Meet Judith, a 37-year-old interior designer originally from Germany, now residing in Brighton, UK, with her husband Timothy and son Philou. As the founder of Akuko Atelier, Judith combines her background in psychology with a passion for design, creating spaces that enhance well-being.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
Hello, I'm Judith. My childhood was a nomadic journey that stretched the globe. Moving around with my family I witnessed my mother's skill in transforming each house into a home using our belongings, paint, wallpapers, and her handmade curtains. Creating a home, even temporarily, was non-negotiable in our family. Interestingly, interior design was my childhood dream, but my parents believed I needed a love for math to succeed in it, creating an initial barrier. Fast forward two decades, I found myself in London after completing a Master's in the Psychology of Fashion. While running a successful online magazine Hajinsky on psychology, fashion and design, I noticed the uncommon practice in the UK of investing in making rentals feel like home. Visitors were amazed by our interiors, leading them to seek my help, marking the start of my journey as an interior designer.
We can spot a beautiful piece of belarteSTUDIO design in your home, the Contemporary Ornament in sky blue. How can wall murals lift a space according to you?
I've come to realize that many of my projects seamlessly incorporate murals. I personally undertook a project involving a geometric mural, showcasing my hands-on approach. Additionally, for our refugee home project, I collaborated with a London-based artist to bring a mural to life. My design philosophy revolves around crafting rooms with distinctive focal points, and I'm particularly captivated by using art to define a space's ambiance, color palette, and personality. Murals, in essence, serve both of these purposes. They create focal points while functioning as expansive, immersive art pieces.
You use psychology in your interior design projects to bring out full potential in a space. Explain more about this.
My expertise in psychology lies in cognition, and design is all about perception—a crucial cognitive process. Every design decision I make with an understanding of its implications on our sensory experiences. This knowledge makes it easier to help clients comprehend the reasoning behind each choice. Beyond aesthetics, I use my research skills to delve into clients' underlying desires. If a client shows me a trend they like, I help them uncover why they are drawn to it, exploring potential alternatives that may be more personalized. This approach extends to both aesthetic and functional preferences, giving me insight into how clients want to live and what their aspirational lifestyle is. Interior design, to me, is about problem-solving and creating spaces that allow people to develop their full potential.
You have done some amazing interior design projects in the past year, do you have a favorite and why?
Balancing my creative and professional endeavors with motherhood after welcoming my beautiful son two years ago, presented an entirely new set of challenges. To manage this, I shifted my focus in client projects towards remote design. While this allows me to work from home, the drawback is that I seldom witness the tangible outcomes of my digital design creations. Fortunately, I've found solace in hands-on decorating within my own rental home. Navigating the constraints of a rental, I've delved into renter-friendly hacks, channeling my energy into crafting distinctive furniture pieces.This might sound like an attempt to win over Belarte, but in all honesty, my dining room project stands out as my favorite. Not only did I transform Belarte Wallpaper into a stunning illusion of two framed paintings above our dining table, but my real pride lies in the uniquely designed dining chairs that I brought to life. I’m truly proud of them.
How do you integrate the popular phenomenon of do-it-yourself (DIY) and repurposing old items into your home or design projects, a practice you've been engaged in for some time?
While many assume I enjoy DIY, the truth is, I'm not a fan – not even a little bit. Strangely, though, I find myself constantly drawn to it. There are a few reasons for this enduring connection. Firstly, I have a deep appreciation for uniqueness. When I see something I like, my mind immediately considers potential tweaks or alterations. I aim for my possessions to convey a narrative and seamlessly fit into the conceptual world I've envisioned for them. This often leads to a dilemma – I can't always find what I envision, pushing me to take matters into my own hands. Additionally, engaging in DIY allows me to own items that would otherwise be out of my financial reach. While I aspire to collaborate more with skilled craftspeople to realise my ideas this year, my inherent experimental nature continually pulls me back to hands-on experimentation.
What is your ultimate dream project to work on?
Currently, I'm thrilled about diving into my local city, Brighton. While many of my past projects were overseas or in London, the potential of Brighton captivates me. Despite being a highly popular UK seaside town, the design scene seems to lag behind in my opinion. In contrast to the emerging boutique design hotels across Europe and the UK, that offer immersive experiences, Brighton's guest houses are still pretty basic. I'm eager to contribute to the transformation by rebranding and redesigning at least one of these spaces.
My passion also extends to innovative retail concepts. Local shops struggle to attract customers away from their screens. I believe retail can reinvent itself into immersive experiences that celebrate local culture and art, fostering connections among like-minded individuals. With my experience I would love to bring this essence to Brighton's independent retail sector.