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Finessing the interiors vision with Sue Murphy

The traditional view of an interior designer is someone who curates a room, adding colour and features to a canvas already created by an architect. But the modern interior designer does so much more. Some such as Sue Murphy (suemurphyinteriors.co.uk) are integral to the architecture and design of a building, bringing a holistic aesthetic to draw every element of a project into a common design language.

Sue is involved in a lot of detailed planning for her high-end clients in London and the home counties. Her involvement often starts well before the planning application goes in as the beginning of a complete start to finish process. This means she can work out how a home should be laid out and include the detail in finished drawings prior to finessing the interior layouts with lighting, kitchens, bathrooms, reception, living and bedrooms and anywhere in the home that needs cabinetry.

She adds a degree of on-site project management plus the traditional interior design elements such as finishes, furniture and colours and often includes the finishing touches herself and can often be found arranging cushions or placing books on shelves.

We caught up with Sue to talk about how she works and the importance to her of collaboration with Langstaff-Ellis.

Sue Murphy, Interior Designer

As a designer what are you hoping to achieve for your clients?

My clients all want to create unique homes. To do this, they need someone with vision and practical experience, which is where I come in. My experience in domestic situations, as well as in retail and restaurant design helps me to look at both the big picture and at the details and I know just how important it is to focus on getting the early stages right, so that the final details will flow smoothly.

The other important point to make is that clients appreciate having one point of contact all the way through the process. While I collaborate with a lot of great suppliers the client doesn’t need to manage them, it’s my role to pick up and run with all the design and logistical issues, managing all the partners involved without burdening the client.

You incorporate a lot of cabinetry in your interiors, at what stage do you add it into a design?

I have a real focus at the very early stages of how cabinetry is going to be incorporated and where. It’s as integral as where the walls go and needs to be considered right from the start. It’s got to be cleverly incorporated into the space and not simply added to the plans after the building work has started. I think that holistic way of looking at a project is unusual for interior designers, but it makes for a much more harmonious project with far more satisfying outcomes.

In the last year you’ve worked on a number of projects with Langstaff-Ellis, how did this collaboration come about?

Langstaff-Ellis was recommended to me by my kitchen supplier while I was working on a home in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire during the pandemic. Unfortunately, my previous cabinetry partner folded so I was keen to meet a solid business who understood what I needed to do, had the skills and could react quickly. I met them initially with the client and we were both really impressed by the quality and detail of their presentation, even though it was over Zoom at the time!

There was something in the very detailed high-quality presentation of their drawings that showed the quality of what they could achieve. That initial drawing stage is really important, to show the detail of a product to the client early on. What I liked then and even more so now is how Langstaff-Ellis produce drawings that are much more evocative than the simple black and white CAD drawings I normally see. Their attention to detail really stimulates the imagination, helping to show the vision for the project which the client can really buy into.

Is there anything that particularly stands out in the design challenges you’ve given to Langstaff-Ellis?

We’ve now worked on a number of projects from wardrobes, to dressing rooms and lots of bespoke cabinetry downstairs.

I often have an unusual wish list, but nothing fazes them, in fact they seem to enjoy the process of designing and creating all the unique pieces I want. They’re very proactive too, for example, we’re just working on a large house with a wine cellar where they surveyed on site and were able to point out that we needed larger spaces for the drinks fridges, meaning we could correct the situation on site. That interactivity is so important.

Rather than a supplier they are part of the team, all working together in a very trustworthy relationship.

Often interior makers are very product focused, they’re artisans who struggle with the customer facing aspects of the trade. How do Langstaff-Ellis compare?

I find the team at Langstaff-Ellis to be very service led which is unusual amongst cabinet makers, the proactive client facing side of what they do is so beneficial. It saves me so much time because I don’t have to provide intricately detailed drawings, they can run with a mood board and a brief if necessary.

Their service is really important to me and makes them really good to work with, they’re also really nice people, not just as a team but individually as well. I spend a lot of time with the designers and project managers so it’s important that we get on and are all pulling in the same direction.

Sometimes we go through minute detail with the client and the Langstaff-Ellis designer will be fantastic. They’re very good at reassuring the client, understanding our vision and helping them get exactly what they want.

Clients have told me afterwards how lucky they feel to be understood in such precise detail. It lets the client relax and feel as though they’re not asking too much. They make the client feel important and listened to.

What do you look for in quality of work from an interior’s maker?

The precision of the finished pieces is crucial, I’m also very fussy about finishes and it’s always incredibly good from Langstaff-Ellis. Coupled with their willingness to work around issues on site it makes for a fantastic partnership.

The team have such high levels of expectation for their own work and it really shines through. It’s also refreshing to have someone willing to give advice, which is important to me, having them as a sounding board making suggestions and telling me when ideas won’t work!

If you could sum up your collaboration with Langstaff-Ellis what would you say?

I am confident that I can involve them with my clients. I know clients will be impressed by them which in turn works so well for me as the designer. I enjoy working with them, they make it easy to achieve our ultimate goal of fulfilling the vision for the client and producing brilliant interiors.

If you’d like to see more of Sue Murphy’s work discover her at suemurphyinteriors.co.uk
Instagram: @suemurphyinteriors
Facebook: @suemurphyinteriors

For more information about working with Langstaff-Ellis to create your own stunning interior please use the contact details below.

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Langstaff-Ellis Case Study: A Grand Reception for Anderson Orr

Langstaff-Ellis has proudly partnered with award-winning architects Anderson Orr for a number of years, delivering beautiful bespoke kitchens, dressing rooms and libraries for many of their prestigious residential projects.

When it came to their own project in a recent move of premises, they turned to the Langstaff-Ellis team to bring their vision of a beautiful bespoke reception desk to life.

Anderson Orr’s striking design layers undulating slices of lacquered Birch Plywood across Black Core Valchromat, with surfaces finished in Forbo Desktop Linoleum for a hardwearing and contemporary feel – ideal for a busy reception area.

Head of Creative Paul Everest says ‘This is an exquisite example of Langstaff-Ellis’s expertise in bespoke furniture design and craftsmanship. The reception desk brings together both ergonomic and commercial considerations whilst maintaining a uniquely beautiful organic form and we’re thrilled with the finished piece.

The desk is a stunning focal point for the airy reception area at Anderson Orr’s new Oddington Grange premises.

Maddy Bull, Interior Architect, says; ‘Our recently converted studios in North Oxfordshire originated as an assortment of charming, formerly agricultural brick barns. The extensive refurbishment we undertook accentuates many of the original features, including timber trusses, coffered concrete ceilings, and exposed brickwork.

For the Reception, it was important to introduce a centrepiece that really celebrates the character of the company, compliments the new premises, and delivers a dramatic yet understated aesthetic at the point of entry. A minimalist design – with fluidity of form, careful detailing, and high-quality materiality – the reception desk is a true work of art, and we are absolutely delighted with how Langstaff-Ellis have brought our concept to life’.

Discover another project with Anderson Orr >

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(Hu)man vs. Machine – The Best of Everything

Quite rightly, much recognition is given to our esteemed traditional craftsmen; we admire their artistry, their care, and the age-old skills that have been passed down through generations. For many it’s not a job, it’s a calling.

And in the bespoke joinery business, there’s an expectation that every aspect of a high-end commission will be hand-made by craftsmen – that’s what the client is paying for after all, isn’t it? Well actually, no.

We’d argue that the client is paying for the realisation of their vision, made with the finest materials and perfectly fitted to their home (with minimum disruption). And while entirely hand-made furniture is one way to achieve that end, it’s far from efficient. Traditional cabinet-making is remarkable, but it’s time-consuming and subject to human error, which makes it expensive.

We believe that true value comes from a marriage of traditional skills with precision machinery. Many cabinetmakers would love to shorten the process, to improve accuracy and efficiency and ensure they can offer a precise cost to customers at the start of a project while still delivering an outstanding job at the end of it.

“The machinery we use is linked directly to our design team’s CAD application, meaning they can create a design while simultaneously programming a machine for production”

We set out to do that from the beginning, investing heavily in the best possible equipment. Our workshop is packed with a formidable array of precision CNC machinery that’s guided by the CAD drawings created by our designers. In fact the machinery we use is linked directly to our design team’s CAD application, meaning they can create a design while simultaneously programming a machine for production.

This process gives us huge flexibility to produce unique and visionary designs that would be too time consuming and costly to make the traditional way while facilitating efficient production and quality assurance. Our team of cabinetmakers still assemble every piece of furniture by hand using traditional methods, and each piece is checked for quality by hand and eye before leaving the workshop. And the best result for the client? Installation times slashed.

Clients, architects and interior designers demand imagination, quality, flexibility and speed from modern furniture makers; our response has been to integrate new precision technologies with the craft of traditional methods.

It’s the best of both worlds.