Industry Profile: Joanna Bibby

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One half of tightly-knit design company Ochre, designer Joanna Bibby returned to art school in her thirties, after spending her twenties working as a cook. She founded Ochre in 1996 with Harriet Maxwell MacDonald, who she met while studying. Solenne de la Fouchardière became the third partner and the team continued to expand their horizons, united by their love for the beauty of the understated. Today Ochre is an international brand with an influential collection of furniture, lighting and accessories. 

How did you start out in the industry?

Harriet and I joined forces after leaving art school. It was all very organic with no big business plan or long-term agenda but with a lot of passion for design.

What’s been your proudest career moment to date?

Not quite a ‘moment’ but I am very proud that we are still going strong after 17 years and making a living doing what we love.

Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?

Designing new products with Harriet and Solenne and working with specialist British craftsmen learning about unusual techniques and intriging materials.

What do you love the most about exhibiting at Decorex?

The location is so lovely, surrounded by trees and in the grounds of the fabulous Royal Hospital, Chelsea. It’s a great place to catch up with fellow exhibitors who we often don’t see from one year to the next.

Did you launch any exciting new products at this year’s show?

Our Seed Cloud Family of lighting (pictured), which combines cast bronze buds with fat glass drops illuminated by hidden LED bulbs. The variety of combinations is endless, from a few little drops together to a large cluster.

Who or what inspires you?

It is impossible to be specific. My eyes are open all the time absorbing what’s around me. The natural world is pure genius and a constant inspiration with its shapes, colours and mechanical workings. 

If we could give you an extra day per week, what would you spend it doing?

Drawing and painting. I just don’t do enough and I absolutely love it.

Where do you live and why?

In the West Country with excellent train access to London. I live in a red-brick 1930s bungalow on a wee lane with lovely views across fields. It’s not a looker but I’m planning some creative alterations and daring additions at the moment so hopefully it will be soon.

To find out more, visit the Ochre website.

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