Jason Bonham has had a career in interior design spanning more than 20 years, which sent him to London, San Francisco and New York City. He launched Bonham Interior in 2008 and it has grown to catering for some big national and international names.With that chase for the detail, uniqueness and, quality and proportion. An avid object and art collector, Bonham certainly has an eye for beauty. As well as running his own business, he also mentors and judges in design, and sits on industry advisory boards. He is a professional member of the NKBA and the Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ).
How would you describe a typical day for you?
I’ve always been an early bird, so I’m usually up and out, starting at the gym then walking Flint (my Dog) around the park. I head to office and do most of my design time in the mornings, I always hit a wall around 3pm.. so the creative is always done when I’m fresh. I have many client, site, supplier and trade meetings during the day so it’s a case of managing time slots and getting to meetings on time…. I like to be busy and work well under pressure. Evenings are spent usually with friends and family (or early nights on occasion). I have a lovely network of great people so I love to be active socially and also to entertain. Although, I don’t cook that well.
How do you define great design?
An extension of the client. At BONHAM we do not cookie cut, each design and project is approached differently, every client is unique, so must be the design.
If you have not captured the soul and feeling of the client in the design, you haven’t done your job. The best design is always the one that reflects the owner and has a harmonious enduring quality.
What kind of questions do you ask before beginning a design project? Which piece of information is of utmost value?
We have an extensive series of questions related to each space of the project, we work through these systematically to establish a very clear and concise brief. The brief is our most essential documentation, if you don’t understand how a client lives, functions and what’s important to them you cannot start the design process.
Is there a certain New Zealand aesthetic that you could define?
There’s a strong industrial trend here in New Zealand that’s been around for a while. I guess it’s an extension of our surroundings and I understand the want for a natural look and for natural materials like concrete wood, but I’d really like to see some more freedom with design, some playfulness with colour, graphic prints and quality luxurious textures – let’s push some boundaries! That’s why I love the luxury projects where our clients want something different, luxury with and edge is my sweet spot.
What inspires you?
I’m an avid art collector, I love art, it’s a huge part of what we do and how we curate and configure space. I also travel several times during the year, I try to pick a place I haven’t been to and immerse myself in the culture, art, food, colour, language, it gives me creative flow and new detail to my work.
What as the moment you knew what you wanted to do as a career?
I was originally going to train as an architect, Lego was a staple go-to toy growing up, I used to build fantastic houses, however as I got older I really fell in love with beautiful things, art and objets d’art, so I felt compelled to follow my heart into interior architecture. I find the interior design process a very intimate experience, finding one-of-a-kind pieces, discovering new things, and getting making friendships along the way.
What’s been the hardest moment in your career?
Business is full of highs and lows, but I had a client a couple of years ago who let me down badly, I nearly lost my home, my business, everything. Having started the company from the ground up – in my family basement, everything was at risk and that was incredibly tough. But you learn to push though, not to dwell on the negative, and realise, its only stuff, and you can always make it back with talent, a good attitude and hard work.
What’s been the greatest?
Meeting and dealing with amazing people. I really love my work, I get to create every day and make people’s homes beautiful. It’s very rewarding to see a space finished and clients happy in an environment where I’ve captured their essence.
How do you get unstuck creatively?
Sleep!!! You have to keep your mind sharp and focused when designing, it’s the smallest details that make all the difference.
What do you want people to see in your work now?
BONHAM curates art, design and furniture to create spaces that are truly unique. The key is to make a home feel relaxed, accessible, and bespoke, even with the most extraordinary furniture, art and object. Quality and craftsmanship should never be compromised.
How do you hope people will look back on your work in a 100 years?
I like to think of BONHAM as beyond trends, trends fade, but quality and style last. I aim for longevity in our designs, I would hope that people look at our work and it still feel beautiful, relevant and contemporary.
How do you balance work & life?
Exercise, good diet and sleep. I’m very active with work and socially so it’s always good to exercise in the morning to achieve a clear head, eat well and get enough rest. I try to get away for weekends as often as possible being amongst nature, by the beach or walking in a forest to rebalance and reset. I also love to ride motorbikes, so I also find this a nice escape.
What’s the best piece of advice that you have been given?
The only feeling you leave people with, is how you made them feel.
What is your life motto?
Work hard, Love hard, keep a good attitude, be quick to forgive, be kind always.
Images from Bonham Interiors