Inspirationist exclusive: Interview with Jayne Furniss: co-founder of Furniss & May design agency

After spending a combined 35 years in the industry, Jayne Furniss and Simon May felt the time was right for a new kind of design agency, so they set one up in London and put their names on it. In their approach to design they focus on the desired emotional response and work backwards. They do retail, leisure, workplace and residential projects. They understand space, believing that inspirational environments create powerful responses, they understand their clients’ businesses by coming up with solutions through seamless collaboration and they understand people by forging strong and trusting relationships which allow effortless ideas to flow.

We sat down with co-founder Jayne Furniss and found out what Furniss & May brings new to the London design scene:

© Candy Murray

We had high hopes when we first met F&M and they exceeded them on every measure. They created a vibrant, creative office environment which everyone loves and which really does work for us. They truly understand space and materials. And they work to time and within budget. – Tom Simpson, Managing Director ‘Simpson Carpenter’

INSPIRATIONIST: Where are you from and where do you live now?

Jayne Furniss: I am born and bred in Sheffield, my whole family is. I moved to London in 2000, in-between travelling the world and living in Australia. I am now settled with my husband in South East London. My business partner Simon is from Newcastle, so we’ve created a bit of a Northern company in the South!

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INSPIRATIONIST: What’s your background?

J.F.: I have a BA Honours in Interior Design and Architecture.

INSPIRATIONIST: How did you fall in love with architecture/design and why?

J.F.: Creativity is in my blood! It was all I was ever interested in as a child and at school it’s where I excelled. I don’t come from a creative family, but I was always encouraged to follow my dreams and passions. Following a 1 year Art Foundation course I decided that Interior Design was for me and have never looked back. It was really that simple.

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INSPIRATIONIST: Where do you spend most of your time, and what does a typical day for you entail?

J.F.: Most of my time is spent with clients in and around London or with our designers at our studio in Elephant and Castle. Every single day is different now we run our own business. We can be creating concept visions, styling a photoshoot for one of our completed jobs, pitching a new scheme to a group of excited clients or working with contractors on site.

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INSPIRATIONIST: What is your favourite part of your job?

J.F.: Without a doubt I have two favourites; creating concept visions and meeting new people. I absolutely love the relationships we build with our clients. We don’t have a single client that we now wouldn’t consider a friend. Building a strong and trusting relationship is absolutely vital in everything we do.

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I absolutely love the relationships we build with our clients. We don’t have a single client that we now wouldn’t consider a friend. Building a strong and trusting relationship is absolutely vital in everything we do.

INSPIRATIONIST: What does Furniss & May bring new to the design agency scene in general and the one in London in particular?

J.F.: Wow that’s a tricky one.  We treat every single job as unique, each client as an individual and we listen. In our approach to design we focus on the desired emotional response and work backwards. Our aim is always to create a space that our clients absolutely love and brings their vision to life.

INSPIRATIONIST: Can you describe an evolution in your work from when you began until today?

J.F.: Our work is always evolving especially with the materials we work with, to create unique elements within our design.

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INSPIRATIONIST: If you had to choose one single architect/designer who has provided a source of inspiration for you personally – who would it be and why?

J.F.: I really can’t pinpoint a single architect or designer who has inspired me on my journey. I am inspired by people every day and I have learnt so much from the people around me. I am always interested in the way in which others approach design, their work and also how they communicate. These insights have formed who I am today.

© John Stewardson

INSPIRATIONIST: Which is your favourite building/interior?

J.F.: I don’t have one favourite building, it changes all the time. Last year my husband and I went to Colombia and Panama on our honeymoon. I fell in love with all the buildings in the Old Town in Panama. I have a huge passion for travel and am always inspired by  new places, colours and textures.

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INSPIRATIONIST: Which of your designs is your personal favourite and why?

J.F.: I love our work for Diffusion Mat, Harvey Nichols. It was a real collaboration between Simon and myself.  The materials and simple detailing transformed the department. We’ve also just designed Stretch Yoga Studio in East London, this required a new approach in the way we design. We love having such diverse clients who keep us on our toes!

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INSPIRATIONIST: How do you unwind?

J.F.: Having fun with friends and family. Eating out. I try to travel as much as I can, that clears my mind and then fills it with ideas again!

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INSPIRATIONIST: What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?

J.F.: Re-record Not Fade Away – YESKING

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INSPIRATIONIST: What is your favourite colour?

J.F.: No idea actually. I don’t have one. I love greys and pastel colours, but not one in particular.

© Seb Barros

Read also: Furniss & May create a timeless, open backdrop for Jarrold’s women’s fashion and shoe lounge

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