I ALWAYS thought I wanted to be a lawyer till my art teacher said, “have you considered looking into architecture?”
And I said “Not at all”. She said “Well, for the past seven years you’ve been drawing buildings. I don’t think you have ever drawn a person.” Then I remembered how when I was 10 I’d drawn up little floor plans of my bedroom with my furniture to scale and did a whole lot of options of how it could be laid out. And it didn’t strike me as abnormal!
It’s a great luxury to be able to do what you love. I’ve had my own company now for 13 years, which makes me feel old. I started working for Crone Associates on large-scale commercial building but I just found that I love designing a complete space. So rather than just designing the shell or the interior or just doing styling, I feel really excited about being able to have a total vision for a space.
We’ve been naturally drawn to working on hotels because we love the idea of coming up with this complete package or completely bespoke service. So we’ve created a studio where we have architects, interior architects, interior designers, graphic designers and furniture designers, all working together to try and get that one space to work. It’s really a very intense level of design.
I think it’s a really exciting time for the business. In a dream scenario we would have this business stay the same size and build another business internationally. The drug for me is the whole process of design – envisaging interiors and the process of building that and the craft around it and then seeing it realised. That’s why you get up every day, so I never want to give that up for power and money. It’s so important to me to maintain that that because that love is who I am and that makes me happy every day.
I’m Blainey because my mother wanted Bonnie and my father wanted Laney. But I have this secret alias I use which is Bonnie Monroe because otherwise I have to go through this process of my name is Blainey North, it’s not two people. I kind of like it now but it’s been hard.
My husband and I are starting to renovate our place in Potts Point. It’s the hardest thing you could ever do, doing your own place, though. Too many possibilities. So some of the guys in the office said we think it should be like a scene at the opera. I said to my husband (Keith Rodger), “you’re meant to be the audience!” He’s Russell Crowe’s business manager, so he’s really very interested in the arts, so he gets the whole thing.
Check out some of her work using the arrows bellow: