Lately I’ve become besotted with the elegant and soulful Facebook and Instagram feed of Swansea based interior design service the No 8 Project which has been like stepping into the cosiest of Toast catalogues. Thrillingly it is in-fact the creation of Toast’s ex-senior designer Tamsin Leech-Griffiths (she has also designed for Loxley England and Paul Smith).
Tamsin has an amazing eye for mixing vintage pieces with modern rustic colour palettes to create interiors full of character. For me the most difficult look to achieve in interiors is a restrained one – because absolutely every element from hardware to paint texture needs to be just right.
Examples of No.8 Project’s work include the transformation of the Langland Cove B&B in Mumbles from a traditional seaside B&B into a chic boutique destination, to a complete overhaul of a run-down village Barbershop to a sophisticated gentleman’s club.
The No 8 Project also has a great Instagram feed that gives behind the scenes insight into its projects, especially sourcing of unique pieces for each client. Read on to get to know Tamsin and tips on how to get her look!
Can you tell us about your work background?
My professional background is fashion. I studied for my degree at Derby University, and during the course I spent time with Paul Smith and Toast for work experience. When I graduated Toast wanted me back and I loved the aesthetic and quality of their collections so it felt right. In the early days it was just myself, and the design director so I learnt a lot and quickly moved up the ranks to Senior Designer. I was with them for 13 years and I would say that my design and Toast were very much entwined – not sure if they inspired me, or I helped shape them! My time with Toast allowed me to design collections for both women and men and travel the world to find inspiration, source products and style photo shoots.
In my last two years with the company I headed up the homewear division and it really enforced my love of interiors. When they moved to London I couldn’t bear to leave Swansea where I have established my family, friends and home so I took the plunge and set up my own design consultancy. I have been mainly working on interior projects but kept my hand in fashion, working for a British company called Loxley and I have recently taken on the womenswear design and styling for Howies. I mainly do my own interiors but also work occasionally with Hannah Lohan in hotels around the world.
Where does the inspiration for your very particular aesthetic come from?
My aesthetic has very much evolved about me and I guess it has a strong sense of Toast as I lived and breathed it for a big chunk of my career! Indeed, a recent guest at a B and B I designed commented to the owner that her stay had made her feel like she was living a Toast Photo shoot! She was unaware of the link! My style and ethos is now developing beyond my Toast routes and I would say that I have a slightly masculine edge to my design. I love working with texture and form and I am a fan of using natural materials in a contemporary fashion.
I love to combine vintage with modern and my work has to have personality.
Tell us about Swansea in terms of design – what do you love about the scene there? What do you do to find inspiration?
Swansea has natural beauty in abundance, wild wind swept beaches, beautiful Victorian parks and my favourite thing is waking up every morning looking at the sea – all inspire me every day. There are neighbourhoods of grand late Victorian and Edwardian houses that are now being brought back to life as people increasingly appreciate their design and return them to their intended glory, including my own home. The city did suffer extensive bombing during the Second World War and the truth is many parts of the town have never really found their feet again, but there is a sense that things are picking up, with new bars and places to eat.
It’s sometimes what a place doesn’t have that inspires you to create and seek out more! As people increasingly appreciate good design and new ideas, I am creating a niche presence in interiors that is not ‘glitzy’ or ‘shabby chic’. I love to work with British design as much as possible and have commissioned quite a lot of artwork locally. We have a great gallery that has recently re opened – The Glynn Vivian and I attend the degree shows to seek out emerging talent. I’m also surrounded by some very creative friends whose skills I like to draw on such as the photographer Craig George and the artist Sian McGill.
How did you get started in interiors/styling?
When I decided not to follow Toast to London, it was a defining moment. I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I was being creative but I needed to create my own opportunities and re-invent myself and go it alone. My love of interiors and creative mind naturally lead me in this direction and the support of my brilliant and nurturing husband has kept me on track! My customers are mostly coming to me by word of mouth and because I’m offering a style that they relate to but struggle to achieve. It’s more of a lifestyle service than a catalogue look!
Describe your aesthetic.
Clean, calm, strong and contemporary, with a personality.
Tell us about some of your projects?
I have had some really varied work since I began! I have styled cabinets in a Hotel in Vienna, designed the concept of seven trampoline parks (rolling out later this year!), a barbers shop, pilates studio and lots of hotel and residential work but I think the project that still holds my heart is the Langland Cove B and B. It was my first big project and the owners (now good friends) were just so receptive. I was able to make my first really big design stamp.
Get The No 8 Project’s Look!
Sam at My Old Mirror does the most amazing made to measure mirrors and hand delivers. I’m currently lusting after this sofa from Galvin Brothers their craftsmanship is on another level and delivery is from the maker. The woven jute baskets and rugs from The Braided Rug are brilliant and I have used them extensively I’m a fan of the black and white baskets for styling and storage. Anything by Tori Murphy would sit happily in my house!This is a real secret giveaway but I have found a brilliant vintage artwork Seller on Ebay who I keep a watchful eye on and have got some real beauties! I’m always falling for bits from The Peanut Vendor and have often used them in projects.
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org