Niki Jones has used handcrafted finds from India and her exquisite design work to adorn her elegant, inviting Glasgow apartment. Words by Alison Gibb. Photos by Douglas Gibb
Words such as "inspirational" and "luxurious" are often used to describe the designer Niki Jones's products, and they certainly are shown off to wonderful effect in her own home.
After finishing her studies at London's Royal College of Art, Nikki took a job as a textile designer and style co-ordinator with Habitat, then became the creative director for Wedgewood before setting up her own company, Niki Jones.
The launch prompted her to return to Glasgow, the city where she was brought up. It is a creative city, with a strong community of fellow artists and designers, so it was easy for Niki to find her niche there.
She had lived in London, Edinburgh and abroad, and says it was good to come home. "I have to travel a lot for my company, so being able to bring up my son with the help and support of extended family is absolutely vital," she says.
"My home has evolved slowly since I bought it two years ago. I took the time to get to know it before completing it. I am so glad I did not rush in and gut the place."
She bought the apartment from a developer who worked hard to preserve the features that Niki is so fond of. "It is a listed building, so he was not allowed to touch the cornicing and the panelling around the walls. This is why the kitchen has been fitted away from the walls."
Compact and welcoming, the kitchen sits behind a partition wall that shields it from guests' view as they first enter.
"It still enjoys natural light, though, through a gap in the units," Niki says. Artworks and the stunning, original wood panelling can also be seen from the living room through the gap in the cabinetry.
It is an unusual solution, but very much in keeping with Niki's quirky sense of style. Throughout the home, she has created a neutral backdrop from which to display the large collection of mismatched accessories that she treasures.
"I have made a point of using good-quality emulsion throughout," she says. "It has a chalky quality that cheaper paints do not have."
Different shades have been applied in many of the rooms. "The light is different in different parts of the house," Niki says, "and dark colours can be as useful a backdrop as light. People often do not realise this. However, continuity is important to me, too, so I have laid an oak floor throughout."
The flat is full of recognisable pieces from Habitat that Niki designed. It also serves as an impressive showcase for her own company.
At the heart of the apartment is the living room, bathed in light from a magnificent bay window. A grey sofa and armchair tone well with the light emulsion on the walls. A pendant lamp makes an attractive centrepiece, while an elegant arc standard lamp usefully delineates the sitting area from the dining room. A delicate bench that Niki designed sits in the large bay window opposite the sofa, while collections and family photographs line the window sills.
Niki's bedroom is her favourite room. Dark walls painted in Farrow and Ball's Downpipe (for a similar shade, use Ace Paint's Faded Denim) make a soothing backdrop to Niki's pretty yet practical dressing table, which is inlaid with pearl, one of her trademark details. Layers of embroidered bedding, again designed by Niki, make a dazzling collage in the otherwise restful room. An eye-catching pink chair has room for cushions and, like all Niki's pieces, cleverly contrasts the palette of dark grey, pink, black and cream.
Niki says that rather than outright styling a room, she simply collects objects she likes. "Don't design a room. Buy things that you really love. Feel free. There are no rules. I hate over-coordination and symmetry."
While setting up and running the company have been hard work for Niki, her flat serves as a peaceful sanctuary where she can work on her designs undisturbed. "Somehow, sitting in my dining room with the sun streaming in from the huge bay window seems to be where I am most productive," she says.
Niki designs everything herself and the items are produced mainly in India, where she established relationships with manufacturers during her time at Habitat. "I started the company in the throes of the credit crunch, but the recession actually played into my hands because suppliers were not as busy as they might have been and so were willing to work with a new company like my own."
The products are handmade by skilled craftspeople from all over the world, using time-honoured techniques.
Inspired to set up her eponymous brand because she could not find what she wanted herself, Niki wanted to create a collection that celebrated the handmade but also embraced contemporary style. "I was looking for well designed and well crafted pieces for my home that were a bit special," she says. The fact that she has succeeded is proof of her talent and determination.
Niki's home reflects her business perfectly. Glamorous combinations of unexpected colours and textures result in a look that is both sumptuous and cosy. Exquisitely embroidered cushions are piled up on classic pieces of furniture. A concern for quality, coupled with a design ethic that is unhurried and measured, has led to a home that is luxurious and inspirational.
For more information and Niki Jones designs, visit www.niki-jones.co.uk