Persona Abode Interiors exists to help people create healthier home environments. Jecks Stone, the founder and interior designer, has many years of experience working in building conservation and is one of the UK’s four certified vegan designers (with vegandesign.org). After finishing her interior designer diploma with distinction, she also studied repairing and maintaining buildings at the world’s renowned Westdean College. Jecks work is to create spaces for wellness and kinder living.
These days we need a Ph.D. to understand the groups of chemicals that appear throughout our homes and disrupt our hormone or endocrine systems. Phthalates can impair fertility, PFAS can affect pregnancy, and flame retardants can interfere with child development – the triple crown of toxicity.
Chemicals are everywhere, from our furniture to our bed linen, and topped up by the animal-derived substances, it is no surprise that these compounds can affect us to some degree.
Especially recently, due to the pandemic, homes – for most of us – have become the centre of our lives, providing us a safe place to live, work and entertain.
Throughout her career of thirteen years, Jecks has worked in building conservation, making sure medieval buildings are in good enough shape to still be used today. As a result, she has developed a deep understanding of architecture and its influence on home interiors.
Professionals like Jecks can guide us through all this toxic jargon & create a space for our wellness to breathe easy, heal, or continue to live our best healthy life.
I caught up with the designer online, hoping to hear how she manages to create spaces that feel like an urban oasis in our fast-paced world.
Jecks, can you tell us a little about yourself and your company, Persona Abode Interiors?
I’m a trained interior designer based in South London and my concentration is on creating space for wellness to thrive. It’s been 14 years since I relocated from the Midlands and four years since I started Persona Abode by accident. At the time I was still studying, a client found me and it felt right to birth my own business.
I’m at the start of this business journey so the foundations are being laid, but my intention with interior design was always to create environments that were holistically beneficial. I first craved design as a career when I came across holistic interior design. I was exploring colour therapy and somehow found my way to a course that fulfilled my interest of implementing colour and so much more.
Prior to landing in London I worked in commercial recycling management and have always had the state of the environment weigh heavily on my mind. Then arrived conservation architecture, also by accident, but the knowledge I’ve built up over 13 years has been very useful to interior design.
The reasoning behind the name Persona Abode is simply to give your home a persona, but the picture is bigger than filling homes beautifully.
Why did you decide to specialise as wellness and kind living interior designer, and what does it entail in the design process? Why is it important?
I guess my interest starts somewhere between my lifestyle, my health, life experiences and looking at the Interior Design industry. When I was studying I didn’t feel comfortable solely designing for frivolity when it became clear our environments play a part on health and well-being.
I’ve had allergies since I was little, being super sensitive to pollutants in the air made me take notice of my environment. I’ve had to be careful in terms of what chemicals filled they air, whether air fresheners or deodorant, so it was a matter of being inquisitive about pollutants that made me aware of some issues other people face.
In terms of kinder living, again, you’ll have to blame my curiosity. I had noticed an increase in the popularity of vegan diets. At the time I had little intention of adopting this lifestyle but I had wondered whether it had reached the interior design industry. There was very little information but through a podcast I heard of a new course teaching the true atrocities of using animals in interiors. It was uncomfortable for the obvious reasons. It left me feeling at this was the right avenue to pursue, not only did it rest easier on my conscience but also because of the impacts it has on communities and the environment.
I can’t ignore the long term implications of designing a space even when ultimately I don’t have the final say. So I suggest alternatives that don’t compromise the design, yet have positive benefits.
How do you incorporate the vegan and cruelty-free concept in the design process?
It’s quite natural to incorporate more humane concepts into the process. It’s the way I chose to go about my life so it’s somewhat of a habit to consider alternatives to using animal based products.
When I initially meet with a potential client, there’s hints in the conversation on their stances in terms of being vegan or cruelty free. As we get to know each other over the course of more interactions I find natural ways to flesh out their thoughts and feelings on the matter. The mention of leather often does the trick, or talking about diet.
Right now cruelty free is more palatable to the consumer, regardless if they’re a meat eater or not, so the conversation is received better. When introducing ideas and more so with products, I make a point of highlighting where alternatives have been sourced and why they fit the brief best.
How do you combine beauty and function while designing a space with compassion and wellness in mind?
Especially in terms of function, compassion and wellness are important components. To truly create a space that functions well for its users, their wellness needs to be addressed. Making design decisions that may hinder someones ability to navigate the space in a safe and healthy manner means it lacks in function. It’s the difference between a room being used or not.
As they say beauty is not skin deep. This is how I feel about creating designs that are visually attractive, its merely one aspect that makes it beautiful. The make up or bones of the design add to the beauty too.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
It’s a matter of engaging with my senses when it comes to inspiration. There’s particularly something about sound that stimulates my thoughts so I listen to a lot of music. Also paying close attention to sounds, smells and ways of nature.
Listening to the arrangement of voice mingling with instruments provokes memories and starts to build up pictures in my head. When I work, listening to music focuses my attention the most and opens up my creative nature. For some reason it’s amplified when my headphones are on.
Also, although currently restricted, going to art galleries or museums are an endless stream of inspiration. Beyond viewing the body of work in an exhibit, places like this allow your mind to expand. I think about the past or the about possibilities of the future in museums. In art galleries it’s more to do with exploring the ways I interpret what I see in fact of me and thinking about how the world is viewed through the artist’s eye.
Once I’ve left, my mind races with possibilities to apply to projects. I start to roughly piece together the feeling and emotions I what to draw out for the environment and link that back to the client and their ambitions, needs and wants.
What is your favourite project to date, and why?
Hmmm. I don’t know if I have a favourite overall. I generally have fun on most projects because I get to learn something new every-time. I enjoy opportunities to problem solve and thankfully each project throws up different dilemmas that need a unique solution. It’s the same situation working on Listed buildings, no two projects are the same so there’s no one size fits all answer.
Plus, there’s different aspects of projects that are rewarding. For example, one project, an office design was designed to house a collection of Sci-fi memorabilia. I admittedly don’t know my Star Wars from my Star Trek but it was fun exploring ways of housing a collection and getting a feeling of futurism into an office space.
Which room should people look to transform first in their homes, and what advice would you give them?
I always recommend starting with bedrooms. It’s the place where we rest, ease stresses on our body and mind and so much more. During renovations to the rest of the house, it’s your saving grace from the chaos around you, a somewhat private space to escape to up everything is upside down.
Children’s bedrooms are important too, they are places where a child’s imagine can run wild as many also serve as play areas. Accommodating children’s needs helps create a happy household and gives them the security of belonging in a space fit for them.
What do you see for the future of design in general and more specifically for Persona Abode Interiors?
The future of design really needs to be more mindful of the consequences of design decisions. I see the conversation already happening and I want this to be more widespread as time goes on. Although I am resistant, technology I think it will play a big role. Of course this will trickle down slowly to homes of lesser financial stature, but I think design solutions are needed in this sector the most. I’d like to imagine this issue being addressed sooner rather than later.
For Persona Abode, creating spaces that serve us well yet doing less harm will remain an objective. The more I learn, the more I know it serves no purpose being any other way so I will be rather deliberate in driving Persona Abode to be led by research for the benefit of people, place and planet just as the company’s tag line says.
What design services do you provide?
I work with clients from one off consultation basis through to full service design. The flexibility of working with clients on different levels is something I really enjoy. Say for one-off consultations you get to come up with solutions that work with those who are happy to run with your ideas and make them their own.
Longer terms projects are fun to be involved in because you essentially get to be part of making a idea blossom from a single thought straight through a finished interior. It’s satisfying to hone the concept and work with clients for long periods, you get to deeply understand them so you’re very much invested in making them happy with the final result.
You can find more about Persona Abode Interiors on Jeck’s website: www.personaabodeinteriors.com
Email Jecks: jessica @ personaabodeinteriors. com or connect with her on Instagram