Storytelling through interior design

Insight into how creating narrative helps my interior design process


Helena Harrison

9/2/20234 min read

Storytelling is at the heart of my interior design process, drawing on a Fine Art background I am often compelled to build narrative in the expression of my designs. I am passionate about interior design and the way people engage with a space. Beam Design interiors are always unique and individual to every project. I hope to inspire clients and those who engage in the space by enabling them to go on a journey, albeit metaphorically.

When I first met my client of the Peckham Project, I asked him to pull out some bits that were personal to him that he might want within in the space. There were a couple of artworks, then he also presented a map. It wasn’t a historic artifact, but it had been given to him by his Mother and it showed the roots of his family.

There was a real connection here, and ultimately that’s what I aim to give client’s: an attachment to their space whether it’s a home or business, a place to be proud of. Being able to reflect and relate to your surroundings is so important, particularly when you are inviting an interior designer to create that environment on your behalf.

By showing me an object that meant so much to him this immediately opened up a new layer of understanding. The client-designer relationship is complex but trust is integral and I feel connecting is crucial. It is not for me to shoehorn my creative ideas into a design, I want clients to be engaged and inspired by a space on completion, they have to relate to it. I’m approachable and open which helps to foster good rapport so we can work together to create something as unique and eclectic as the client.

As mentioned, the map wasn’t particularly characterful, just a regular map, yet it depicted a certain landscape in its own right; filled with trig points, landmarks, contours and that anticipation of adventure. Both nostalgic and full of prospect, this perfectly aligned with this Edwardian renovation that, to be successful, commanded respect of the history and also needed to reflect the aspirations of the homeowner himself.

If the map itself was to go into the room then there had to be some changes to its brash appearance which would have been too jarring against the heritage colours. So, a sort of filter was applied in the form of bronze glazing. I felt it was important to reassert its status in an elevated position above the fireplace. But also by somewhat obscuring it this generated intrigue and mystique, and so the story unfolds…what would your story be…?

The materials were also informed from this storytelling perspective; canvas, steel and wool, all practical and hardwearing, were employed as you might utilise if going on an adventure. The lighting is ultra-modern in its technology (featuring Bluetooth control and a conductive tape that the lamps can be moved along) but the red belt evokes something from a Wes Anderson movie for strapping in equipment for a whimsical escapade. There is a real playfulness within so many aspects of the room for the client to interpret on his own or observe with the company of friends, reminiscing on memories and telling yarns.

The map served as inspiration for much of the overall design. soft contours of undulating land contrast bold symbols, this translated into the organic muted rug punctuated with bright geometric shapes found throughout the room.

Where repetition is seen in the window seat this is pitched against abstract irregularity from the hand printed tiles.

Many elements of the room were bespoke, commissioned to create individuality. Details like the contrasting coloured zips on the cushions are just one of the considered touches that elevate the finish of the room. These little flourishes can often be overlooked, having an interior designer on board gives you the knowledge that there has been attention to detail.