We recently framed a selection of photos for Jenna Densten’s North Melbourne worker’s cottage. After sharing a couple of images on our Instagram, we had so many of you asking about Jenna’s photographs (all of which were taken on an iPhone) and frame selection.
For those of you who don’t know, Jenna is an interior designer and co-founder of Bicker and Design School alongside her husband Josh. Whether it’s their unmistakable tonal aesthetic, design projects, or candid depiction of family life that has you hooked, it seems like we are all enamoured with the Densten clan.
We knew a call with Jenna would be a great opportunity to learn more about her design philosophies, artwork selection and upcoming creative endeavours. Take a read...
On designing a space with children, Jenna says 'It’s definitely made us consider what’s practical. We need to make sure that not only does it look good but that it’s also really functional. I’m really mindful that we incorporate them within our design.' Images from @joshandjenna.
What is your design philosophy?
JD To fill a house with pieces that you absolutely love, so nothing is mass produced or mass market… I prefer one of a kind, locally made, things that have a special meaning.
Something that you reminisce about
JD I always reminisce about holidays. More recently, times that we can go to The Shack. Obviously right now [in Melbourne’s lockdowns] I reminisce about it more than not. Just being able to have time away with the family and having weekend trips is what we used to do all the time and look forward to. We haven’t been able to take Story, our eight-month-old, to the Shack yet because… 2020. That’s definitely what I reminisce about and hope will be part of our future soon.
Jenna forgoes mass-produced homewares and furniture in favour of one of a kind, locally made, things that have a special meaning. The same goes for artwork. This framed photograph was captured by Josh. Image from @joshandjenna.
How has having a family influenced the way you design and fill the space?
JD It’s definitely made us consider what’s practical. We need to make sure that not only does it look good but that it’s also really functional. I’m really mindful that we incorporate them within our design. I’m not necessarily a person who likes to include a lot of colour in my aesthetic but in the girls’ bedroom I’ve made sure that I’ve included colour. Just because that’s something I don’t necessarily like doesn’t mean I want to deprive them of it.
In the lounge room - even though I don’t want crazy, bright coloured toys around - I’ve got storage and I’ve made sure they’ve got their own spots, so they feel like it’s a part of their home. For me it’s the combination of practicality, now, that I probably didn’t consider earlier. And also making sure that I incorporate a little bit of them into the design.
Is framed artwork an afterthought or part of your design process?
JD Definitely part of your design process.
Again, you need to think about incorporating everyone in the house within the design. Having framed prints so that when someone walks into our house, they see photos of our girls, photos of us, and our dogs… having that means that people know there are kids here. That’s what you want. Ultimately you want to walk into a house and get a feel and a taste for the family who live there, and the design to be reflected through that.
'Artwork is definitely a consideration from the start. It’s something that will be ever changing, and you’ll be building upon.'
So, yes artwork is definitely a consideration from the start. It’s something that will be ever changing, and you’ll be building upon. As a special memory occurs you take photos and you think ‘great, I’m going to incorporate that into my shelfie styling’ or ‘I’m going to include it here…’ so it’s evolving but definitely something that needs to be considered in the way of designing open shelves to ensure you’ve got the ability to change photographs as the kids get older. And those little narrow walls that are beside the toilet in the hallway - you utilise those walls and think the about frames going there.
Artwork in a home can set the tone for visitors. In Jenna's place anyone who stops by gets a personal feel of the family who live here. Image from @joshandjenna.
Where do you source artwork? Is it always just personal photographs at home or do you source externally?
JD I do both. I love artwork from actual artists who know what they’re doing and things that resonate with me… for example, if there’s a story behind the piece of art, or maybe I’ve collected the art on a weekend away or I found a little piece in an op-shop when we were shopping. I remember that special time and I can think about that art when I see it and think about the weekend that we had.
"There’s got to be that memory associated to that beautiful family photograph but also that genuine LOVE of a piece of art that’s really special in the home."
There’s a combination when sourcing art which is something that I absolutely love and, then, incorporating family photographs – it’s that fine balance. There’s got to be that memory associated to that beautiful family photograph but also that genuine LOVE of a piece of art that’s really special in the home.
What gets you through the day?
JD Coffee! Everyone would say that!
Do you have another creative outlet?
JD No but I want to take up painting – that’s my next thing. My creative outlet is my work, but I want another outlet that isn’t work.
Best way to decompress?
JD Trash TV! It’s mindless and it’s rubbish but I switch off instantly.
- Choose one of a kind, locally made, or sentimental pieces over mass-produced
- Use framed artwork to set the tone of the house for visitors (e.g. if it's a family home, feature photographs of the kids)
- Frame and display photographs with special meaning that take you back to a favourite memory
- Select artwork or artists that you genuinely love (don't fill your space for the sake of it)
- Make use of narrow hallway walls - think about smaller frames stacked vertically
- Future proof by designing shelves or spaces where artwork can be changed over the years