Monday, 11 August 2014


There is an international flavour to the work of Sydney-based interior designer Tamsin Johnson. Perhaps it relates to her time living and working in London. Or is informed by her regular travels overseas. Regardless, Tamsin has a flair for blending antique pieces with contemporary art, and fusing them with classic foundation materials. After studying interior design at the Inchbald School of Design in London, she worked for some firms there before returning to Sydney. Once back on home soil, Tamsin joined the design team at Meacham Nockles McQualter before deciding to go out on her own four years later. In March 2013 she launched Tamsin Johnson Interior Design and has been in high demand, designing Guillaume’s new restaurant in Paddington, Mr Tipplys pub in the CBD and a specialty coffee shop called Kingswood, among others. As well as working on residential interiors in Sydney she has recently returned from Los Angeles, where she is creating the interiors for a house and office. Notwithstanding all that, Tamsin has been key to the look of the showrooms for P Johnson Tailors, the business of her husband Patrick Johnson.

Which five words best describe you? Excited, ambitious, passionate, adventurous and positive.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My first start was a change of career from fashion to interiors. My parents met me in Rome as I was living in London at the time at 21 years old. It was an amazing weekend with much discussion and they said to just go for it. I studied interior design at Inchbald in London and never looked back. I got lucky with incredible experience with some very special people with amazing taste and manners. Hopefully I can be that person to someone else one day. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To always be nice to people. I've had a couple of horrific bosses along the way (mainly in London) and there is absolutely no benefit. It sounds corny but treat people how you'd like to be treated back... I once got abused by a French boss in London because the dressing on my salad smelt like coriander. 

What’s your proudest career achievement? Starting my own business, for sure. The bigger the challenge the bigger the triumph. It's been an intense journey but every minute has been exciting. 

I also have a few jobs overseas at the moment. To travel and work has always been a dream. To be able to work across the world is a pretty incredible thing. Especially sourcing from dealers over there, the selection is endless.

What’s been your best decision? To start my own business.

Who inspires you? My husband, my parents who have beautiful taste, architects, artists, friends, and anyone doing things differently. 

What are you passionate about? Art, food, travel, Italy, learning Italian (which I haven't started yet), sunshine.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Jean Pigozzi was on my list but he actually ended up in my client meeting in LA last week. I have many though. Sean Penn?

What dream do you still want to fulfil? To climb Mount Kilamanjaro. I had booked this October but we had to cancel because of my work. Hopefully next year.

What are you reading? Provenance. Based on the biggest art fraud of the 20th century. True story about two con men who sell fake art including Giocometto, Corbusier, Debuffet. I highly recommend it. 

images courtesy of tamsin johnson

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