We had the good fortune of connecting with Benjamin Johnston and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Benjamin, what is the most important factor behind your success?
We listen to what our clients need and live by the mantra that ‘form follows function.’ I came to design by way of architecture and that journey was quite effective in drilling that mantra into my head! I have a deep and abiding love of the maximalist nature of luxury, texture, and history, but an equal respect for the minimalist notion that everything must have a reason. When we, as a firm, embark on a new project with a client, I invite the home and clients to speak first – do they have a crazy and chaotic home or is the pace slower? What do their daily activities necessitate and what are they looking for in their home? These facets of everyday living inform how we approach design for every client. Once we’ve nailed down the functionality of the space, we can direct our attention to the fun stuff like calling on global inspiration for furnishings and decor. I had the great fortune of studying and working overseas in Europe, North Africa, and Japan, but I felt a strong calling to return home and speak the language I speak best – architecture and design. I strongly believe that having the opportunity to experience so many parts of the globe has left me uniquely suited to translate the needs and wants of our clientele, most of whom are connoisseurs of the world as well. I saw an opening and felt that I was well-suited to meet Houston’s demand for interiors that are classic, curated, and cool. I am incredibly passionate about home design and appreciate that I am able to lead a team of other creatives, ensuring that our clients are wrapped in functional, luxurious, and personalized spaces that boast a dash of something distinctive borne from our diversity of experience.
Let’s talk shop! Tell us more about what you’re up to. What can you share with our community?
The path to this point has had twists and turns along the way, but I wouldn’t trade a thing. With nearly 20 years of experience behind me, I realize all of those important lessons that I learned along the way enabled and prepared me for the career I have today. I am passionate about making Houston more beautiful and I have a lot more to contribute. I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is that there is no shortcut to building a successful creative business. Referrals are everything, so doing your best work every day and providing exceptional service will result in successes that eventually grow your network of referral sources over time. The busy firm I manage today is built on 20 years of referrals – a very palpable measure of client satisfaction that I’m incredibly proud of!
A little something fun we’re excited to share: our first formally licensed collection with Madison Lily Rugs launches soon. We’ve collaborated with their team to bring my vision of vibrant, rich, textural designs to life in the form of exquisitely crafted custom rugs that are beautiful enough to hang on your wall!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Some of my favorite places to bring out of town guests include the Menil Collection and the MFAH. Hermann Park and Memorial Park are also a great way to spend an afternoon exploring and people watching. For shopping, I’d hit up some of my favorite antique stores like Moxie and Reeves Antiques. Etro is a must-shop destination in the River Oaks District, along with all of the other amazing brands that are represented there. And for food, Houston’s endless options would ensure that we’d never go hungry. I’d be sure to hit up Ginger & Fork for Cantonese style cooking, Pappasitos for Mexican, Uchi and Nobu for sushi and Brookstreet for Texas BBQ.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This shoutout definitely goes to my team, as well as to the amazing builders, architects and vendors that enable me to do what I love. It truly does take a village to bring beautiful design to life. My career began with a transition from architecture to restaurant design, which led to a request to design a banquette in someone’s home. That led to designing the room next to the banquette, and so on. My business would never have been able to organically evolve the way that it has without the people I work with daily! From those initial restaurant clients who saw my potential in home design to the incredible team who helps me execute the vision I have on a daily basis, all are deeply consequential to my story. When you approach this work as a service, and our roles as being in the service industry, the moving parts and your co-workers are all that much more important! I love providing the opportunity for people to create beauty in their everyday lives and am ever grateful for the team that makes it work!
Other: https://www.pinterest.com/designerbenj/ https://www.houzz.com/pro/ben-johnston_design/benjamin-johnston-design
Benjamin Johnston portrait — Julie Soefer Photography Benjamin Johnston 1 — Benjamin Johnston Benjamin Johnston 2 — Benjamin Johnston Benjamin Johnston 3 — Benjamin Johnston Benjamin Johnston 4 — Julie Soefer Photography Benjamin Johnston 5 — Benjamin Johnston Benjamin Johnston 6 — Julie Soefer Photography Benjamin Johnston 7 — Jack Thompson Photography