Born in Cape Town, designer Christopher Jenner has lived all over the globe — Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Paris — before settling in London, where three years ago he opened his eponymous design studio. Jenner’s projects, which include a series of boutiques for the likes of Diptyque and Penhaligon’s, as well as creative director for EuroStar, always boast wild but considered mixes of materials, patterns, and styles. Juxtapositions the designer says he learned how to conciliate not least from growing up in South Africa.
You grew up in South Africa, with its African and Anglo-Saxon colonial traditions. Has this influenced your love for mixing patterns in your work? If so, how?
In as much as giving me the ability to appreciate a broader spectrum of influence then yes. However I think African design needs to move beyond the current impasse. African designers need to look within to establish a personal style, informed by providence not dictated by it.
Before settling in London you’ve lived in HongKong, Paris, and Tel Aviv. Can you name one thing (architectural or otherwise) that you particularly loved about each of these places?
Hong Kong is off the wall, I love its energy, it’s similar to New York and Shanghai. But I am afraid the pollution is way too bad now. Paris, where does one start? The home of luxury, ambitious craft and inimitable style. Tel Aviv is a planned Modernist City, designed and built by the exiled talent of Bauhaus Germany. A special Architectural heritage, sandwiched between the Mediterranean and the Levant with a fantastic climate and heaps of potential. You just have to love Palestinian food don’t you?
Richard Meier famously lives in a NewYork brownstone with lots of antiques. Very much unlike the houses he designs for his clients. How “on brand” is your own home? Can you describe its style?
My home is a reflection of me, it is not a project. I’ve have some special ethnographic pieces, they add an emotive, crafted character. I’d describe the style as Ethnographic Materialism.
Are there colours or patterns one absolutely shouldn’tmix?
Colour is the greatest challenge of a designer, it’s a process of endless discovery, there are many mistakes to be experienced. Pattern is more subjective, it’s essentially a cultural manifestation, there is no good or bad pattern but there is inappropriate context.
Is there an era you love more than others? (Victorian, ArtNouveau, Mid-century Modern…)
At the moment I’m looking at how structure defines form. Art Nouveau is coming up all over the place. Russian Style Modern is a special interpretation of this period. Victorian Gothic as a reflection of English ambition. If you were forced to do a project in one pattern only, which would it be? You just can’t force it can you?
Do you like patterned socks? (You’re not wearing any in the pictures)
Love patterned socks, it’s a great way to add personality without making too much of a statement.
What does a typical day in the life of Christopher Jenner look like? Any behavioral patterns you would like to get rid of, or improve on?
Endless work, trying to eat well and making progress. I wish I drank more water, but I never have the inclination…
Do you remember the first time you discovered Missoni? (When? Where? On whom?) What did you like about it?
I probably first came across Missoni reading British Vogue when I was a teenager in South Africa. I loved the colour and pattern immediately, a totally instinctive decision. The Missoni story is about an Italian family on a creative journey, you don’t get much more quintessentially Italian than that do you? There is immense creative potential in the Missoni story and a wonderful expression of craft which are values we as a studio appreciate.
London or Paris?
London is the centre of the world.
Paris or Milan?
Thats a loaded question…
Polo or Rugby?
Rugby – Viva South Africa Viva
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee to wake, Tea to hydrate.
Loafers or sneakers?
I’m not old enough for Loafers.
Sweater or sweatshirt?
Sweater – it’s cold in London.
Leather or lace?
You can make lace from leather.
Gaga or Miley?