Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

In Conversation

In Conversation: Olivia Joffrey

Olivia Joffrey was raised by two native New Yorkers in a California beach house full of books and records. Her eponymous collection is both a love letter to 1970s Santa Cruz, her bohemian hometown, and her mother – a former stage actress whose expatriate years in mid-century Spain flavoured her personal style. With the collection, Olivia seeks to share with women the liberation of a chic, effortless dress – one that inspires a life of more joy and passion pursuits and minimal time deliberating in one’s closet.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

Olivia with her daughter Cosima


Your mother Anne-Marie is a constant inspiration for your creations. How would you define her style?

True style is really autobiography. My mother’s style was 100% the byproduct of the places in which she lived: New York, San Francisco, and finally Andalusia. New York City lent my mother a certain urbane femininity. She always leaned toward unfussy clothes, long hair parted in the middle in a chignon. However, she would never leave the house without perfume. Naked without perfume! She believed a woman should have one nice handbag. Peeking out of hers, was the latest Paris Review, or The New Yorker. She was glamorous in a bookish way. Eventually she left New York for San Francisco after reading Kerouac’s On The Road : she basically put down the book and got on a Greyhound bus. In San Francisco, she fell in with another group of bohemian writers, but she was never ever a hippie. Throughout the 60s and 70s she wore simple, elegant shift dresses from I. Magnin (the Bergdorf Goodman of California, now defunct). She loved bell-bottomed pant suits, which she’d wear with a French t-shirt and wedge espadrilles. She had a Bill Blass kind of elegance, but it was tempered by the earthiness of California (canvas shoes, wood buttons, Mexican silver jewelry, etc.)

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

Expats at the Féria de Sevilla c.1967. One American stage actress, a South African puppeteer, her Irish novelist husband & their darling boys. And one dignified Spaniard. (Of note: my mother is wearing a white cotton dress that served as inspiration for our Olivia Joffrey  Monterey  Cabana Dress)


By the 1970s she was living all over the world, but primarily in Nerja, Spain where a group of her friends had formed a sort of impromptu writers colony. Living in Spain taught her the joys of minimalism. One trunk of clothes would have to last for several years (there was nowhere to shop in Franco’s Spain!). The Andalusian climate dictated cotton dresses, lightweight caftans, and white trousers with button-down shirts (she would buy hers in the Brooks Brothers boys department.) She had amazing, thick blonde hair which was her crowning glory. When it started to turn white prematurely in her thirties, she just let it be. The white hair spoke volumes: confidence, self-knowledge, a little avant-garde.

My mother’s style was effortless, laid-back, tidy, feminine, and worldly.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

Nerja, Andalusia 1967. My mother in a silk brocade kaftan outside her house.


In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey

My mother in Nerja c.1967


Which part did you find the most difficult when creating your own brand? And the most rewarding?

The line has come along so organically. I am not formally educated in fashion, so I’m naïve (often clueless) of the fashion business protocols. I decided early on that I just wanted to make caftans and tunics – seasonless pieces. Our logo, website and the hangtag design all came to me easily, given my background in illustration. The collection is a love letter to my mother and the life she led. I am telling her story. The most difficult thing for me is managing production, quality control, making sure the fabrics I love are available in the quantities I need, on time, etc. The most rewarding thing is definitely the storytelling. If I weren’t designing clothes, I’d probably write a screenplay about her life. She has advanced Alzheimer’s now (she’s 84) so it’s my cartharsis, my productive means of keeping her memory alive.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey


Capitola Cabana dress -Midnight flamenco dot by Olivia Joffrey

Capitola Cabana dress -Midnight flamenco dot


Carmel Cabana dress -ocean stripe by Olivia Joffrey

Carmel Cabana dress -ocean stripe


You’ve lived in London, New York and California. What taught you about style each of these cities?

What a fabulous question! I adore cities.


I lived in New York as a young woman after college. I’d walk to work from uptown to midtown, soaking up a lot of visual education just people-and-building-watching. I learned what good grooming is from New Yorkers. I grew up in a California beach town, so at 23 I still didn’t know what a blow-out was. Gorgeous elderly ladies groomed to smithereens walking their dogs around Central Park impressed me. The public life, the streets of New York are a magical theatre. New York taught me a certain optimism, an appreciation for all the different varieties of beauty out there to appreciate.


In London, I lived in Marylebone and studied/worked in architecture; London for me, is the nexus of the design world. I remember the euphoria of discovering the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) – wait, it’s a bookshop/ gallery/ bar/ chic latenight café/ movie house? Pinch me. London is ancient and has so many layers of history that it feels like the appropriate place for cutting edge modernity to spring from. The medieval Inns of Court were once new, so was the Barbican, the Tate Modern… the list goes on. London was an education for me in how rich you can be on a tight budget, getting to suck the marrow from a city.


Having been raised here, California is in my blood – the climate, the plants, surfer slang, the scent of jasmine and salt air, The Pacific – all these things feel like my own skin. My family and I now live in Montecito, a little coastal village next to Santa Barbara. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family, grow a business (my production is close by in Los Angeles) and be a creative person. California is about two things for me: (1) sensuality and (2) open-mindedness. Sensuality due to the climate and the exquisite natural beauty that saturates the place and open-mindedness coming from the “go west” mentality of all the folks who settled this place. Free-thinkers, wierdos and progressives who dream big. California is always questioning convention and moving forward.

In Conversation - Olivia Joffrey



I met you through Instagram (and I’m so glad I did!) How important is the role of Social Media in your brand?

Instagram is the best. The brand benefits tremendously from the little community we cultivate there. We haven’t really tapped Facebook or Pinterest for the same purpose but that is a goal moving forward. One interesting phenomenon for the brand is our devoted following of interior designers. So unexpected and welcome! I guess it makes sense, as caftans are the sort of things you wear at home, or on holiday in a relaxed setting. There is a yearning among interior designers to create spaces that allow the people to feel “at home.” I am trying to do the same thing with fabric on the body. I feel a special kinship with interior designers.

Monterey Cabana Dress by Olivia Joffrey

Monterey Cabana dress – Flamenco dot


Your home is sophisticated yet relaxed, do you have any tips for achieving this style?

Thank you! Such a compliment, as you have the most cultivated eye Gloria. I think of my home is kind of like a mixed tape. It needs to capture my tone. In my case, Californian, but relatively well-traveled. Lots of books, records, mementos, kid’s drawings. My husband’s family is from India so we love to tap into his roots. I discovered Les Indiennes fabric a few years back, and positively mummified a room in their block prints. I think a house will look sophisticated if you just keep the stuff that you love out on display: your books, your music, your art (even propped against a wall.) The relaxed part is probably just a nice way of saying “messy” – I have three girls under the age of 8 so we are by default a hot mess of art supplies, toys and blocks. In a home, a little messy and happy is better than austere. I like the look of a tousled living room the morning after a party. That feels like home.

Olivia Joffrey's home Olivia Joffrey's home

Olivia Joffrey's home

Olivia Joffrey's home

Olivia Joffrey with her three daughters

Olivia and her three daughters

Olivia Joffrey studio

Olivia Joffrey studio

Olivia Joffrey's home

Thank you so much Olivia!

Images: Olivia Joffrey & Maggie Meiners photography 

In Conversation: Antonia Stewart

Antonia Stewart Ltd is an interior design practice specialising in high end private residential projects in London, the country and abroad.

With nearly 20 years of interior design experience, Antonia uses her creative flair to produce individual and elegant interiors whilst taking into account the architecture of the building and their surroundings.

In Conversation - Antonia Stewart

Discover Antonia’s inspiration, advice on starting your own interior design practice and more in today’s conversation.

 Dear Antonia, first of all, I would like to know when did your passion for interiors start.

My interest in interiors really has been there from the start…..when we were children, we lived in a lovely, warm, happy home in the (English) country that was always filled with fresh flowers for the garden; I always thought that that made the house feel alive.   In the interiors that I design now for my clients – without even thinking about it – I am always trying to recreate that feeling.

A Master bedroom in one country project by Antonia Stewart. The room was wrapped in a wallpaper that was especially coloured for this  room, taking it all the way up into the A-shaped ceiling space for the maximum effect.
A Master bedroom in one country project by Antonia Stewart. The room was wrapped in a wallpaper that was especially coloured for this  room, taking it all the way up into the A-shaped ceiling space for the maximum effect.

Later on, at school, I studied Art and History of Art and loved the combination of the two very different styles of discipline.  On one hand, there was the structure of history of art; an academic subject requiring research, reading and essay writing and on the other hand – art that required visualisation, hand to eye co-ordination, appreciation of materials, texture and colour as well as a great deal of imagination. At university, I then went onto study History of Art further – taking modules on domestic architecture along the way.  With a solid base under my belt, my first job was at a medium-sized architectural and interior design practice in London where I stayed for 7 years and learnt a lot about the practicalities of design.  I cut my teeth on some wonderful projects including undertaking the refurbishment of a private jet for a Russian oligarch!

The fabulous thing about interior design is that you are always learning and with every project, you research new areas that perhaps you didn’t know so much about before.

The hand-painted tiles in this London kitchen were commissioned especially for this room with a design that was worked up over months to meet with the client's brief.
The hand-painted tiles in this London kitchen were commissioned especially for this room with a design that was worked up over months to meet with the client’s brief.


What was the most difficult part when starting your own interior design practice.

I was never worried about starting my own business as I have plenty of get up and go and I had good contacts and great clients from the start.  However, I was most surprised by how much “back of house” administration there was to do; a lot of time can be taken up just doing things to make the business tick – such as VAT returns, insurance, marketing, social media – things that don’t necessarily make any money.  Now that I have been established for 13 years, my team picks up most of these jobs – enabling me to concentrate on the big picture and do what I enjoy most and am best at!

Study scheme for a recent project in Kensington by Antonia Stewart
Study scheme for a recent project in Kensington


Favourite British interior

I recently went to 7 Hammersmith Terrace, London – the Arts and Crafts home of Emery Walker. Walker and his friend William Morris were the first of the Arts and Crafts Movement and together set up the (shortlived) Kelmscott Press.  The house at 7 Hammersmith Terrace has recently been restored and has some of the original Morris & Co wallpapers (dating back to the 1920’s) some in rare designs and colourways. Combined with 17th and 18th century furniture, and fabrics and pottery from the Middle East and China the house is a fabulous mix of how a home would have been decorated in this period.

Emery Walker's House
Emery Walker’s House.


What’s the best advice you could give to someone who is trying to start their career in the interior design field?

The world of interior design has changed dramatically over the last 20 years.  With many more people coming into the field, competition is now really hot.  Ideally, a newcomer would have a degree in interior design (in the UK the best courses are at the Inchbald or KLC in London) or something linked to the field – such as architecture, interior architecture, textile design or history of art for example and everyone must be fluent in CAD.  Every practice now demands people to have the ability to draw up furniture layouts, electrical layouts, joinery drawings in a CAD format.  In addition, you must be super organised and have good attention to detail – in running a job there are a huge number of ever-changing schedules that need to kept up to date and issued to keep the job on track and on budget.

I always think that an interior designer is like being the conductor of an orchestra; you are at the centre with the overall vision and it is your responsibility to organise and bring together the various elements, changing them if necessary to ensure that you always have the very best team around you.

Dual aspect windows in the sitting room of one of Antonia Stewart Ltd country projects. They chose a pink/green scheme for this room to keep it fresh and warm whatever the time of the day and used different textures to create a layered, evolved feeling.
Dual aspect windows in the sitting room of one of Antonia Stewart Ltd country projects. They chose a pink/green scheme for this room to keep it fresh and warm whatever the time of the day and used different textures to create a layered, evolved feeling.


Who are the past or present interior designers that inspire you the most?

Wow! That is a difficult question! Where to start!?! I love elements of lots of interior designers – but choosing 3 of my favourites….  Being a big colour fan, I find Kit Kemp a very refreshing face on the interior scene. I enjoy the eclectic build-up in her schemes and I particularly like the way she looks out specific artists and then incorporates their work into hers. As a result, her interiors feel cosy and not too formal – a bit like mine.  I also love the boldness and strength in the late David Hicks’s interiors. He was another great colour lover and combined this with the use of strong geometric carpets and fabrics for which he is well-known.  I also love the architectural work of Ben Pentreath – and feel so relieved that there is someone out there producing new but genuinely beautiful buildings (and streets!) that will be such a fabulous legacy for future generations.  He designs in such a classical way that if I was planning to do a new build – without doubt, he would be the person I would go to.

Ham Yard Hotel by Kit Kemp
Ham Yard Hotel (London) by Kit Kemp  Firmdale Hotels

Thank you so much, Antonia!

For more information visit:

Images: Antonia Stewart Ltd unless otherwise specifically stated.

In Conversation: Todhunter Earle

 Emily Todhunter founded her interior design business in 1988, with Kate Earle joining as her partner in 1998. Since then, the company has expanded rapidly both in size and scope. Projects range from English country houses to well-known restaurants, yachts, 5-star hotels and beautiful homes worldwide. 

Emily Todhunter, one half of this talented design duo, shares challenges, inspiration and more in today’s conversation.

Dear  Emily, first of all, I would like to know what are your biggest sources of inspiration.

I think I find inspiration in everything and anything that I am doing – all day long. Whether I am nosing through a coffee table book or Instagram, going for a walk on the downs, visiting an old English country house, in a museum, an art fair…wherever I am I am thinking about colour combinations and styles. If it had to be one source of inspiration, I suppose I would say that it was being brought up in lovely houses. I was very lucky.

Watercolor of a dining room in Scotland designed by Todhunter EarleWatercolor of a dining room in Scotland designed by Todhunter Earle


Over the years I’m sure that you have had many challenging projects, is there one that was particularly difficult?

I can’t think of any physical situation that has been too challenging. I am not at all fazed by the size or complexity of a project. What makes a project difficult is if there is an underlying family unhappiness that no amount of decorating can heal. We get so close to our clients and usually, we pride ourselves on our ability to lift and lighten everyone’s mood. We like to design happy houses and we usually do. But occasionally, (actually, only once I think!) the family dynamic was beyond repair. That was a real challenge!

A glamorous yet comfortable home in Belgravia by Todhunter EarleA glamorous yet comfortable home in Belgravia.


Favourite London interior

It’s probably very unimaginative but I do love the interior of the 5 Hertford Street. It’s so cosy and spoiling.

5 Hertford Street, London5 Hertford Street. Gloria González photography


  A colour you would never be tired of.

As a wall colour, I suppose I would never be tired of a Farrow and Ball’s ‘Downpipe’

Country home in Yorkshire by Todhunter Earle Countryhouse in Berkshire


Yachts, ski chalets, family homes…What’s your best advice to be able to do such diverse projects yet maintain a signature style in all of them?

I don’t think about it! I just follow my instinct and do whatever feels right at the time. I am not sure why I make the decisions I do. I just hurl it all together and hope for the best!

Swiss Chalet by Todhunter Earle                                                                      Swiss Chalet                                                                           

Any tips to adapt the English Country Style to modern times?

Yes – just simplify, reduce, lighten…but keep the character, keep the mementoes, don’t lose that evolved relaxed atmosphere, don’t be too precious. Reorganise the space so that the kitchen becomes the heart of the house. Gone are the days (sadly!) of having staff behind the green baize door. Open the house more to the garden, maximise the views through the windows. We used to need heavy curtains over the windows to keep out the draughts, but times have changed now, we have such good insulation so we ought to change our decorating accordingly and use lighter curtains and let the light flood in

Madresfield Court. Todhunter Earle Madresfield Court. Todhunter Earle
Madresfield Court

 Thank you so much, Emily!

For more information visit:

Images: Todhunter Earle unless otherwise specifically stated.