Melbourne and Lorne-based interior designer Georgina Jeffries reveals her affinity with the coast, country and city and how each shapes her intuitive approach to design.
Since establishing her namesake studio in 2014, Georgina Jeffries has framed her work around the unique narratives of coastal, country and city living, aiming to embrace all aspects of Australian residential design. With a firm grasp on how to create and uphold a signature style that reflects this, Georgina’s projects are marked by authenticity, emotion and timelessness; explored through the avenues of colour, materiality and craftsmanship. We get to know Georgina in this one-on-one interview, learning about her life-long passion for design and her formula for building a successful studio.
Georgina Jeffries: Growing up in a creative household with both parents in the fashion industry, I was raised with respect for art and design. I was always very driven, and as a teen started working part-time jobs around school hours. I spent my money on vintage finds from local markets and second-hand shops to style my bedroom. I’ve been interested in design for as long as I can remember, and as soon as I finished school, I discovered there was a course that allowed me to make it into a career.
Who would you say has had the greatest influence on your approach to design?
Georgina Jeffries: My studies centred a lot around an intuitive design approach. I studied a Bachelor of Design at RMIT University and then worked for some very talented people in the industry. My lecturers at university taught me less about the practical day-to-day tools and more about how to think about a project; to ask questions such as “how will people experience it, who will inhabit it, and how does this feel?” I had no idea how to draw up a space when I left, but I had the understanding to listen, question and engage.
What are the benefits of practising out of regional Victoria (Lorne) and Melbourne with a very small team?
Georgina Jeffries: From a design perspective, it opens our studio up to various residential projects. In the city, many of the homes we work on are older-style heritage residences with ornate details, which can be in stark contrast to a modern new build overlooking the ocean. We cater to clients in the city, country and coast, meaning we have a varied portfolio of work that constantly challenges us. From a lifestyle perspective, I get the best of both worlds!
My small team is my family. We work on everything collaboratively, without hierarchy, and have very respectful relationships with one another. We may be small, but my team is empowered to take responsibility and ownership over what they do, and I feel this is the key to achieving successful outcomes.
Could you please elaborate on what it means to “balance poetry and approachability”?
Georgina Jeffries: For our studio, this talks about the dance between beauty and functionality. If a kitchen is style-driven but doesn’t house everything you need to prepare and cook food, it doesn’t work. Considering how a person needs to use a space, how it will be engaged with, and whether this is responded to – that’s a beautiful thing.
What about the way you design now would surprise you when you were first starting out?
Georgina Jeffries: The way I use colour. In the earlier years of my career, I was terrified of using colour and had a very pared-back modern aesthetic. I designed in white and wore all-black. There is a lot of emotion in interior design, and so much of it comes down to how a space makes you feel. Colour is such an important tool in creating mood in spaces.
If you could only use three materials for the rest of your career what would they be?
Georgina Jeffries: Wood, brick and brass.
How do you intend to challenge the status quo of Australian residential design moving forward?
Georgina Jeffries: I would answer this question with something that is at the core of what we do, and that is to create homes and environments that are timeless. We live in a society where everything gets thrown away. A new trend is forecast, and an old style is demolished and replaced. I think the best thing we can do is to design spaces that can be loved and appreciated for years to come; for longevity. That’s the most sustainable way of moving forward.
What have you got in store for 2023?
Georgina Jeffries: We are continuing to work on a handful of special heritage renovations in inner-city Melbourne, as well as a few Victorian and NSW coastal homes. We also have our first apartment development collaboration launching early in the year.
We are always sourcing vintage pieces of furniture and objet d’art for our client’s homes and hope to develop this side of the business further. Travel is a huge part of inspiring what we do, and I’m very keen to get back to Europe and visit the Salone del Mobile in Milan with my team.