Design & Decoration S01 ep5: John Stefanidis, Stefanidid Interior, [London]
Interview with John Stefanidis
The references are the space and above all the client. Usually it is the fulfillment of an aspiration and the creativity that they are entrusting to us. They might themselves be very creative, but not have the time.
KM What is John Stefanidis?
We build houses, we design furniture, the inspiration is based on what I know
and what my colleagues know and have learnt. We hope that it represents a
form of excellence.
I was brought up in Egypt, I am an Alexandrian Greek
And I lived there until I was seventeen
After I left Oxford I went into Advertising and I worked in Milan for 5 years. I
learnt Italian and then I absorbed what Italy has to give. Where I lived taught
me about being creative and than what I learnt there was what I subsequently
called 'drop dead date'.
KM What do you mean by that?
Which is a date, which things have to be, finished ready and perfect.
KM: When did you actually fall into interior design and design in general?
That was an accident of fate. I decided I wanted to live in London and I had to
have a business and that is what I chose.
KM: What was London like in terms of interior design and the feeling and
Well there was not much going on, but because it is a Metropolis, it absorbs,
and then what I have witnessed is a very dramatic change. There were very
few craftsmen, lots of things have been forgotten and there has been a
renaissance. Little by little it has become a design force, partly because of
English fashion, shabby chic etc, etc.
In England it is nearly always, it is more than likely to be renewing an existing
space. How you filter the light, and what you do with the light, is a
preoccupation when you are establishing the blueprint of a house.
KM: As an interior designer/architect today, what can't you do, rather than
what can you do?
It depends whether, what you are fulfilling is somebody's fantasy or whether it
is suited to the person, the client, and the environment, the architecture and so
on. I am paid to do a pavilion in England that is a private commission and he is
not interested in doing the inside, he has total confidence in us. I think he
knows that we will respect the design and not do anything silly. So it is a
question of understanding.
KM: When a client comes to you what is your reference?
The references are the place, above all the client. What they aspire to, usually
it is a fulfilment of an aspiration
… and the creativity that they are entrusting to us, so and they might
themselves be very creative, but not have the time.
We meet very regularly with the client, so within the duration of the contract it
is like once every three weeks or once a month or so, and so we gauge and
we know. It is a process. And also what you have not guessed what we will do
you know because you give an alternative or at the very early days you
eliminate what ..
KM: they like or they don't like.
But we… the fun for us is that we are doing something in New York and also a
large house in Istanbul.
KM: You're kidding.
Yes, so and then a house in Greece on an island. What it is really, is that my
colleagues and I, we have to assimilate and interpret. You do sometimes get to
know people better than you want.
KM: Do you characterise yourself as an artist, as a designer?
No I don't think of myself as an artist. I think of myself as an artisan, in the end
it is to do with practicalities. If it pleases the eye, that is a boost, actually it is to
do with practicalities. I think it is very difficult to cap, to put people into
categories. When we do what we do…. You know I have come across this
when people don't quite know who we are or what we are.
And they are quite surprised at what we do or how much we do or the variety.
KM: Would you say that architects are artists? Even a Frank Gerry today….
you would have to say that the museum, the Guggenheim museum…
Well then in that case you are saying that everybody who is any good is an
KM: Well yeah… But they know, in some respects you would have to ask
yourself if you were born 2000 years ago clearly you would probably be
painting. In those days the concept of interiors was not as advanced as is
Look at the Renaissance they did everything.
KM: But the Renaissance is only 500 years ago.
If I'd been in the Renaissance I ought to be writing poetry… you know.
KM: Where did you draw…
A Renaissance man we hope.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: John Stefanidis, Stefanidis Interior, London