Sofa Chat: In Conversation with Juliette Byrne - post image background.

Sofa Chat: In Conversation with Juliette Byrne

In the ninth of the series of Sofa Chats, top interior designer Juliette Byrne is in conversation with Zoltan Halasz about her favourite pieces, the help she gets from the team and how she uses Minotti furniture in her projects.

Founded in 1988, Juliette’s Chelsea-based interior design studio has established a reputation for creating elegant and sophisticated interiors which blend the classic with the contemporary.

Whether co-ordinating a building site, managing an office of designers or liaising with leading architects and surveyors, Juliette’s efficiency and attention to detail has been a driving force in her 25-year career as an interior designer.

Hit the play button below to watch the full conversation, or read the full transcript below:

Juliette Byrne: Minotti is a brand we always try and use and specify whenever we can. We love the product, we love the style, the elegance and above all, we love the team that we work with here in the showroom. Wonderful, wonderful people, and our clients love them, too.

Zoltan Halasz: That’s really nice. So what would you say if you have to describe Minotti in three words? What would be the three words which you think explains Minotti the best?

Juliette: Well, obviously it’s an Italian brand, which is something that a lot of our clients really strive for. It’s extremely elegant, comfortable and you have this amazing showroom here in the West End where clients can come and try the products out, look at the fabrics and feel comfortable with what they’re going to be buying.

Zoltan: Do you think when you actually take clients to showrooms, this is one of the showrooms to basically take them and enjoy and try to see all the pieces, so it gives a really nice variety of products?

Juliette: Yes. We always try and do what we call a shopping trip, where we take clients all over London, sometimes to Chelsea Harbour, then up to the West End, and the Minotti showroom is always a destination for us.

One, because the coffee is great, and we get to see you Zoltan, who is always extremely helpful with the clients. You explain the product, they can see the proportion and the different textures, and also with coffee tables, side tables and the room sets are particularly good.

People can actually visualise and imagine how the pieces are going to look in their property, which, if you don’t have a showroom, it’s quite hard for us to explain that to them.

Zoltan: Which are your favourite pieces because, I think, we use quite a lot of the pieces pretty much from all of the collections.

Juliette: Absolutely.

Zoltan:: Because there are lots of products. I know you use the Catlin table, the dining table.

Minotti London Catlin Table

Juliette: Yes.

Zoltan: The Alexander sofa for quite a few really nice projects.

Juliette: Yes, absolutely.

minotti the alexander sofa

Zoltan: Which one is your favourite?

Juliette: I think the Catlin table is one of my favourite with the purple marble. And we’ve used that in a project in Fulham Reach, which is a fully glares apartment on the river.

And the table just looks absolutely stunning. That was one of the projects I worked with Ria and she chose that and the client lives in the Cayman Islands and this is their London property. And that’s an example of how we came in to choose one or two pieces and came out with very many for that particular apartment.

They love the Madison bedside table. We’ve used the Powell L-shape sofa in the past, but we are very flexible. And as you know, Ria has been out to Italy, you kindly took her out with Katia to the factory. And again, that background knowledge… Sadly, I missed that trip.

Minotti London Powell Sofa

Zoltan: You have to go again.

Juliette: Have to go again. But the background knowledge on how things are manufactured and the quality is really important to clients. So we can give them a little bit of background that we’ve actually visited, met the team in Italy.

And I think clients really appreciate that depth of knowledge on the products because they’re not going to invest in something they don’t feel confident with.

Zoltan: Exactly I think you just said it very well. It is an investment also to have a Minotti piece.

Juliette: It is.

Zoltan: So what do you think, which are the most important Minotti pieces you would specify for the project? Is it mostly sofas because of the comfort and the craftsmanship or it’s a little bit of everything?

Juliette: Yes. I mean, we like your armchairs very much. Clients seem to be drawn to maybe a leather back and a fabric front and mixing the two textiles together seems to work very well.

Zoltan: I think you actually use one of those chairs, the Leslie chair for one of the projects, which is going to be now in a designer board.

Minotti London Leslie Armchair

Juliette: Absolutely. Yes we did some work for a Russian client who is based in Singapore and we did the project for her from start to finish. I think she only came over once very briefly to have a walk around. She said, “you are doing it. I trust you” which was wonderful to have that element of confidence.

And we did, we used in the master bedroom, she had a beautiful master bedroom suite with the beautiful bed, the bedside tables, and then the seating area where we used your armchair, the sofa, and then dressing room and bathroom. And she was absolutely delighted with the whole apartment, I’m glad to say, when she did the walk around.

She has multiple properties worldwide and she said often when she arrives, she’s a little disappointed and wants to make some changes, but it’s the first time she’s walked into an apartment where she hasn’t wanted to change anything. So it’s a big compliment.

Zoltan: That’s a huge compliment.

Juliette: And we were delighted. And it’s now up for a design award at the Dorchester in the summer with the awards taking place and hers is chosen well we’re shortlisted. So we’re hoping for an actual award on that evening.

Zoltan: That look amazing. Congratulations on the shortlisted.

Juliette: Thank you very much.

Zoltan:: I worked with your team as well and with you during the pandemic and we got through it.

Juliette: Absolutely.

Zoltan: And you had actually really nice project during the time as well. So even just sending out samples and, like you mentioned, you don’t want the technical drawings of the Minotti CAD drawings that was very helpful.

Juliette: Very, very helpful. It’s that sort of backup from the team here that really was helpful for us because we couldn’t come to the showroom. And we had to do a lot of our work on Zoom.

Our clients were in Singapore and San Francisco, the south of France, we were doing a job in Dresden. So a lot of our work was for international clients who were unable to come to the UK and they still wanted their projects to carry on.

So being able to show them the technical information, the swatches, and also go to site, we did still do site visits, but to be able to FaceTime them and put tape measures and templates on the floor, everything to just try and make them feel happy about the choices. But often, Zoltan, you come to our projects and help us talk to the clients.

Zoltan: Yes absolutely.

Juliette: And advise on what’s suitable for their properties. It’s not all showroom visits and not many suppliers do that or we wouldn’t feel confident asking many suppliers to come to our client’s houses, but whenever you come, it’s always a huge success. And the client’s reassured that the piece is going to be just right for the space.

So I think that’s another element that Minotti offers is that personal client contact in their own homes, whether it’s very bespoke and customised to what they want.

Zoltan: How do you think Minotti would fit in, in every kind of project what you do? Or sometimes it’s a little bit more, you go with the style of the house, or please explain a little bit about that.

Juliette: Yes. I mean, I think you shouldn’t be governed by the style of the house because very often a period apartment in Paris will look amazing with a parquet floor and a Minotti piece and two or three items and some great artwork.

That’s probably all you would need. So I don’t think you can say you have to have a penthouse to be able to use your product. I think also sometimes to do with the fabrics as well. So if you use a neutral fabric, you can then blend it with other pieces to keep it a little bit more eclectic. So maybe an antique armoire or an interesting coffee table.

And so I don’t think it necessarily has to go into a contemporary interior. I mean, obviously, the client needs to give you some idea on their thoughts and, and what they feel comfortable with. But I think mixing the styles together, a little bit more traditional with a little bit more contemporary and some of your pieces are very easy to blend in both spaces I would say.

Zoltan: Thank you so much again for coming.

Juliette: Not at all.

Zoltan: It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you in the showroom and I’m looking forward to see you again very, very soon.

Juliette: Yes we are as well, looking forward to the next project with Minotti.

Zoltan: Wonderful. And we need to party as well at the awards.

Juliette: Absolutely, at the awards

Zoltan: Nice to see you again.

Juliette: Thanks, Zoltan.

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