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Jennifer May Evans of Studio May
interview
03/06/19


1. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR CREATIVE BACKGROUND

I’m a creative interior designer with a passion for art, objects, furniture and materials. After finishing my sculpture degree at Camberwell back in 2007 I knew that I wanted to go into design. I wanted to feel useful - to put my skills and creativity to practical use - and I've worked in the creative industries ever since.

I landed internships at Tom Dixon and MyDeco, alongside paid work assisting designers on events and advertising. But I really wanted to focus on interiors and my first permanent role was assisting a local interior designer in southwest London in 2011. While in that role I was also fortunate enough to secure work on a handful of photo shoots for Wallpaper Magazine, as well as other publications. I learned a huge amount through this, not least of which being a greater ability to see things through the view of a lens, displaying colour and object in a creative but considered way.

I felt that I wanted to legitimise all of that practical experience I'd been building up, so I applied to join the MA course in interior and spatial design at Chelsea College of Art & Design (UAL), and continued to work assisting designers throughout my studies.

Shortly after graduating from Chelsea in 2012, I moved into retail design, taking up a position as interior projects designer at world renowned department store Liberty. My role at Liberty was varied and brilliant. I worked with some awesome people and some amazing brands. Meeting Richard E Grant was a particular highlight, as was launching Flowers of Liberty, an in-house brand consisting of product collaborations, biscuits and aprons.

I love what I do and I love having my own business. But it’s also great to have had the various jobs that have offered me so much experience. It is in large part because of them that I am not easily shaken and can change track and adjust accordingly. My background also lends a different take on design: yes, I need to be practical and accurate, but I also have the creativity to push projects to another level, ask questions and make suggestions about how things can be done differently.


2. CAN YOU GIVE US AN INSIGHT INTO YOUR PRACTICE AND WHAT YOU DO?

I launched my interior design practice Studio May in 2015 and now work with both residential and commercial clients. I’ve worked on private members’ organisations, shops, cafes, bars, product and furniture designs, as well as on clients' homes.

Often I’m given a set brief about what the client wants to achieve and what the budget is. I’ll then consider the brief and the outcomes – should we be doing less or more and how can the brief be achieved or the problem solved?

The creative process then follows. Sometimes I’ll have a clear idea from the off, other times I’ll have a few ideas that I’ll research further: looking for inspirational ideas on Pinterest, visiting existing places, looking at blogs and magazines and playing with colours and fabrics until a steady idea is formed. I’ll then pull it all together on a mood board before collecting physical samples and present this alongside renders and drawings illustrating how my proposal can be achieved. The project develops from there.


3. DO YOU HAVE ANY EXCITING PROJECTS OR EVENTS ON THE HORIZON?

I’m currently working on a product design for a client to take to market, so it’s very hush hush! I’ve been sketching a lot, which is lovely as most projects I undertake only require CAD drawings and 3D renders. I’m looking forward to finalising the design and hopefully seeing it in 3D very soon.

Having only recently moved to Edinburgh, I’m looking forward to starting on some residential developments. The Georgian properties here are gorgeous and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

I’m also working towards a pop-up showcasing an array of curated products that I love to use on projects. Watch this space.


4. WHAT MAKES EDINBURGH A GOOD BASE FOR CREATIVES?

There’s a lot going on in Edinburgh and having moved recently from London, I’m getting to know that chatting with locals is the best way to find out about the latest things to see and do.

There are far more independent shops, cafes and restaurants here, which are really inspiring and great to visit.

There’s also a huge amount of change and regeneration going on in the city. It's great to witness and feel a part of. I recently visited The Edinburgh Printmakers in their gorgeous building on the Union Canal, a really inspiring space for creatives.


5. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE THINKING OF PURSUING A CAREER IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES?

The creative industry is a great place to work but I think you need to be savvy and make sure that you’ve planned ahead in terms of career path.

If you want to be an artist and that’s your calling then go for it 100% - as one of my very close friends has done - but just be aware that it can be tough. You’ll need to stay motivated and possibly have another source of income until you become established and start selling work or securing commissions.

As an independent company owner it’s good to have a network of other creatives who work independently. You can sometimes miss that work camaraderie when you’re working on your own, so you need sounding boards. It’s great if you can use your network to help on projects and vice versa. I’ve brought in talented friends on projects as and when I’ve needed them and passed on job opportunities to my network when I’ve been too busy to take work on. Having this circle really helps to keep jobs running and it builds a trusted network too.


6. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT CREATIVE EDINBURGH?

I’m quite a nosy person so I’m loving that I can read about so many creatives in my new city!

I’ve signed up to one of Creative Edinburgh’s networking events so I’m looking forward to getting to know more like-minded people in the Scottish capital and hopefully embarking on some work together soon.

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