"Designer Blackjack - Justin Van Breda . . . "

Justin Van Breda


Pull a new chair up to the table . . . we're dealing in a new player to our the game.  Welcome Justin Van Breda from the UK to SMW Home's Designer Blackjack (where we ask 21 insightful questions to find out more about them!) . . . known for his incredible collections of furniture and textiles, his charming personality, and his height!  

Let's find out a bit more about him . . .

1)  Tell me about the house where you grew up?

Went to boarding school so it was a row of 20 iron beds and lockers- ......  my mother and father always had lovely homes filled with a mix of old and new; but it was my granny who was the style icon in the family.
2)  When did you realized that your future was in the interior design business?
After 5 years at university I decided to study architecture, and went to interior design college to put an application portfolio together- but after just 3 weeks I realised that this was the right thing for me.  
Justin Van Breda - William Dining Table
3)  How and where did you learn about the interior design?
Design Time School of Interior Design in Cape Town.  
4)  How did you start your business?  
I wanted a shop showcasing the very best of everything about interior design that was coming out of South Africa at the time, and so I opened on the Pimlico Road in London, and it developed into a furniture and fabric collection. 
Justin Van Breda - Giovanna Dressing Table with Mirror
5)  Tell me about your ideal client.
My ideal client is a mix of two of my current clients- the I have done 5 houses for each of them,  they know more about certain design subjects than I do- one is particularly knowledgeable on 1950-1960 art; they trust my ideas and taste; they push the envelope and they push me, they demand the best I can do and they tell me so.  I love them and they have become firm friends.
6)  How do you begin designing one of your projects?  What's the first step in your process?
I am quite strong on plan, i think, and then i design while sketching in perspective.
7) What was you best client feedback . . . and maybe your worst client feedback - lol? 
The best was leaving a house installed for a client and the message I received was whooping for joy on my phone- i saved that voicemail for a long time; and the other was a twelve year old girl who burst into tears of joy when her room was installed.  That was a lovely moment. 
The worst was when a client asked me what I would do in my own home when the incorrect stone was installed by the contractor, and I said I would rip it out, and the husband of the client said he just wanted to throttle me- he could have lived with it....
Justin Van Breda - Watercomb Dining Table
8)  What one piece of advice would you give any new designer?
Listen- you think you know everything after college; but you don't- so harness your enthusiasm and become a sponge and absorb as much as you can.  Also, never take the seat next to the client at the table leaving your boss down the other end! (that was not me)
9)  Tell me a bit about your favourite project!
The rattan collection with all these wonderful designers who I collaborated with . 
There is this amazing London penthouse I have done three times and might be about to do a fourth- it keeps being sold and the new owners keep asking me to redo it.... its fun reinventing something you already did. 
But I think my favourite is a house I did in Greece- it was early on in my career and it challenged me and the outcome was amazing.
10)  Tell me about that one mistake that you will NEVER make again . . . ?
11)  What are you working on right now?  What new projects are in the pipeline?
A new incredible collection of upholstered furniture and we just released a rattan collection handwoven by the blind in South Africa. 
Lightning Round . . .

1)  Favourite Wallpaper? My Dining room- custom John Constable- Wivenhoe Park 1815 
2)  Favourite Movie?  Monsoon Wedding
3)  Favourite Iconic Room?  The whole of Nicky Haslam's Hunting Lodge- had happy weekends when I worked for him and was thrilled to pick up some things at the auction and I think the interiors will become iconic of English Decorating.
There are a couple of rooms in minor German palaces I refer to a lot.
Is it a cliche to say the Yellow drawing room by Colefax?  
4)  Favourite Podcast or YouTube Channel?  There are a lot of great podcasts out right now, but I am loving listening to lady In Waiting by Lady Anne Glenconner
5)  Favourite Textile?  Abimilech Ainsworth worsted wool - they are a mill up in Scotland and we used to use their red worsted wool by the roll
6)  Favourite Car?  Defender 
7)  Favourite Movie Star (past or present) ?  anything with Anthony Hopkins
8)  Favourite Meal?  Roast chicken
9)  Favourite International Destination?  Cape Town- going home. 
10) Favourite Piece of Furniture - My Grace Cabinet

Keep up with Justin -



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