From the outside, Briony Fitzgerald’s life looks like an exotic tapestry—it’s her job to weave brilliant textiles, memorable art, and incredible textures into interiors that light up everyday human experiences.
However, the lessons this self-made woman has learned over 40 years in the demanding industry of professional interior design are equally applicable to many aspects of a working woman’s life, whatever her calling.
Acknowledging the influence of her parents on her eye and professional temperament, the importance of putting a price on hard-won professional expertise, not being taken advantage of as a woman in business, prioritising her health and the culture of her studio and pacing herself so that it doesn’t all become overwhelming—all this and more in this fascinating account of a wonderful working life in the decorative arts.
From a young age, Briony went to work with her mother to Marion Hall Best’s shop in Queen Street, Woollahra where she was surrounded by contemporary furniture, fabrics, tiles, colour and inspiring women.
“I was made incredibly aware of detail and was taught to open my eyes to what was around me, so the environment in which I spent my time has profoundly affected the way I see the world. I have always lived and breathed design. For me colour evokes emotion and my ‘feeling’ for the world is purely visual”, she says.
Briony believes that colour uplifts interiors and exemplifies this through her unwavering use of textiles, glazing walls and ceilings, aware that the coordination of light and colour can significantly change the ambiance of a space.
“For some clients the expression is bright and bold, for others it is subtle and nuanced. Whatever the outcome the process in developing the interior is the same – it is intense and thoughtful, intuitive and imaginative”, says Briony.
This all takes time and Briony has both the patience and the address book to see each project through from furniture floor plan to the creation of bespoke furniture pieces, her signature approach to the layering of fabric, the sourcing of furniture and the application of painted surfaces.
She feels firmly that a house ‘tells me what it wants’ and that may be opening it up to views, relocating a kitchen or reconfiguring the flow of a space as much as its decorative content. “It’s important for me to discover how the client lives and what their requirements are. A home should be an expression of the owners’ personalities and their way of life. It is our job to read their taste, help them to realise their vision and educate them through the design process so we can create their dream home’, she says.
To deliver this Briony works with the highest level of artisans, architects, landscape designers and builders. “Collaboration is the most inspiring and creative process—to work with other talented people who have an open mind and an eye for detail is energizing and creates a flow of new ideas and possibilities.”