On the list of Things You Don’t Expect a Buzzy Interior Designer to Say on a Podcast, “I think about the fact that I will die about 30 times a day” ranks pretty high. But Beata Heuman has always marched to the beat of her own drum. The Swedish designer grew up on a small farm, eventually winding up in London—“a place where eccentricity is celebrated,” as she puts it—working for celebrity designer Nicky Haslam. When Heuman went out on her own in 2013, her exuberant use of color and playful sense of nostalgia quickly earned her an audience that appreciates joyful interiors. In her telling, a fixation on death is part of a “glass half full” mentality. “It makes me appreciate life,” she tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “It’s not necessarily in a negative way; it’s more that I need to make the most of each day.”
Heuman has done just that. In 10 short years, she has not only built a successful design business (making the AD100 in 2020), but also launched a multicategory product line under the brand name Shoppa. After a breakout 2021 book, Every Room Should Sing, sales took off, and her husband, John Finlay, left a corporate law career to join the brand. On this episode of the show, the pair discuss why they’ve passed on licensing opportunities in favor of developing products themselves, why they turned a historic London house into a showroom, and why a little bit of mischief has been key to Heuman’s appeal.
Crucial insight: Finding a good balance between Heuman’s Shoppa line and her interior design practice has been the firm’s secret sauce. “We keep the interior design side pretty small. It’s challenging and it’s interesting, and every project is a new opportunity, and we only take on four or five at any one time,” says the designer. “[Having] the product side allows me to do that. It’s important for the interior design side not to become that much bigger—I don’t want it to, because then I feel like the quality might go down.”
Key quote: “I spend a lot of time thinking about how to create something that feels layered, that has high and low. I think that’s a bit truer to human nature [than a monochromatic, single-style look]. We feel more relaxed and happier when our environment is varied. We all need change. My clients will buy other things after I’m done. Creating a form that can take being added to, that can take looking messy—[this] might speak to people because it feels natural and true to human nature.”
The Thursday Show
BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus joins host Dennis Scully to discuss the biggest news in the industry, including a major shakeup in the real estate sector, Pinterest’s great quarter, and the decline of the home office. Later, journalist Chris Moody shares takeaways from his deep dive into the world of white paint.