Words by Rosie Cattrell
Creating interiors as unique as your experiences, and a home as wild as you dare.
When we’re feeling weary and a little worn as the day’s end approaches, there is one thing waiting to welcome us back to a world of rest and familiarity, one thing described by a word with a perfectly unique definition for each of us; if we don’t have it we’re always seeking it, and once we find it we’ll protect it forever. Home.
But what is it that truly makes a home, and how can we find it? Walls, windows and a sturdy roof make for excellent building blocks for a house, but it’s inside where we find ourselves in true home territory. This is where the experts come in, and the team at YEO Design have a wealth of knowledge, experience and a track record in finding out exactly what their client’s definition of home is.
After going to school together, playing football together and going to the very same furniture college, childhood friends James Yeo and Adam Hodgson went their separate ways to pursue their individual futures. James headed to London, and after a couple of years travelling, Adam found himself anchored in the seaside town of Bude, Cornwall, both beginning their own companies in 2009 on an almost parallel tangent of kitchens and furniture making. One day an idea sparked that would bring the pair together in business, as Adam explains: “We would very often chat about business and joke that we should be doing it together, then one late night after several sherbets, a hand shake happened and YEO was born.”
“It made sense, I was settled in Cornwall, where the workshop is, and James was in London where a lot of our work was and still is. Having teams on the ground in both locations is still key to the business and differentiates us from a lot of other design-based cabinet makers. A lot of our clients for Cornish projects are London based as well, so it works very well that we can have in-person design meetings in our London studio. I oversee the running of everything in Cornwall and Devon, and James oversees the London side of things. Two local lads, with a passion for design, ultra-high-quality furniture and collaboration.”
Designing and making bespoke cabinetry and furniture, Adam, James and the rest of the YEO team manage the entire process from start to finish, and have managed to adapt and keep up with the ever-evolving world of luxury interiors. “Cabinet and furniture making is at the heart of what we do and how it all started, but furniture making has evolved majorly and you now have to be clued up on a range of materials. The days of making everything out of wood have long gone, so if you want to make it in the high-end furniture market you have to have good knowledge of different materials and techniques. Most projects will include stone, glass, structural and intricate metal work, veneers, upholstery, specialist finishes, etc and we pride ourselves on sourcing the very latest in new products as well. We love using new materials that we haven’t used before.” One penthouse project in Kensington that the team are currently working on includes a sculpture made from perforated metal sheeting, while a project in Harlyn involves a staircase made from 8mm hot rolled steel, which Adam describes as their “most challenging project to date and the best piece of work we’ve done at YEO.”
“We love design, and we’re very lucky to have our design team headed up by Scott Law. He’s been around the block, he’s award-winning and understated, but this guy designs serious furniture,” continues Adam. “Our design ethos is to try and create something different and personal on every design, we don’t want to create the same thing twice and we want the design to have meaning to its owner. Our service goes beyond what you physically see. We manage all of our projects from design conception right through to installation completion and into aftercare. We absolutely pride ourselves on the smooth running of our projects.”
Every company will have a special project that was out of the ordinary, something that will stay with them after completion, and that project for YEO design was The Hide, on which Adam kindly elaborates: “This was a full house of cabinetry that we designed and made, but what makes this project really special is the family using it. Everything was designed around how the place would be lived in. It’s always cool when the client loves the design side of it, and we worked very closely with them on every element. To see them and their kids enjoying it to this day is what it’s all about, it’s the best part of what we do. We’ve recently finished things off by making a skate ramp for the ‘kids’, so Dad says! The smile on their faces was priceless when they saw it, those reactions and feelings are what make me love the design and making world.”
With ‘home’ looking different to every one of us, I wondered how YEO Design achieves such stunningly one-of-a-kind results every time, and Adam is more than willing to let me in on the secret: “The process starts with how the space will be used. For instance, in a kitchen we don’t really obsess over the cooking, working triangles and all that rubbish, that’s the easy bit. We fuss about how the family will use it socially, where people sit for conversation to be had, how to get the beer out the fridge easily without disturbing the chef, where the cocktails will be made, where the cocktails are served! We like to find out as much about our clients that they are happy to tell. If we can include something personal into the design that is special to only them, then they genuinely have something unique, something that nobody else has.
“Naturally what we are doing is very personal to the client, most of the time we are creating forever homes for people, so we want the journey to be as enjoyable as possible for them. Our work speaks for itself but we also don’t take ourselves too seriously and like to have fun whilst doing it. We’ve been very fortunate to work with really nice people, and most have a genuine want to do something different.”
The pandemic has changed the way we live and work, there’s no doubt about it, and homes are being designed to suit the work-life balance, an observation that is reflected in YEO Design, with most new projects embracing a nice place to work, sociable family areas and even a place for wellness. “One thing that the past two years has done is make people realise what’s important, so if you are not working from home then you are wanting to be at home with your nearest and dearest much more,” adds Adam. “The home is a sanctuary now, we’re spending more time than ever there, so our interiors should be well thought out.
“Now more than ever, family is at the heart of residential design, so we’re designing spaces to be enjoyed by the whole family, around lifestyle, work, play, and some more play! Obviously, it has to work and look good, but how is it going to be used and how can we encourage fun, conversation and aid the making of memories? These are the questions we are asking ourselves as designers.” Adam’s insights into how he, James and rest of the team at YEO Design are helping to form blissfully unique interiors for their clients have let us in on the secret of ‘home’, and what it really means live in the house of your dreams.