Draw the line: illustration-based web design for interior designer Tom Carey

If you were hiring an interior designer, I don’t know if a sense of humour would be top of the list of requirements. But equally it strikes me that someone who can laugh at and enjoy life is likely to be somebody who would design a house worth living in. That sense of play and enjoyment comes through in every aspect of Tom Carey’s design work. It’s something we’ve built in to every aspect of the project we’ve been working on for him over the last few months and particularly in the illustration-based web design we’ve devised, which has just gone live.

In our work I feel we’ve really captured something of his wit and essence, which has made for a very enjoyable project. This is the story of how we made it all happen.

Draw near

Tom Carey has been a friend of mine for some years and it feels like we’ve been talking about updating his website for almost all of that time. So when Tom said at the end of 2022 – ‘right, this is the moment, let’s do this’, I almost had to pinch myself. The project has become increasingly appealing as his portfolio had grown in the last three years and he has built a library of exceptional images.

Tom’s work has such a distinctive sense of style. It rejoices in colour and freshness while blending all manner of traditional techniques and references. As such, from our perspective, it was a golden opportunity to do something really very different from our other recent work.

The project doesn’t really include a logo or identity exactly, but in a way starting with a piece of work which casts Tom’s name in type anchored what we were going to do next. We love working with independent type foundries and we chanced on Erotique, a beautiful flowing typeface by Zetafonts, designed by Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini and Mariachiara Fantini. Combining Tom’s name in the typeface with a quirky colour palette inspired by his work set the stage for all that was to follow.

Draw the curtains

As we began the website, our work took a bit of a left turn. Tom had sent us a set of new photos of his latest project in Knightsbridge which included a bearded Greek marble bust. It reminded us a little of Tom who sports a particularly fantastic beard, and we had some fun wondering if, instead of a head-shot, we should actually draw him as the bust. However in the end common sense prevailed – but that idea ceded something altogether more creative and enjoyable. The essence of the project.

Kristina began by drawing the mable bust, but then continued with a series of items inspired the range of Tom’s pictures. A series of elegant and over-the-top picture frames, the fringed tassles of passementerie, a locket on a long chain and finally a desktop quill and ink – all were completed and began to tell a story.

Having worked with a series of interior designers on their branding, we know that sometimes an overly fussy or idiosyncratic website distracts from their work, but in this case we needn’t have worried. Showing Tom the initial drawings, we pitched our idea of an illustration-based web design – and he was on board immediately.

illustration-based web design
illustration-based web design

Luck of the draw

As we began laying out the web pages, Kristina’s illustrated motifs were central to the project. I often talk about our work ‘framing’ the work of interior designers. That usually refers to the website being secondary to the photography, which after all is the purpose of the site. In fact, in Tom’s work he regularly commissions artists to create murals or other hand-painted elements, so the idea that something custom might adorn his site felt like a logical next step. It just sat so perfectly with the work.

As a result, the drawings began to feel more significant. The picture frames we’d drawn began to sit around Tom’s work in our designs, acting as more than just parts of the layout but navigation elements. In this way, the illustration-based web design we’d pitched moved ‘beyond the decorative’ and became inherent to the project.

The end result speaks for itself – a beautiful project that stands apart from our recent work in its unique style and beauty.

illustration-based web design
illustration-based web design

Consider illustration-based web design to stand out from the crowd

The drawings in this project intrigue me and show the many ways illustration can set a different mood from your competition. Take for instance Moonfire in the financial services field, skiing holiday company The Alpine Generation, or just recently Middle-Eastern tech firm incubator Anamcara.

If you’re interested in an approach to a website which considers the best way of presenting your portfolio, we’d be interested in your brief. Whatever industry you work in, we can help you achieve that, working within or imaginatively beyond your current brand.

Call us on 020 7351 4083 or email direct to tell us all about it.