As is often the way with creatives, Jono Fleming’s career took many twists and turns before he found himself where he is today – an accomplished stylist and interior designer. “My goal was to work in a big fancy firm and do lots of beautiful high-end homes and I was very set on that being my only path. Then after about five years in the industry, I found myself a bit lost and not really approaching my work with my original passion,” says Jono who is based in Sydney and graduated with a design degree from The Whitehouse Institute of Design.
Jono’s career has taken him to unexpected places including a stint food styling in Italy. “The last six years have been a series of pivots and swerves, with a side hustle in cooking and food styling which landed me in Italy, cooking behind the scenes for a TV show.” He then landed a job at online retailer Temple and Webster where he worked his way up to senior stylist before moving into magazines.
“I was running the studio and learning everything I could about studio photography and from there I was approached by Inside Out magazine to take on the role of style editor, my absolute dream job. Two years there and the timing felt right to branch out on my own and I’m now working on a series of interiors projects with my own clients. It has come full circle,” says Jono.
As for his signature style, he likes to keep his work inspirational but achievable. “Design and styling can sometimes seem unreachable and impossible to achieve a certain look without spending lots of money. I find my best received work is a mix of low to mid-level pieces, it’s just the way of putting them together that can elevate a room.”
Describing himself as a curated maximalist, “it’s not clutter or junk as I very carefully choose which pieces I want but the stylist in me always adds one extra piece here and there.” Jono adds: “It’s organised chaos and it’s not for everyone. I feel it’s important as a designer and a stylist to be mindful of your client’s needs.” He often creates a more edited or diluted version of his own personal style for other people. “It’s totally understandable, and probably more practical too.”
When it comes to inspiration, Jono looks to a wide range of disparate places including Pinterest, film and the great outdoors. “Piecing together a room is to tell a story. What are the key pieces and where were they sourced? Does the wall colour remind you of a trip away somewhere or did you see something in a film you want to recreate? Inspiration is endless!” says Jono who describes himself as equal parts nature lover and pop culture junkie. “Half my time is spent hiking and exploring outside, and the other half is holed up watching old 1980’s films and bingeing shows, so I bring the world outside of interiors into my work a lot.”
And speaking of Pinterest, one of his most ‘pinned’ projects is his parents’ farmhouse which was published and put on the cover of Inside Out magazine. Grateful for the trust his parents put in him, the process also taught Jono the value of relatively ‘simple’ design – no doubt an interesting lesson for a design maximalist. “What the process showed me was that design doesn’t have to be complicated, with all the bells and whistles, to connect to an audience. The simple black and white bathrooms we designed have been shared across social media constantly and it’s truly humbling to see people looking to this work as inspiration in their own homes.”
He adds: “It was a deeply personal project. I designed it for my father, it’s his dream house and the time was right for him to be able to take the opportunity to build it. The trust my parents gave me to put forward their vision is something I’ll always be thankful for.” When they sold the family home of 30 years and bought a new forever home last year — a downsizer apartment with water views– it was perhaps no surprise they trusted their son once more, along with Strutt Studios, to design it. In another coup, just this week, it was published in Belle.
And as for the latest interior trends, while Jono does his best to shirk them, he admits to noticing a huge rise in the 1980’s/1990’s aesthetic of late. “Whilst I try and avoid trend talk too much, this is one I’m so on board with! Big curvy shapes and chubby furniture; it’s the 80’s but in a much more designed and curated way. It’s a very comforting and welcoming aesthetic; furniture that hugs you! Don’t go overboard though, you only need one or two pieces as a statement.”
Looking to the future, Jono has aspirations to connect with a wider Australian audience with a view to educating them about their homes. “I’d like to teach people to elevate their personal style and get their homes looking the best they can be without buckling to the trends. At this point, I have a lot of ideas but I’m approaching things one project at a time. Ideally, people will eventually look to the Jono Fleming brand as a source of achievable inspiration, maybe with some product of mine they could buy at some stage.”