A bedroom in a Val de Vie house designed by John Jacobs Interiors

Renowned South African interior designer John Jacob has been included in this year’s Andrew Martin International Interior Design Review book which showcases 100 of the world’s top designers.

John Jacob, who has appeared in the tome two previous times in 2017 and 2008, is the only South African to be included in 2018’s Volume 22 of the prestigious book published by teNeues. When asked what it felt like to be included in what has been described as ‘the bible of interior design’, Jacob replied:

“I’m more excited about that fact that South Africa as a design destination is still of significance; there is so much talent and design skill in our country and so much ability in terms of what we can make – it’s wonderful that South Africa is represented in the book. We have a wonderful culture of the home in South Africa. Unlike some European countries, our sanctuary is quite important to us and as a result of that people’s attention to their spaces and their appreciation for their spaces is heightened.”

John Jacob
Left: Designer John Jacob Right: Andrew Martin Interior Design Review cover

The 500-page coffee table book which weighs a hefty 3,7 kilograms features some of John Jacob Interior’s most recent projects with including luxurious homes in Houghton in Johannesburg, Constantia in Cape Town and Val de Vie Estate in Paarl. These projects, although all quite different, have a common thread of classic elegance which Jacob points out is in stark contrast to the more contemporary projects selected for 2017. Jacob explains: “What we do is so varied and there isn’t a consistent aesthetic in terms of what we do. I tried to use projects which have a similar language so that when you put them together on a page they read as a consistent story.”

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The bathroom and bedroom of the John Jacob designed Houghton home.

It’s this fluidity of style and rejection of ‘trend’ together with John Jacob’s laser focus on design informed by bespoke architectural elements that has formed the basis of his studio’s success, “The only thing that I hold onto in terms of what I think is important in design – I don’t have a style and I don’t have an opinion about a style – is approaching interiors as a holistic concept, which is a synergy between architecture, decoration and design finishing. All of these elements must be taken into account to produce something that has power or creative integrity.”

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The living room and kitchen of the John Jacob designed Constantia home.

For Jacob, it’s these basic elements which can make or break a project. Creating the perfect balance between space and the feeling of containment is paramount to his process – if one doesn’t feel comfortable with the proportions of space and the furnishings, the decorative elements won’t matter, “That feeling of containment has to happen in order for it to be a space that’s appealing to be in. How you approach the design in terms of colour, texture and the finish is whatever you want it to be if you get those basics right. Those basics are the things I hold dear.”

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The terrance of the John Jacob designed Val de Vie home.

While Jacob has worked on many large scale mansions, for him bigger doesn’t always mean better. The budget, even if a modest one, needs to allow for the space to be completed with the care and attention to detail it deserves. John Jacob Interiors’ recent 85 square meter Tamboerskloof apartment project is testament to this. As John Jacob explains,

“The same concepts of balance and containment apply to a small space. A small space can be oppressive and depressing because it can feel restrictive, but there are many rules in design that can be used to make the tiniest space feel very expansive. Just because a space is small it doesn’t mean you have to use small furniture pieces – use less furniture and make the furniture as big as possible. Over-scaling in small spaces creates a sense of luxe and abundance. I actually prefer small spaces because it’s easier to make them feel special. I always also break out lintels to maximise ceiling and door height and make all the joinery run from floor to ceiling so that it has a sense of luxe and doesn’t remind the eye that the space is small.”

John Jacob
The living room and polo dressing room of the Val de Vie home designed by John Jacob Interiors

Andrew Martin International Interior Design Review Volume 22 can be purchased online or at a Halogen International showroom.

If you want more decor inspiration, read 10 Stylish Storage Solutions You Need to Know NowHome Tour: A Sophisticated Green Point Apartment and Filmmaker Luca Guadagnino Designs Aésop Store in Rome next.