet deeply stylish, and reflect the lives and personalities of their inhabitants. She can design small spaces and grand homes, she’s tried her hand at hotel interiors and, more-recently, has launched a selection of her own products for purchase via her website.
How did you first get interested in the design? In your own words, what are some of the signatures in your design aesthetic? I have been interested in design and interiors for as long as I can remember. I was obsessed with my doll’s house as a little girl and was constantly re-arranging my room. If I saw a piece of furniture that I liked, I used to make a drawing of it. In terms of signature, I think there is a constant curiosity to explore different themes. I’m not that precious about the exact expression. I’m designing homes for individuals, and the most natural thing seems to be being very open to different ideas.
What are some of the trends you’ve noticed in home design? I don’t like thinking about trends, probably because it takes away from the uniqueness and individuality of an idea. It’s disappointing when you feel like you have an original take on something only to realize that it is in fact a trend.
BUT. There are lots of different strands, a big one for me is the “homespun look.” I find handwoven tablecloths from the 1800s and turn them into say a pelmet or a chair cover. When you design say a hotel you have the opportunity to push a concept.
Craft and quality are essential to what you do and you often create bespoke pieces within your designs- can you tell me about a few specific standout pieces? We recently made a games table for a client, with a leather insert top and little pull out coaster holders. Chic and decadent at the same time! I’m also really excited about an armchair and a sofa that we are about to launch on our Shoppa. The design is light yet super comfy.
How do you balance creating something that is both timeless and cutting edge? I’d love to think it’s cutting edge at times but I’m not sure that’s true! I have spent my life learning about the rooms we live and have lived in. With time you get a feeling for tradition, so that even when you are presented with a new set of rules, like when you’re working in a new country, you can pick up on customs quite quickly. The underlying theme is this understanding, and drawing from it. You are then free to take risks within that. Without risks it gets pretty dull in my opinion!
I read one journalist who described you as having a “desire to both beautify and meticulously organise” as if these were contradictory—how do you bring these two things together? They definitely go hand in hand. If a space doesn’t work practically it feels difficult no matter how beautiful. There is a certain crisp orderliness at the heart of everything we do. I find it calming and refreshing.
You once described designing as being as much about logistics as it is creativity—can you expand on that? Thousands of componements come together in every home we do. Ensuring everything is at the right place at the right time is a huge logistical operation. I’ve always enjoyed this part of the job. It’s incredibly pleasing when it all falls into place as planned.
Your design eye has been described as “forensic.” Tell me a little bit about developing that and how you stay inspired? I’m curious about the world around me, and that is a never ending source of inspiration. The more you learn the richer life becomes which is one of the best things about getting older!
Your rooms are designed “to reflect the lives and personalities of their inhabitants”—What is your process, how do you come to learn about your clients and how do you ensure you represent their individuality in your work? I meet with them and ask questions and try to get a feeling for who they are, what they like and what they want. I really enjoy this part of the process and I’ve always been interested in people and personalities. These days when someone first contacts us it’s normally because they like something they’ve seen in our previous work. It speaks to them in some way. I actually think that having a connection is absolutely key for the success of a project. There needs to be chemistry for it to work.