GEM TALK WITH NORA VOON, INTERIOR DESIGNER
The series of interviews with women and men who have personalities, story to tell and their own GEM style. They make it happen for themselves all over the world and follow GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla.
The jet-setter life of interior designer Nora Voon has shaped her dark, yet glamorous style. Nora is a strong and inspiring woman who makes her interior design jobs for high-end hotels and restaurants in China and London look like a piece of cake! …Something she literally did in her previously career as a pastry chef. In this interview, Nora tells all about where she finds her mind-blowing creativity from, about her intriguing art collections and her secret passion for making hats.
Name: Nora Voon
Alma Mater: Inchbald school of design
Occupation: Interior Designer, mother, friend
Hometown: London & Toronto
LOCATION AT TIME OF INTERVIEW: Notting Hill. First time I lived in London, I was based in this neighbourhood. Notting Hill is where I had my first baby Mia. For me, this it is my home: I love the fruit and vegetables market; I love going to 202 for brunch and the shop below; for meetings, I go to the Electric club a lot. There is a local gallery Ink’d, which is very cool. No matter how many times I go to Portobello on a Saturday, I always enjoy myself even though it’s packed with tourists; I love the knick-knacks and the people!
IN THE BEGINNING: Ever since I was a kid, I created a world around me that was a make-believe place. In my head, I have created many versions of living rooms; some I’m not so proud of, but, I suppose, that’s the beauty of interior design… I’ve realized your style changes over time and that’s okay. It shows layers and depth to the things I do for work. It inspires me.
INSPIRATIONS & CREATIVITY: Style evolves around you… People change and the environment changes with it, which also means that you change both as a person and as a professional. My creativity comes from my experiences in places that I have travelled to and from the people I’ve met. I like to learn who my clients are, since they are key to my creative process! I also draw inspiration from fashion and jewellery: from materials and textiles to stones. I particularly love the fashion brand Preen as it reminds me of the Deconstructive style in Architecture; symmetry is aesthetically nice and important but for me asymmetry adds proportion and an avant-garde feel.
LONDON DEBUT: We have worked on a few projects in London, some commercial (private members’ gym and shoe boutique) and some private residential projects.
CHINA DEBUT: We are working on a few projects at the moment, which we are excited to be a part of: they are very fun and cool!
ICONS & INFLUENCES: I used to have several icons when I was younger; they have inspired me in more ways than one! At the time, I wanted to learn about every one of my icons and what exactly made them great, but over the years I realized that what made all my icons great is that they were busy “waking their dreams” and not busy studying someone else. So in a way, I realized what made them great was the passion for the hard work that was required to achieve that greatness. My past icons include Rem Koolhaas, Tom Bartlett (a very cool interior designer), Junta Watanabe, and the unapologetically fearless Harry Gordon Selfridge. Mr. Selfridge promoted the radical notion of shopping for pleasure rather than necessity: he changed the way people shop!
IKEA OR JONATHAN ADLER: Jonathan Adler! My mantra is pay once for what it’s worth…
PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT: I am Jewish! If I have to give one… it would be a hat for a special friend. I don’t always make them but when I do I don’t stop. I still owe you a hat!
HATS: I only make hats for fun and friends; I can only make them as inspiration comes! Every hat I have made for a friend usually has an element that says something unique about them: it could be antique buttons, or feathers, or a whip…. I even made a top hat once for a magician friend with feathered wings on it.
TOPSHOP OR CHANEL: I used to wander into Topshop looking for cool seasonal things because I don’t believe in breaking the bank for a trend. As I got older, I accepted this mantra, “you buy shit, you pay twice”… Being stylish doesn’t have to be expensive all the time: if you can find a really cool item for nothing at a flea market but pair it with something really well-made and expensive, it would look amazing… I always get compliments on my cheapest finds! I love browsing through flea markets, because I always find the most unusual things. I also love handmade things; I appreciate the outstanding quality, which is something you don’t see much of nowadays. I used to wear a lot of Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackerman; however, recently they became somewhat boring and others started copying them everywhere. So, now I wear Lost & Found, Isaac Sellam, Aviu, Lara Rosnovsky, Damir Doma and a few other independent brands that I come across during my travels. So to answer the question…neither Topshop, nor Chanel!
GEM STYLE: My GEM style has got to be a bit rough… I love fine jewellery but only to look at it in admiration. If I wear fine jewellery, it just doesn’t look right! In general, I love jewellery that has a bit of darkness to it: it could be spikes, nails, skulls, claws, or even teeth! For me jewellery is very personal: it has to reflect your style and image. Just because a jewel is stunning, does not mean that it suits you. We all know that a piece of jewellery is an accessory, which means it needs to enhance your look rather than overtake it!
FIRST JEWELLERY: I don’t remember my first jewellery because we have a special and long relationship…I have a few pieces that I love and take them with me everywhere I travel.
I love my Stephen Webster black onyx necklace, regardless of the fact that it is a man’s piece. Every time I’m in NYC, I get Lazaro pieces, some of which have been made especially for me. When I buy a piece of jewellery, I always look for something that reflects my personality: I like a bit of dark humour and rough edges. If something is too refined, regardless of how beautiful it may be, I would never buy it, because it’s just not me… I used to study stones when I was younger because they intrigued me due to their properties; some say some stones gives you special energy… I don’t consider a stone’s meaning when choosing a piece of jewellery. I prefer to look at it as a whole.
I find my jewellery everywhere! Sometimes I find a piece in most unexpected places. Some jewellery I have bought during my travels, especially when I know it’s the local artists/designers that have made them by hand.. I buy a lot of jewellery in Israel and in London; I love going to Wolf & Badger, where I can support emerging designers. My favourite designers at the moment are Shaun Leane, Kasun and Arme de L’amour; I also love a good piece from Cartier, Jessica McCormack and Shamballa Jewels.
MY EVERYDAY JEWELLERY: My everyday jewellery is my feather hair extension clip, my Alexis Bittar smokey quartz ring, Lazaro raven skull necklace with silver nail and ruby eyed eagle pendant. All these pieces go with everything I wear! I love rose gold, black, grey and yellow diamonds, coloured stones, smokey quartz and citrine.
ROLEX OR CARTIER: I love men’s watches; a timepiece has to be big and chunky. I have been wearing my Panerai Radiomir watch forever now, because I love it! I also love my Tiret and Cartier Roadster; unfortunately, the latter is a bit common now so I don’t wear it as much anymore. I am in love with the Daytona Rolex. One day, I would like to own the Urwerk CC1 King Cobra watch, because it reminds me of a car dashboard… and also the Jean Dunand – Palace which was inspired by global landscapes and structures. I wear my watch even when I sleep… The only two times when I take it off is when I do martial arts with my master and when I take a shower.
FINE JEWELLERY: I appreciate fine jewellery but I don’t find that it fits my personal style. I go for jewellery that reflects my personality rather than jewellery that is worth the most; I do not really care what type of stones it consists of…. For me, a piece has to be well made and whatever the piece is, it needs to be timeless. Although I say that fine jewellery is not for me, style changes over time… So hopefully when I’m older, I will get a chance to wear some stunning jewels, which are both mighty fine and exquisite!
VINTAGE JEWELLERY: I love vintage jewellery… Annina Vogel, Lulu Frost and Jessica McCormack cornered that market pretty well in the last 10 years. For me, vintage jewellery is like fine wine, the craftsmanship that went into making it is lost these days. There is something to be said about a piece of jewellery that is made a little imperfectly, because it was made by hand.
FASHION JEWELLERY: Of course, I wear fashion jewellery, who doesn’t?! It’s fun and doesn’t break the bank; it comes and goes, so there is always something new to expect. There are too many brands that create great fashion jewellery; Maria Francesca Pepe is a current favourite!
THE FUTURE OF JEWELLERY: I’m excited to see what’s coming next… at the moment, there is an over-saturation in the jewellery market: there are too many brands and everyone is copying each other. So, I’m not sure how or when this market will stabilized; hopefully, when new designers come up with innovative ideas of designing and making jewellery.
POWER COMES FROM: Within
PERFECT GETAWAY: In a city somewhere, where I can walk all day in the streets, exploring and finding new things… A bit vague, I know, but that’s what I love about it! I love the anonymity of being in a city no matter where, but as long as it is stimulating, it is the perfect getaway.
ISRAEL: The beach is so great … My favourite restaurant is Abraksa in Tel Aviv for simple good food, and Sharon Brunsher for something different. She sells beautiful minimalist objects and clothing, as well as some art and photography. My favourite cafe in Jaffa is Poa, which serves home cooked fare in Israeli atmosphere. Chilli Baba..
I love the absolute peace and quiet in my house when I’m there. I have a lychee tree, a mango tree, a pomegranate tree and lime and lemon trees. It’s my home away from home.
COACHELLA OR BURNING MAN: Neither
MY WEAPON OF CHOICE: Nothing is stronger than will power!
WILD WISH: Do nothing all day, something which is absolutely impossible in my world!
GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla is featuring exquisite global discoveries, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews – a celebration of fine jewellery, fashion jewellery and vintage jewellery.