Penny Morrison, Interior Designer, London
There are many ways to describe Penny Morrison and her work, but dull is certainly not one of them. Her designs are a riot of colour and pattern but never overwhelmingly so. Each fabric, every shape feels thoughtful and organic, if a little surprising (in the best way possible). Penny Morrison’s pieces are just like her: warm, creative, and at home in any space. We sit down with the make to discuss bad taste, prints, and tips for the perfect table settings.
Where do you find inspiration?
Travelling is where I am inspired the most. I look to India for their wonderful vegetable dyed fabrics and I am fascinated by the array of intricate embroideries found in Turkey, Greece, and Russia. I love to combine the inspirations I find from around the world to create a fun, free, and timeless feel that exudes the Penny Morrison style.
How would you describe your homeware brand?
The Penny Morrison homeware brand embodies the bold colours, prints, and patterns we are most loved for. Our home accessories delve into a world of patterns and prints and allow our customers to add a pop of style and colour to any interior space. They can place a long rectangular embroidered cushion with soft tassels on a loveseat or adorn their tablescape with our exotic blue palm tree ceramic collection.
You love unexpected pairings. What advice would you give people about mixing patterns at home?
Yes, I love to mix and layer unexpected pairings! This can bring depth and harmony to a room, while keeping things vibrant and interesting. A home needs a personality and pattern is a great way to add this. There are no rules for mixing patterns and I think the whole idea of the mix and match look of past decorating has evolved as decorators and interior designers have become bolder and prefer a more eclectic look. Sometimes the most unexpected pairings are the best, so don’t be afraid to get a bit playful and creative.
How would you define good taste/bad taste?
I don’t particularly believe in good or bad taste, as long as you buy and collect what you love. Taste is subjective after all! However, I do like to create a sense of freshness and playfulness with my colour schemes rather than trying to exude a heaviness or a masculine style to decorating. I love maximising the use of space with large items of furniture to create a feeling of comfort, as well as often amalgamating outdoor and indoor spaces by using large french windows onto open terraces under pergolas, for example, to extend the feeling and size of the main downstairs rooms, such as the dining area.
Your Welsh home has been the source of inspiration for many. If you had one piece of advice to give people to create their home, what would it be?
I don’t really believe in ‘rules’ when it comes to design, but for me, the most important piece of advice to consider is that real luxury means comfort. Thinking about comfort is so key to pulling a home together. Picture how you will use and live in the space. Ask questions, like is there somewhere we can properly relax? Are there spots where people can put their drink down? For these reasons, I love styling a space with deep sofas, feather cushions and plenty of side tables.
What are your tips for the perfect table setting?
The Penny Morrison way:
1) More is more! I love a maximalist approach so I always suggest using lots of accessories and layering different table linens to add different dimensions to the tablescape.
2) Never underestimate the importance of lighting! For a dinner party, I love using several votive candles to cast beautiful soft light across the table or inside a coloured glass hurricane lamp for a gorgeous rainbow effect.
3) Adding flowers will always make a tablescape more beautiful. You can use lots of little vases with small colourful floral combinations, or for a more structured approach, try tall vases with pretty branches.
4) Be unexpected. You might think that a certain tablecloth might not look good paired with certain table mats but you never know!
5) I like to steer clear of white plates. Why choose something so plain when hand-painted ceramic tableware can instantly add a beautiful artisanal feel to your set up?
What are your favourite places to shop for interiors?
I love going to markets in Portugal, India, and Morocco for interior inspiration. But closer to home, I love the Fabric Collective in London for fabric and wallpaper inspiration, and Paolo Moschino, Nick Haslam and Birdie Fortescue.
What is your favourite Hotel? Restaurant?
My favourite hotel is The Carlyle in New York or one of Kit Kemp’s Firmdale Hotels.
It’s hard to pick just one, so I have two. I love La Famiglia in London – a local Italian restaurant with wonderfully friendly staff and a warm atmosphere. Wiltons is my favourite for a smarter dinner, with delicious food and exquisite service.
Any wishes for 2022?
To travel as much as possible and explore all the places I have missed so much after the most difficult couple of years!