An interview with Jarod Smith, International Interior Designer


Jarod Smith talks to us about his interior design work all over the world, his feelings working within the interior design industry including frustrations, a typical project and his latest appointment with Arteriors.

My style of interior design

I have been working as an interior designer for fourteen years. I don’t feel that I am especially unique in my work, I follow my Inchbald training. I research what is required and deliver that without imprinting myself upon it. My work is not predictable as I always aim to draw out the resident’s personality – however much I might disagree with what they like or want. It is a tactic that seems to work well and I find it a fascinating process. I pick up words or sentences from conversations and extrapolate from those but my work always includes an element of surprise too. I present these at the completion of the project and watch as the client’s eyes light up! I feel quite excited and that I have done my job well. The surprises have included an upturned row-boat suspended from the ceiling and a secret door to another room – clients are always delighted and have had no idea that this was coming.

My style of interior design

I have been working as an interior designer for fourteen years. I don’t feel that I am especially unique in my work, I follow my Inchbald training. I research what is required and deliver that without imprinting myself upon it. My work is not predictable as I always aim to draw out the resident’s personality – however much I might disagree with what they like or want. It is a tactic that seems to work well and I find it a fascinating process. I pick up words or sentences from conversations and extrapolate from those but my work always includes an element of surprise too. I present these at the completion of the project and watch as the client’s eyes light up! I feel quite excited and that I have done my job well. The surprises have included an upturned row-boat suspended from the ceiling and a secret door to another room – clients are always delighted and have had no idea that this was coming.

The Keys, Bel Air Villa, Portugal Interior Design by Jarod Smith

The Keys, Bel Air Villa, Portugal Interior Design by Jarod Smith

If clients live in a way that is not ergonomic then that is my bugbear – I am not an interior decorator and want to explore the ergonomics of the space not just apply fabric and paint. In my opinion true luxury is space and in my work I always create space either by actually increasing it or by creating a sense of space. This is most important to me and the emotional reaction from the client is always positive.

My idea type of client

My ideal client is someone who understands the integral role they play in the design process. I do prefer to work in the residential sector – I like to see how people live.

Projects I would not undertake

There aren’t any! If friends say “I can’t afford you” I will discount my fees for them as I would much rather someone benefit from my service. Also I know how to get the most from a budget and how to get hold of products at low prices. I lived in Portugal for a while and there you can get hold of tiles and faucets, for example, for a fraction of the cost you might pay in the UK.

Typical project

A very typical project is a villa in Portugal that I did for a rather well-known TV presenter and his wife – obviously we can’t publish their names. The initial stage was establishing what kind of look they wanted. We had several dinners together and during the conversations I showed them different library images – almost like flash cards. They decided Hamptons Chic was a look that they felt would suit them best. At the beginning they did not know what they wanted and this process of talking just shows the power of speaking to the client. They have two daughters who love to swim so the project included the landscaping and the poolscaping. I had to incorporate everything that was required and also what was not.

The surprise element

We worked off-plan and I had free scope to reposition walls and rearrange spaces. And, as this is definitely a party house and for my “surprise” for this client, with him being a wine buff, I installed a very small wine cellar. I filled it with rosé wine and he was most pleased.

The Keys, Bel Air Villa, Portugal. Semi-submerged poolside lounging area. Landscape/Poolscape Design by Jarod Smith.

The Keys, Bel Air Villa, Portugal. Semi-submerged poolside lounging area. Landscape/Poolscape Design by Jarod Smith.

I always look at the accessories people already have and then include versions of those in the scheme. This client had been given some watercolours by Prince Charles and so I included watercolours with the artwork.

The Keys, Bel Air Villa, Portugal. Bedroom. Interior Design by Jarod Smith.

The Keys, Bel Air Villa, Portugal. Bedroom. Interior Design by Jarod Smith.

Understanding the client – and the challenges presented

I had very welcome further insight into my client via his mother with whom I went to lunch. I got to understand a lot more about him including finding out about his love for toys. This led to my including matchbox cars being hung on the walls of the villa as part of the design scheme.

There were challenges on this project and one of these was my client’s ego which led to tussles on some elements of the specification where the client insisted as he was paying for it is was going to be done his way. An example of this was the tiles used for the swimming pool – he wanted blue (which is so predictable!) and I knew green would be so much more subtle and would pick up the surrounding landscape greenery. In the end the tiles were blue with a gold and green fleck so we reached a reasonable compromise.

Another challenge of working in Portugal is the “manyana” approach to timelines which is a direct contradiction to my client’s highly timetabled life. Any slippage on deadlines created huge knock-on problems.
My most common frustrations in being an interior designer

My biggest challenge is keeping up with new materials and finishes although it is a pleasant frustration. Having a concept, keeping it in mind and then employ its use means a lot to think about!

What skills are most important in an interior designer?

I would say listening.

Also finding new ways to use existing materials and finishes. For example I created a kitchen using mother-of-pearl for the doors. Mother-of-pearl is naturally very brittle and unsuitable for this purpose however in North Portugal I came across a unique surfaces company and together we created a solution. We flooded the Mother-of-pearl doors in epoxy which created a smooth surface with the Mother-of-pearl shining through. It is so robust it could be used as a worktop without fear of it crumbling.

My new adventure

I am now embarking on a very exciting phase as I have been appointed as the General Manager for the UK for Arteriors which are a large US company producing furniture, lighting and accessories. My role involves a lot of networking and attending events. I also get to work with some great interior designers whom we invite to design capsule ranges for us. The product range is lovely, very sculptural, and we produce 300 new products twice a year so the pace is pretty rapid. We love to use unexpected detailing and materials to create fresh designs. Our price point is very reasonable and we also offer a high level of support which is greatly welcomed so I am looking forward to working with a lot of interior designers on their projects.

Sitting room arrangement with a Mondrian Sculpture; Beck Chair; Salford Floor Lamp; Pascal and Ponce pendant; Turner Sofa; Kenton small and large coffee tables; Pitman vase and the Prudence Sculpture. All from Arteriors.

Sitting room arrangement with a Mondrian Sculpture; Beck Chair; Salford Floor Lamp; Pascal and Ponce pendant; Turner Sofa; Kenton small and large coffee tables; Pitman vase and the Prudence Sculpture. All from Arteriors.

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