Clear, geometric shapes; concrete and stainless steel features; white high-gloss fronts that perfectly blend in with the warmth of the oak parquet flooring; and a space flooded with natural light: this elegant kitchen in one of her customers’ home in Hannover looks so bright and spacious, it makes you not just want to start cooking, but to live in it. To create a space that looks as charming and impressive in real life on a relaxed evening with friends as it does on a Pinterest wall – this is Julia White’s aim.
The person behind the name is an extraordinarily remarkable talent, the co-founder and interior designer of the brand wit & voi. She believes that engaging the services of an interior designer should not solely be a privilege of high-earners. With her company, Julia White makes it possible for anyone to access the luxury of a professional interior designer for their own home. Driven by her love and passion for design, architecture and aesthetics, Julia White co-founded her start-up in 2015 together with a friend. The company provides services that are personal and customised as well as sophisticated and high quality – and most importantly are affordable. In this article, this trailblazer in the field of interior design tells us about the pioneering concept which she brought to the industry in Germany. She also talks about her professional journey and her illimitable passion for creating.
To understand how wit & voi revolutionised interior design you need to take a quick look at “classic interior decoration”. Unlike the way it’s done at wit & voi, conventional interior design services involve a rather elaborate and tedious process. The designers not only create a customised layout for their customers, they also select the appropriate decorations and accessories, discuss and finalise them with their customers and either buy all the furniture items or have them custom made. The last step in particular costs the interior designer something very important: time. And this extra time and effort often also involves high costs. It is here that the wit & voi concept comes into play. Julia White and her team create a flexible model for each customer – customised according to their specific requirements.
The experts design the customer’s desired space or even the entire home in their unique, individual style by creating mood boards and spatial layouts and researching the best-suited furniture items. There is, however, one crucial difference: “The fundamental aspect of our interior design concept is to keep it affordable, which is why the customers are able to order items themselves and at their own pace.” They are also the ones who decide whether or not to accept a particular suggestion and how many hours the designer should put in. “We remove ourselves from this last step because it is this very process of ordering items that usually makes the services of an interior designer so expensive.” The consultation service covers home styling concepts, interior design and office design.
As early as in her teens, Julia White knew that her observational skills and three-dimensional imagination as well as her aesthetic sense were perfectly suited to the architecture industry. She had an eye for detail. It was mainly during her time in New York that she gathered her know-how and inspiration. She lived there for eight years, worked in various architectural firms and learned to observe trends outside the mainstream. She found her true calling in one of the smaller firms, where she was involved in the entire renovation concept and planning for a townhouse. “We tore everything down and did a complete renovation. Of course, it all comes down to the right combination of layout and an overall harmonious composition. Working on this extensive project made me realise that I found interior design much more exciting than architecture. You get to work with so many different colours and surfaces, but most importantly you also get to handle an entire structure”, says White enthusiastically. She fell in love with interior design while handling these projects. Back in Berlin, she initially worked as an interior decorator until queries for help from within her personal circle brought things to a turning point: “Many friends would ask where to find specific items such as a particular lamp or a comfortable sofa. This reminded me of a concept that has been around in New York and Los Angeles for a very long time. The idea here is to try to make interior design more accessible and affordable to people who would otherwise not be keen on bearing the costs of such services. The idea of wit & voi was born.”
The actual concept is as follows: First, the customers answer a style questionnaire, from which White and her team prepare a mood board based on these basic parameters and customer preferences. This mood board gives an overview of various furnishing styles, materials and fabrics etc. which in the experts’ view are perfect for the customer. One-on-one consultation remains the most important thing for this visionary interior designer – and for that reason, the experts meet the customers, if possible at home or in the space that needs to be designed. “This is the only time we personally meet the customer; it is, therefore, an extremely important step in getting to know each other, understanding the small details and personality traits of the customer, explaining our concept and laying their fears about hidden costs to rest. Moreover, this gives the designer the opportunity to better understand and get the feel of the spaces.” Based on the mood board, the questionnaire and the home visit, wit & voi prepares a customised interior design concept with product collages, drawings and 3D renderings. This step brings together the composition of colours, materials and textures and also generates product images, collages and ambient backgrounds to make it easier for the customer to visualise the final furnished space. A shopping list including online links is also generated along with the interior design concept. “As designers we reduce interior design down to its basic, essential activity – the rest is done by the people themselves.” Any favourite or preferred items already specified by the customer are integrated by the founder into the concept along with the latest trends and styles – this creates a unique combination of design pieces and furniture which the customer already loves. Functionality is just as important as visual appeal – one should complement the other. “It’s a bit like a puzzle. You need to keep trying out options and then design, because ultimately it must all work together. This very challenge, however, is the best part about this work”, explains White. One of the projects that is closest to the heart of this adopted Berliner is a kitchen designed completely in dark colours. The reason why in her own words: “Kitchens need no longer be finished in sterile, immaculate white. In modern structures, they have become a place where people like to spend time and live in, and therefore it should exude an atmosphere of well-being and comfort”. A combination of different materials such as linoleum coated fronts in anthracite, oak veneer, powder-coated steel and grey walls lend a distinct character to the space. White talks about the smooth texture of linoleum, which contrasts with the thrice oiled solid oak wood – Scandinavian chic meets rustic interiors. What this illustrious interior designer loved the most about this project was the cooperation with various artisans and craftsmen, and also the customer itself – this work brought her back to her roots.
There are a thousand different trends “that are driven by culture, living space and, of course, individual taste”. White focuses on the basics in combination with different trends. The best, most impressive results of interior design are achieved when different styles are combined with each other. “Certain styles, such as Scandinavian design, can be used without a second thought because it’s nice and pleasing to the eye. With the more extravagant styles, you need to be careful yet bold, else you’re done for. In this case, it’s more art than interior design.” What is her latest recommendation? The new Milano style: “Lots of colours, a blend of pastel hues and earthy tones combined with striking geometrical shapes, such as arches and zig-zag patterns.” This trend can be perfectly blended with the extremely simple and uncomplicated Scandinavian style by simply incorporating a few trendy items into this plain, minimalistic design.
We wanted to know some interior design tips which anyone could apply in a few simple steps. We didn’t have to ask White twice. This pioneer in the interior design industry places great emphasis on creating a big impression with less effort and expenditure. Colour accents or even complete accent walls. This works beautifully with the new Milano style of design as well -- through colour blocking or mixing different shapes and interesting materials such as terrazzo. “The internet is a wonderful source of inspiration, for instance the work of the Herz & Blut team.”
The current colour trends are rust red, dark blue and mustard yellow. If this is all too awkward for you, White has a more flexible tip: “I love drapes and curtains”. These help to create large colourful zones easily and conveniently. “Curtains move easily and are an extremely soft element. Because of their vertical alignment, they also make a space look larger. And when you’re tired of them, you can simply swap them or even take them down altogether, – without having to repaint half the house. Another option could be hanging drapes in front of a wall.”
One of White’s favourite interior design items are bookshelves, which needn’t necessarily be stacked with books. We had to ask: What does a bookshelf without books look like? “A shelf stacked with books from top to bottom looks quite massive and overwhelming. So, you need to create a sense of space by placing some photos or vases of your choice which give the whole unit a homogeneous appearance.” This way you can give a space a completely new look.
Sometimes you can create a completely new sense of space by making small changes in the setting. The expert interior designer not only knows how to transform a space but also how to draw all eyes to your favourite decor pieces. She explains how our Avoury One tea machine perfectly fits in with any space – it is, after all, more than just a kitchen appliance, it conveys a lifestyle: “Its modern and fluid design is very appealing.” It fits perfectly in an open, design-oriented interior concept. For those who value that certain “je ne sais quoi” quality in a kitchen. “Classic colours make it easy for this tea machine to blend in with any decor.” Because of its stylish design Avoury One could very well also sit on a sideboard as a trendy designer piece. Versatile design that goes perfectly with masculine as well as feminine styles – a true eye-catcher.Avoury One Tea machine
What is the future going to look like for wit & voi? The future is bright and promising, “the projects are going to become more extensive”, says White. The dark-themed kitchen for instance, which is one of her favourite projects, was custom made – something that is increasingly becoming a trend of its own. This talented designer is happy about it because this gives her the opportunity to stay true to her roots in architecture while making long strides in the field of interior design.