Interior Designer Series – Q&A with Hugh-Jones Mackintosh

Interior Designer Series – Q&A with Hugh-Jones Mackintosh

At Robert Plumb nothing gives us more of a sense of pride than seeing how our pieces of furniture, pots and accessories are used in different styles of interiors. We work regularly with a number of Australia’s best interior designers and wanted to share with you some of the ways they use our products that may, in turn, inspire your own outdoor spaces.

First cab off the rank is Hugh-Jones Mackintosh, made up of Justine Hugh-Jones and Katrina Mackintosh, whose thoughtful, personalized approach with its artful touches and skilled spatial solutions is gaining industry awards and clients alike.

How do you define the philosophy of Hugh-Jones Mackintosh?

Hugh-Jones Mackintosh believes in delivering beautiful, bespoke solutions for clients who value a personalised interior enriched by art, vintage pieces and the character considered curation brings. By listening, and guiding our clients through the process, we create ergonomic, practical and aesthetically satisfying spaces with a real sense of connection that speaks to their lives now and into the future.

Top: Katrina Mackintosh & Justine Hugh-Jones. Photography by Hugh Stewart. Above: Courtyard House Project, featuring Seti Armchairs and Plank Coffee Table. Photography by Prue Ruscoe.

What is your ideal type of project?

Definitely one which is a truly harmonious collaboration both with the clients and the professionals we work with, including architects, landscape designers and builders.  When we are appointed early on in the life of the project we can genuinely collaborate and influence design outcomes in the best way possible. We are passionate about what we do and get an enormous amount of pleasure working with clients to draw out their vision and express their personality with unique objects and furniture pieces.

When you are engaged to work on a project how important is the relationship between inside and out?

It is an essential relationship and especially so working on projects in a part of the world where we are blessed with such amazing outdoor spaces, whether they are coastal, rural or urban.

Bilgola Beach House Project, featuring the Murray Rose Shower, Southie Side Tables, Molly (Mel)Drum, Frankenstools and Bondi pots in a custom green glaze. Photography by Prue Ruscoe.


What are some of the ways that you bring the two together?

We design the indoor and outdoor space in one cohesive vision, and we try and bring each space equally into the other by carefully selecting furniture and finishes that relate to one another. Hugh-Jones Mackintosh also loves working with natural materials and an earthy muted colour palette which links the two areas together visually. From a space planning perspective, we also consider the natural flow and movement of people between these areas and the placement and size of furniture and objects is also carefully considered.

In Australia we have pioneered the ‘outdoor room,’ the domestication of adjacent outdoor spaces. Is this something your clients want and what are some things that you have learnt about how best to make it work?

The best approach is to work around flexibility and the ability to allow the outdoor room to work for both seating and dining occasions. If space is limited to incorporate both then we prioritise low level seating and tables as well as built-in day beds for relaxation and socializing over another dining table. With well-designed internal spaces that open up to the outside with wide fold back doors then dining can be enjoyed inside with the sensation that you are connected to the garden spaces. There is a lot of visual clutter with dining chair legs and we discourage clients from having too many tables and chairs on top of one another.

Palm Beach House Project featuring Fatso Modular Lounge and Coffee Table. Photography by Nick Watt.

We love that you have chosen Robert Plumb products in the mix with other great design choices sourced locally and overseas – what appeals to you about the pieces you have chosen?

A lot of our clients particularly love the Seti range of armchairs and sofas as they still very much relate to the materiality of timber furniture outside. It feels robust but natural and the seating is very comfortable. This range as designers we love as it is so customizable with the choice of fabrics and mixes in well with other furniture styles so well. Everyone also loves to support local Australian designed and made products, so this is a big selling point.

Do you have an overall comment about how the Robert Plumb product fits into the homes you design both stylistically and functionally?

Well primarily all the Robert Plumb pieces just look fantastic whether they are used outdoors or indoors so stylistically they are a great fit with the Hugh-Jones Mackintosh design vision of sourcing beautiful quality pieces for our homes. They are not only well designed with superior materials, but they are also immensely comfortable. Functionality, beauty and quality are the key requirements when we source furniture and Robert Plumb furniture fits the brief perfectly.

What do you think is trending in outdoor spaces? What should we be looking out for?

The juxtaposition of a variety of different materials and styles is a welcome change from having a matching set of outdoor furniture. Concrete and timber, wicker and metal, fabrics of all colours and textures means your outdoor space is as well considered as your inside living rooms. This also ties back into flooring and walling where you can combine timber, paving, concrete and tiles to create clean lines and different outdoor zones.
It seems so obvious to say but layers of green on green are even more on trend than ever before as we relate to a more oxygenated and natural look.