A Cool London Design Duo Talk Style & Inspiration
A Cool London Design Duo Talk Style & Inspiration

A Cool London Design Duo Talk Style & Inspiration

In this series, we ask creatives and tastemakers in the interiors industry what inspires them – from travel to food, films to books and even people. Here, furniture and lighting designer duo Julia Ransom and Johanna Dunn, co-founders of Ransom & Dunn, tell us more about their style and how it’s evolved over the years.

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How would you describe your style?

Julia: Collected and classic yet bold and sexy – I love a little bit of glitz and glamour. 

Johanna: Refined, curated and, yes, always subtly sexy.

When were you first aware you had a specific taste?

Julia: From a very young age, probably around six – my earliest memories are from films and TV shows. I was drawn to the way the characters dressed (like Linda Evans in Dallas) and also the interiors (the California ranch and Boston brownstone in the original Parent Trap for example). I was always obsessed with fashion and, much to my mother's disapproval, longed for white faux-fur coats and knee-high patent boots from the age of seven. 

Johanna: We always joked at home that I was possibly the youngest ever Vogue subscriber. I've loved fashion, art and design from as early as I can remember and have always had my own point of view, whether it was how I dressed or decorated my bedroom.


When did you first realise you were artistic or design minded?

Julia: I started to take art lessons at age seven and loved working with lots of different media – oils, acrylics, pastels and watercolours. I made collages and painted the walls of my room a different colour every year. As a child and even into my adult years, I created paintings as presents for friends and family. I always furnished my apartments in New York with vintage furniture – way before it was fashionable to do so and the Pinterest boom. 

Johanna: I grew up loving art and painting, especially. It has always been an outlet for me. I was able to take incredible courses, from drawing to painting to metalsmithing, at school, but my creative side has been there forever – it’s always what I gravitated towards in my free time. I realised my love of design through the lasting impact interiors had on me, starting in my teenage years when I began travelling.

Who was the first person to make an impression on you? And who inspires you today?

JuliaElsa Peretti is an icon and will always be an inspiration to me because of her unique and timeless vision. I also love the world and work of Fabrizio Casiraghi. My other favourite interior designers include Clements DesignIrakli ZariaCasa Munoz and Alyssa Kapito. From a business perspective, it's pretty impressive and inspiring what Holly Hunt has achieved. 

Johanna: Definitely my grandmother, who is still here at 94. She has such timeless and impeccable taste – from her clothing to her home and her art. Everything is very curated – periods are mixed but after decades it all still works, and that to me is the definition of great design. Pieter Mulier’s latest designs for Alaïa and the way he creates his own interiors are also very inspiring. There’s Ana Khouri for her jewellery that is at the level of sculpture. I’m also still very much about Elsa Peretti, Luis Laplace and Charles Zana.


What made you decide to pursue a design career?

Julia: After finishing a course at the Inchbald School of Design, I decided I would rather pursue product design than go down the traditional interior design path. Now, after launching our brand, we are being asked to do projects, which is something we see as an extension of the business. Johanna and I believed there was a gap in the market for our gallery-like pieces, including the way we showcase them and who we collaborate with. 

Johanna: I came from a luxury retail background and had done everything from merchandising to marketing and partnerships. What I believed was missing in the market was a homeware and lifestyle brand that was bold and aspirational, as well as attainable. I knew I wanted to create this, and Julia and I shared this vision.

Which country do you find inspiring and why?

Julia: It’s a really hard question as I love to visit so many countries within Europe, but I would probably say Italy is an all-around favourite. It’s so diverse: cosmopolitan cities, rustic countryside, crumbling baroque architecture in the south and Sicily – and incredible food, of course. I haven't been to Turin yet and would love to visit. 

Johanna: Turkey. I love places with thousands of years of history, culture and architecture. The people are the best hosts, too. They are incredible makers and have the most beautiful coastline that not everyone knows about.


Is there anything you collect?

Julia: I own a lot of collectible design pieces and a fair amount of contemporary art, but also love antiquing to seek out those hidden gems – the pieces that make a home special. They can take years to find, so I'm working on it...  

Johanna: Design, art and jewellery are the things I am most drawn to – not only as an expression of my own style but a mark of respect for the creators.

What book has made the most impact on you?

Julia: I wish I read more, but I would probably say one of my favourites is Bret Easton Ellis's Glamorama for the depiction of 90s New York.

JohannaThe Great Gatsby for the characters and decadence, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved for her almost supernatural ability to recreate and relive moments in history. I have stopped and started Love in the Time of the Cholera – I am making it my mission to finish it this year before I start anything else.

Do you play music while you work?

Julia: We both love music and have the same taste and vibe when we are on the road together visiting our suppliers. I love it all, but probably would say I'm a rock ’n’ roll girl at heart. There's nothing like seeing music live – it's something I did much more of during my New York days, but the concerts in Hyde Park in the summer are great. 

Johanna: I grew up outside Detroit so everything from Motown to classic rock and house music feel like they are part of my DNA. Julia and I have a shared love of music, so it’s always on when we’re working or showcasing our collections.


What's your favourite London restaurant?

JuliaThe River Cafe is a classic, and I love the other institutions, too – J SheekeyThe WolseleyThe Ivy (the original one on West Street) and Bentley’s.

Johanna: China Tang and The River Cafe are my favourites.

Which fellow creators do you admire?

Julia: I like what smaller brands like Hunting Season and Attersee are doing.

Johanna: For me, it’s Charles ZanaPierre HardyAna KhouriDanh Vo and Phoebe Philo.

Which brand do you wish was yours?

Julia: Probably Hermès.

Johanna: I love Loewe and Byredo – but we always try not to look too much at what others are doing.

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