We asked Toronto-based designer Emily Griffin of Emily Griffin Design what fuels her work. The designer, who studied at the New York Institute of Art & Design, has become known for her highly unique work that marries classic design with eclectic finishes. Through colour, pattern and texture, Griffin creates layered, transitional spaces that are often inspired by her extensive travels around the globe, and that always reflect her clients' vision. You'll frequently find her work in top design publications, and the designer recently took centre stage at Toronto's Interior Design Show, talking with House & Home's Lynda Reeves about the impact and importance of colour in design.
HG: How would you define your style?
EG: Classic and timeless with a good dose of colour and whimsy thrown in.
HG: When did you first become interested in design?
EG: Design is actually a second career for me. I left a lucrative job in sponsorship marketing when I was pregnant with my second child, Max, as I craved a more balanced and creative life. I launched EG Design from my basement two months after my son was born 17 years ago. Crazy thing to do I know! But I’ve always loved design and was lucky enough to live in a number of beautiful homes growing up – homes my mother decorated in a very British and fearless manner. She never went into the profession but she would have been highly sought after if she had.
HG: Who or what inspires you?
EG: Travel inspires me a great deal. My husband is in the travel business so we have travelled a lot to the far reaches of the globe, including India, Morocco, South Africa, Japan and extensively in Europe. Travelling to developing countries is especially inspiring, mainly because of what you can see in the streets and markets. Everything is alive and on display, and anyone who knows me understands that I'm most at home deep in the trenches of a local market. In terms of designer crushes, I have a BIG one on Kit Kemp these days – she pushes the envelope for colour and pattern like no other designer. Her hotels are to die for and I’m looking forward to an upcoming stay at The Crosby Street Hotel in NYC in March.
HG: Your happy place?
EG: Our cottage on Balsam Lake. It's quiet and rustic and I feel a million miles away when I arrive Friday night after a hectic week in the city.
HG: What's your favourite part of the design process?
EG: Two parts really – the beginning when all the pieces come together to form an overall vision for a space, and then the end when we're photographing our work. The middle bits aren’t as fun for me!
HG: Styling tip?
EG: My business partner Stephanie Houghton and I always start with pillows, books and art when styling our clients’ homes. With all three of these you are good to go – everything else is an added bonus!
HG: Favourite room in the house?
EG: My favourite room in our house is our front room. It's painted a dark khaki brown (Farrow & Ball Mouse’s Back); we have old books passed down from my family on display; and our walls and shelves are covered in treasures picked up on our travels. We bookmark our days in this room – coffee in the morning and a glass of wine (or two) at night.
HG: Best entertaining tip?
EG: I bring out my German Bayal glasses passed down from my great grandmother every time we entertain. They are absolutely dreadful in terms of letting wine breathe but I don’t care – they are so colourful and they liven up my dinner table!