In conversation with Stephenson Wright

By Elspeth Pridham
April 30, 2020

Natalie Stephenson and Juliette Wright founded their interior design business Stephenson Wright in 2013, here they discuss creative collaborations and the joy of potato printing

When was the business founded, and why?
It was one of those things that was always going to happen – we are extremely connected intuitively with a shared passion for Interior design and looking after clients. In 2013 after many years of working for top London design studios in creative managerial positions, and after having children (conveniently at the same time) our vision became a reality.

How many staff?
We are four very focused staff, with freelance talent tailored to a project as and when required. Being a boutique practice, we have the option of being selective about the projects we take on – from experience, we have found that the smaller projects are often as time consuming as the largest ones. The team purposefully only runs 2-3 projects at any one time, thus focusing our complete attention on the clients at hand. We believe that design and decisions are best approached together as directors, and important challenges often benefit from more than one angle to aid in the resolve. For example, Juliette tends to have the intuitive vision for the overall style direction and an eye for detail, whereas Natalie is more business led and managerial, creatively pushing boundaries and integrating colour and interesting materials into schemes to make the projects the best they can be.

Where is it based?
Our Studio is in Surrey – we both live in the area – but we go wherever the clients are whether that’s London, the Cotswolds or the Algarve.
Our studio is very close to our newly launched luxury lifestyle showroom The Post House which is a collaboration of like-minded experts within the same luxury market and a collective ethos. The showroom involves one owner – a lighting designer – and six further collaborators (a window treatment specialist, a bespoke joiner, an audio-visual specialist, a garden designer and yours truly).

What is your latest significant achievement/project of note?
The full design of a 44,000 sq ft private home which we designed the interior of from the ground up. This included 12 bedroom suites, 7 kitchens (including a prep kitchen suitable for a michelin star chef), 27 toilets, 9 living areas, indoor parking for 38 supercars, cinema, wine cellar, a billiard room, a spa area including sauna, gym, plunge pool, steam and pool, garden & morning rooms, bar overlooking the garage and 2 dog showers for the pampered pooches.

The design was creatively inspired and our best yet, it showcases entire rooms of floor to ceiling classic walnut panelling, vibrant colours and an incredible collection of art.
No stone was left unturned – hours were spent pouring over joinery details, scaling of furniture combinations and the art of layering contrasting finishes and lighting to give character to the interior we were trusted to create.
The new build is currently in its final phase of installation and has been four years in the making – it has taken us to quarries in Italy, the finest spa hotels in England and wonderful workshops all over the country where we have built strong bonds with super talented artisans. An amazing journey which we are extremely proud of.

What is your favourite possession?
Both of us are pretty sentimental so it’s unlikely we’ll be able to choose one thing! Photos would be up there and objects passed down through the family with personal significance attached to them for example the embroideries Juliette’s mother did at art college and reels of film from Natalie’s film director father.

I’ve just discovered…
Hilariously we’ve both found enjoyment (during the recent lock-down period) through block printing using the humble potato. Inspired by Molly Mahon, who’s fabrics we have in our own homes, and ink marbling, inspired by Inq. These are both craft related so shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. The added benefit is we get to do this with our children.

Who inspires me…
J – Our clients. We love working on projects with interesting clients. They really do make the design journey unique and fascinating from beginning to end. We are very proud of our incredibly diverse work; each client brings a new opportunity to creatively explore different aesthetics, and we have been lucky to have been given real freedom of expression.

N- Our design community and the platforms that we interact on, be that Instagram, WhatsApp and now Zoom. There is no greater power of mind than feeling the positivity and energy of like minded individuals commenting on your work, pouring out their creative thoughts into one space and asking for advice and tips. We are grateful for our network and the friendships that have blossomed via social media.

I’ve always been a fan of…
J – Buildings with history – my childhood was spent visiting endless stately homes, so my passion for interiors actually began very early.

N – Mother nature and her array of warm colours and finishes – textured wallpaper always creeps its way into our schemes as it has the power to instantly surround you with softness. With my mother being an award winning garden designer she inspired me to study interior design after finishing my degree. I loved the transformative nature of her work and wanted to do the same but without enduring the cold of being outside for most of the year- incorporating nature into interior design is my way of combining the two.

My highlight of the last 12 months…
Our collab showroom The Post House – a beautiful, home-like oasis, which we designed to be the most comfortable space to inspire and relax. As well as offering up something of a playful party spot with a bar – naturally.
It was the perfect excuse to design our furniture range The Parcel Collection – again with comfort and materials at the forefront.

My next design trip is to…
J – The States – if we are ever allowed out of the house again! We use a lot of product from the US and our energetic suppliers would be the perfect tour guides with an added design thread.

N – I’ve been longing to return to Ibiza to experience the barefoot luxury that the white isle exudes so well. Hotel design is one of the most enjoyable ways to gain inspiration on all sorts of levels. For me there’s no better place than in the sun, with a breathtaking view and a large glass of rose.

A note on the current COVID situation.
We have been busy raising funds for the NHS alongside organising 100 ‘bags full of thanks’ to show our appreciation and gratitude to 100 nominated Surrey NHS workers. We wanted to deliver colour and joy to the doors of those working tirelessly in our hospitals and care homes Surrey wide. We have included a limited edition tote bag with art by author Hurrah for Gin, two beautiful vibrant plants, a face shield and a copy of the May edition of local magazine Surrey Life. More information on how to nominate someone who lives in Surrey can be found on our website