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Pattern Players: Justina Blakeney

Posted on November 18, 2015 by Melissa Andersen


As an interior designer, artist, blogger, mother, and not to mention New York Times best-selling author, you would think it would be difficult for Justina Blakeney to find time to also design a brand new collection of H&W wallpapers. But Justina is never one to go halfway - not in her career or in her love of pattern.

Through her blog, The Jungalow, and her design work, Justina's name has come to be synonymous with a free-spirited, anything-goes, bohemian aesthetic and a fearless approach to pattern play. That's why we've been so happy to collaborate with her on a collection of Jungalow-inspired wallpaper - the whole process from start to finish has been a blast. And, now we're looking forward to getting some of her patterns up in our own homes. We absolutely adore this collection, so we decided to chat with Justina to find out what makes her tick. Keep reading to find out why plants play such an important role in her approach to design, how she successfully mixes pattern and color, and what she thinks is missing in the Oval Office...

H&W: We're so excited to have just launched our collection with you! It's obvious from the patterns you've created, as well as your work for your own business, that nature is a huge source of inspiration for you. What do you find so inspiring about the plant world?

JB: I find everything about the plant world inspiring. I love to touch plants, to smell them, to keep them in my home as (low-maintenance) pets, to admire them like sculptures, and I even love to eat them! Plants are so diverse, so ALIVE and endlessly captivating. Also, keeping plants in the home has been proven (by folks like NASA!) to increase the quality of life, help with air quality, and caring for them is therapeutic. What’s not to love?

H&W: What else inspired you in the creation of the patterns and colorways in your new collection?

JB: I was very inspired by Indian art, especially the line drawings from the women painters of Mithila, India. Egyptian hieroglyphs were also a point of inspiration. As for the colorways, I pulled the illustrations into photoshop and played with the hue and saturation buttons until something jumped out at me. The trick after that was finding the color swatches that matched—but it worked out somehow!

H&W: We love how you call your home The Jungalow (and how it totally lives up to the moniker!). How would you describe your design style, both for yourself and your many other design projects?

JB: My design style is wild! It’s colorful, it’s patternful, it’s jungalicious!! My style is multi-cultural, playful, bold, eclectic, forgiving, funky, and fresh. I love vintage and handmade items, items that tells stories and that are a bit unexpected. 

H&W: Pattern clearly plays a huge role in your life, as does color. What are your favorite pattern- or color-mixing tricks?

JB: For me, color plays a huge part in how I pull eclectic designs together. One trick that I often use is to pick one dominant color for a room or a vignette and one or two secondary colors. Then I try and design the room around those hues. I find that when I do that, no matter how ‘maximal’ I make a space, it still looks pulled together. As for pattern, I like to contrast small patterns with large ones — so if I’m using Aja wallpaper in teal, for example, I might use pillows in a similar color family but with smaller patterns to contrast the large leaves featured in Aja. 

H&W: Sometimes designing your own living space can be a daunting task, but you make it seem effortless. What are your interior design dos and don’ts?

JB: Hmmmm let’s see. DON’T be boring, DO have fun! DON’T fill your home with stuff from all one store, DO add plants (even if they’re from all one store!). DON’T feel like design is static, DO move things around and try things out until you love it, then move things again when you feel like switching things up!

H&W: If you could use your wallpaper collection anywhere (in your home, someone else's, a hotel, a restaurant, etc.), where would it be?

JB: Well, I’m definitely putting it all over my Jungalow, so that’s a no-brainer — but if I were to think BIG like really BIG? I’d love to see Nana Pink up at the White House. Don’t you think that the Oval Office could use a little Nana pink? I bet they’d be more productive. Then I’d put Vitamin C up at a fancy juice cafe, like The Juice. I’d bring Cosmic Desert in gold to the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs—but I would also love to see one of the moodier cosmic deserts at a swanky bar, like Bar Stella in Silverlake.  Then I’d see if Solange Knowles, Lisa Bonet, and/or Mindy Kaling would be interested in having her entire home covered in Aja. For Fez? How about that long stretch in the L.A. airport when you’ve just come in from a long flight and you’re standing on that people mover, exhausted. Fez in cobalt will reinvigorate travelers and welcome them back to L.A. with a little sparkle. 

H&W: How do you envision it being used by H&W customers?

JB: I see the papers pretty much all over the place—wherever they will induce smiles! I also envision H&W customers having fun with the papers by putting them in unusual places (Cosmic Desert on a ceiling? Yes!) My blog readers are all super creative and i have a feeling folks are going to wow us with their choices and applications—I can’t wait to start to see people using the designs in their homes.

H&W: Your bohemian spirit comes through in all that you do. What are some simple ways that anyone can inject a dose of bohemian style into their home (or attitude!)?

JB: While decorating (or even simply while straightening up!), put on some music and light some incense. This is crucial! You gotta be in a good mood while decorating or the design won’t come out right! Next, rely on vintage textiles to cover big-box furniture pieces. It’s a good way to insta-boho your home. Then add plants. Lastly, a little fun, patternful wallpaper never hurt nobody ;) 

H&W: 'Hygge' (pronounced hoo-ga) is a word that embodies a Danish concept of coziness. What small pleasures or treasures bring you hygge in your life?

JB: Hugs and cuddles, freshly washed duvets, sunshine, garden roses, herbal tea, candles, my daughter, succulents and philodendrons, getting on a plane with the promise of exploring a new land, watercolors, sandy toes, star gazing, jacuzzis, cashmere, linen.

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