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Successful design duo delights in the details

Successful design duo delights in the details

Designer Jennifer Howell doesn’t encourage her clients to be slaves to fashion. When designing an interior, she believes it’s more important to respect personal style and the essence of the home itself.

Jennifer is one half of the design duo behind Christchurch company Harper’s Bazaar Interiors, along with co-owner Rosabel Yong. The pair first met as design students at Christchurch Polytechnic – now Ara Institute.

Over the course of this long history they’ve developed a collaborative approach that Jennifer sees as a key element of their success.

“We’re constantly bouncing ideas off each other, brainstorming and challenging each other. And as a duo we can work independently or together, so it’s the best of both worlds, for us and for our clients.”

The company’s portfolio is evenly split between renovations for existing homes and designs for new builds, but in both cases the design process begins with a conversation. “We love building that rapport with clients and understanding what they want to achieve.”

Jennifer and Rosabel draw on a wide range of resources to inspire ideas, including fabric and colour swatches, books and magazines, and online blogs and websites.

While some clients have a very clear aesthetic in mind, others value the guidance that Jennifer and Rosabel offer.

“We can look at small paint samples, or fabric swatches and envisage them on a larger scale,” says Jennifer.

“A fabric might look totally different when it’s hanging vertically compared to lying flat, because of how the light hits it.”

Jennifer has seen a huge growth in the range of products and furnishings available to clients. A decade ago she might have seen two or three key trends a year, but now new ranges arrive almost every week.

Combine this increased availability with the diverse styling featured on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram and clients have a huge range of inspirations from which to build a unique look.

And as Jennifer points out, there are good reasons for bucking the trends. “No one wants to go to a friend’s house and see the exact thing they’ve just done in their own home.

We start fresh with every client so we’re never repeating ourselves.” Where some designers outsource aspects of their work, Jennifer and Rosabel oversee the process from start to finish.

This includes sourcing products and materials, measuring and quoting, ordering, and writing up job sheets for production workrooms. After overseeing the installation and styling of the finished design, they also do all their own invoicing and bookkeeping. “We’re perfectionists,” jokes Jennifer.

“We’ve helped to create something and we want to see that through to the end, to ensure that our clients are totally happy.” It’s an approach that brings rewards for client and designer.

“Sometimes a client will give us a big bunch of flowers, but we feel like we should be giving them one. It’s really fulfilling when something comes together and looks great.”

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