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Justina Blakeney, all the secrets of Jungalow explained by its creator
The designer who invented a word and a style combining jungle and bungalow, tells us why her forest–home is so appreciated. And how to create it
Memories from her travels, the sun of California and seven years spent in Florence: all that became Jungalow, Justina Blakeney’s style of interior design – and not just for interiors. Photo Jenna Peffley
The Jungalow style is for sure one of the trends of the moment, when it comes to house plants. It is easy to love because it represents the freedom associated with a hearty sense of life, a warm and welcoming embrace that even the interiors can engage in. The creator and master of this colourful and lively style is Justina Blakeney, who loves blending old, new, folkloristic, and surprising materials with a huge number of green plants. The only rule of Jungalow is that it has to become a reflection of your own personality and experiences — from your travels or otherwise. Bringing the Jungalow style to your home doesn’t just mean to put house plants everywhere, but also to rediscover colours, choose vintage pieces –mostly from the 1950s – in wood or wicker, and white walls or wallpapers with leaf motifs, inspired by tropical style. In fact, the word Jungalow is a combination of Jungle and Bungalow, the typical Bengalese one-floor house.
Born in Los Angeles, the artist and designer lived and worked for seven years in Florence. She then moved back to California, where she founded her lifestyle brand, Justina Blakeney Home, including pieces of furniture, carpets, cushions, wallpaper, household linen, stationery, and more. Author of interior decoration books – among them the very famous The New Bohemians Handbook – Justina now lives in LA with her family, a cat, and 52 house plants.
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Let’s ask directly her how this colourful green style was born.
It is a very personal style that was always inside me and matured over the years, although I’ve always loved flowers and plants that allow bringing nature in the interiors. The décor is enhanced by things I collected: growing up in a multicultural family of travellers, I brought many objects home from my journeys. Art, furnishings, clothes, and new ideas about the way other people live. I studied World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, and, afterwards, I lived in Italy for seven years, a period that taught me so much about design and in which my sensibility developed. But my style completely affirmed itself when, in my thirties, and I came back home to California. The palm trees, the open skies, the relaxed atmosphere: all of it contributed to the creation of Jungalow”.
Where do you find inspiration for your interiors?
For me finding inspiration is a practice, just like doing yoga. Sometimes I find it during my walks in nature, sometimes in a museum, or reading an ancient book or a travel magazine. Sometimes simply playing with my 5-year-old daughter. And often what inspired me was a surprise. In my last visit to our museum of local art, the LACMA, the thing that most captured my attention out of everything I saw was a tree in the backyard of the museum: it had these incredible purple flowers that inspired me for the new design of a fabric for my textile collection. And I record things: I have more than 50,000 pictures on my cell phone! So, I can have a look back at what captured my attention and use those images for new ideas for my work.
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