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Open and agile

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HIA award-winning interior designer Jasmine McClelland is one to take new challenges, pursuing her creative flair all the way into a housing industry.

They say if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. This adage may well ring true for Jasmine McClelland of Jasmine McClelland Design, who jumped industries to pursue her creative passion as an interior designer and has met with success ever since.

Q: What drove you to become an interior designer?

JM: Shortly after I began my career studying community development, I realised that interior design was my true passion. Throughout my studies I was constantly redesigning my own home and helping friends and family with theirs as well – it just came naturally to me, and I had always loved beautiful design. Originally, I never looked into pursuing a career as an interior designer because I have always been a ‘people person’. Community development gave me the freedom to pursue that passion and I didn’t want to give that up. But once I realised that I didn’t have to sacrifice my love of working with others to become a designer I moved straight into the industry. 

As I became more established, my work was exposed to a wider audience through numerous award wins and diverse media coverage spanning across ‘high-end’, design-centred publications to the daily newspaper. Consequently, I have been able to meet clients with an extensive range of passions and perspectives, and from varied backgrounds – to me that’s what makes the work so enjoyable!

Q: What does your design process look like?

JM: One of the challenges of designing is balancing ideas and structures with the client’s wants and needs. As a creative industry, every decision is ultimately subjective, so there are no ‘right’ answers. Of course, this is the attraction to working in a creative field, but it also means that you have to be open and agile at every step of the process. 

Any accomplished designer starts with the clients’ vision, and then works with them to achieve it. As the designer, I have the knowledge and experience to bring ideas to the table with the ability to blend components harmoniously together to create a work of art. Working collaboratively with my clients enables us to create an outcome that meets their needs and wants, with a design that’s better than what they could have imagined.

When I talk to upcoming designers, I like to pass down two key pieces of advice: on a macro level, be true to yourself and trust the creative process; and on a micro level, listen to clients, your job is to hear what they say.

Q: How do you manoeuvre your style to suit the client brief? 

JM: I feel some designers find a certain niche and operate within that. Personally, I have chosen not to specialise in a particular genre and instead maintain the freedom to move within a broader range of designs and styles. Being unapologetically client focused means I explore endless ideas based on what our clients want and what we can then imagine for them. That aspect of understanding and valuing our client’s personality is what creates such a unique element to our work. 

Because you are designing a home for a particular individual – a sanctuary built just for them – there are often a few tricks designers can use to create a space exclusive to their style while adding some personality. For example, using neutral base colours that offer an organic, natural feel – such as warm timbers – helps to link the home to the outdoors. Implementing materials and textures, such as those found in Corian products, helps to create versatile and beautiful alternatives to conventional designs through non-linear shapes and angles.

A great way to incorporate personality is through the kitchen splashback. Splashbacks can support and elevate a kitchen design, depending on what you are trying to achieve, in a way that isn’t overbearing. I often use various colours, tiles and patterns to create another layer of interest to the space, giving the design style that we are going for a bit more individuality.

Q: Of all the designs you’ve created over the years, which is your favourite?

JM: This is an impossible question for me, it’s like being asked to pick a favourite child! When I am working on a project that one is my favourite at the time and it’s all I can think about. Being a part of the collaboration process with my clients, making their dreams of the word ‘home’ and all that it symbolises a reality, gives me an insight to what the space needs to provide the owners. The goals I had as a young designer are different to the ones I have now, but one goal that has never changed is making the space comfortable and practical. When considering the design, I think to myself “would I be happy with that outcome in my home”, and if yes, I proceed. 

A key point for me to remember when designing – and other designers need to be cautious of – is that our personal love for particular styles or eras shouldn’t outshine the requests of the client. Instead the two should complement each other. There is always room for creative freedom when bringing various styles, materials, forms and ideas together; it’s just about making them work as one. The reality is you are not simply designing houses, but instead homes for people that brings them joy and peace in their intimate spaces.

Q: Looking to the future, what do you think we will see more of in the home?

JM: There are several things that I think will begin to be implemented into more of my future designs, as well as the designs of others in the industry. 

At the forefront is the impact of COVID-19. There is no doubt in my mind that future design courses will teach new entrants into our industry about the turning point for design created by the ‘COVID-era’. We have never been in our homes as much as we have throughout this pandemic and that’s led to homeowners becoming aware of how spaces really work. This is particularly true when considering that we now have multiple functions for single spaces. 

Secondly, we will see the continued integration of smart home technology as advancements in software and aesthetic appeal progress. The design challenge here is to make sure technology and its supports (i.e. charging stations in every room), remains ‘people focused’ and can be incorporated in a way that doesn’t take away from the warmth, comfort and peace of a room.

In my personal designs I would love the opportunity to bring in more sculptural elements to the creation of everyday spaces. Reimagining where a piece of furniture might sit in a room – curves and lines can make an enormous difference to how a space feels. 

I am really looking forward to seeing what interior designers will achieve in the near future.

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