Design & Style
26 March 2021
Design & Style
26 March 2021
“Tamsin and I have a fairly similar approach [to design],” says Patrick Johnson, fashion designer, tailor and founder of P.Johnson Tailors. “We focus on design that isn't forced. It's very natural, personal and stands the test of time.” Patrick is referring to his partner, Tamsin Johnson, a talented interior designer, and the design philosophy they share. “That doesn't mean it has to be boring or overly minimal. It can still be interesting, engaging and a bit unexpected.” Tamsin agrees, “We like to create things that look like they belong and have always been there.”
Tamsin and Patrick create unique, bespoke designs; so this idea of timelessness is a philosophy that puts a client’s needs first. For the Johnsons, ‘things that look like they belong’ is as much about synergy and intimacy, as it is about smart design. “We both design everything from scratch for clients,” explains Patrick, noting that 95 per cent of his work are one-of-a-kind pieces. “In my case, I create wardrobes that make people's lives easier and help them express themselves. And for Tamsin, she does this for the spaces people spend their life in.”
“So much of what we do is getting a feel for what people like, while putting function first,” says Tamsin. “It’s about working together and lots of communication — it really is such a slow but wonderful process.”
In a world of fast fashion and furniture, this Sydney-based duo is making a case for the long game. Their work is inherently sustainable, crafted for an individual’s life to be lived-in.
“Tam and I talk a lot about this idea of ‘empathetic listening’,” explains Patrick. “We ask our clients a lot of questions and try to pull back the layers of who they are and what they need. And that can be tough — because with Tam’s work you’re dealing with someone’s home and with mine, you’re dealing with people’s body. So, the biggest thing is just listening.” This, Patrick points out, requires an open mind and a somewhat malleable approach to one’s own design language.
“The best clothing is clothing that looks like it is part of the wearer. They’re comfortable, don’t look like they’re playing dress-ups and it’s an extension of themselves,” he says. “I have the belief that anything can look good if it's executed correctly and made for the right person in the right way.”
While fashion is an outward-facing form of expression, interiors are the most private and intimate. With a background in antiques, a style that has been described as ‘refined eclecticism’ and connections to makers, artists and dealers around the world, Tamsin is as much a hunter and gatherer as she is an observer.
“This is where people sleep, live and create – I spend quite a lot of time getting to know my clients,” she says. “If it’s a couple, a lot of what I do is working out their tastes, personalities and how they complement each other. I think that is why people engage with an interior designer. It’s my job to listen and merge that to create something sympathetic to what two people like.” Both designers agree that this intimate, human-first approach is the same worldwide, whether they’re working with clients based in Berlin or Byron Bay.
If design-centred television shows and the international fashion week runways are to be believed, a designer’s proudest moment is ‘the great reveal’ of the finished product and the client’s immediate reaction. But Patrick and Tamsin prefer
“When I’m out and about and I see someone wearing my garments in a really, natural way, that is the most satisfying moment for me,” says Patrick. Tamsin agrees, the biggest compliment and measure of success for her comes when a space evolves. “When people entertain in their space, that’s a proud moment. It’s not directly about me, the designer anymore, but about how they use their space and share it with others.”
“It’s so refreshing to sit down with someone and have them create something just for you, rather than them saying ‘no, you have to dress like this.’ It should be ‘cool, let’s find your aesthetic!’” says Patrick.
“We've been working with some clients for years and what they want changes over time, so you go on that journey with them. Because, at the end of the day, it's their journey as much as it is yours… Figuring out your aesthetic shouldn’t be forceful or intimidating. It should always be fun.”
By Noelle Faulkner