Since 1958, Vogue House, a property of the Church of England, has been the home of Condé Nast. Within its walls, some of the most prestigious magazine titles in the world were developed. However, ‘The World of Interiors’, initially known simply as ‘Interiors’, had a different origin. It was conceived above a flower shop by publisher Kevin Kelly and editor Min Hogg, who connected after Hogg responded to an ad seeking an editor for an international arts and interiors magazine. In her application, Hogg expressed her discontent with existing publications, as well as her vision for an ideal interiors magazine; not long after the magazine was born. In 1982 Condé Nast acquired a half interest in ‘Interiors’, and renamed it ‘The World of Interiors’, and relocated it to a new premises.
This week's Tete a Tat, Jessica Hayns, knows all too well the history of ‘The World of Interiors’, having worked there for 30 years. Her journey started via another wanted ad; at the time she worked in textile design, travelling throughout Europe to “flog her wares to fashion houses”. While studying, she bought 'Interiors' when she could afford it, and so she thought that she would apply to this somewhat mysterious ad. As Jessica tells it: “Min called me in for an interview. I showed her my designs and, yes, pictures of my bedroom and possessions. Based on that, she gave me a job. I don't think she ever looked at my CV or qualifications; it was all about the eye with Min. I remember receiving a postcard from her that I still have somewhere, offering me the post of Stylist, and wondering what that was! Needless to say, I accepted anyway!”.
The rest, as they say, is history; Hayns’ portfolio as a stylist (a title that does not do her justice) is second to none. She has created jaw-droppingly beautiful shots, which would make for one hell of an exhibition; I would be first in line. In 2015 I was lucky enough to assist on a shoot with Jessica and photographer Bill Batten, an experience filled with laughter and resulting in the creation of exceptional beauty. It is still memorable today. I knew Jessica would be weary of participating in Tete a Tat, but I was delighted she accepted.
A lot of my favourite restaurants have sadly come and gone, but somewhere I have always liked, and most importantly where the food is always good, is St John.I also like its simple decor, nothing to put me off my food!
Best Piece of Advice?
My parents always encouraged me to be myself and follow my dreams, however impractical they may have seemed! It's the best advice anyone could be given. I will add to that something that Min Hogg always said, never be too fashionable. It is something I understand more as I get older, and I think one of the reasons why her World of Interiors still feels as fresh as it does, it's still better than anything now.
Top Destination in the UK?
The Western Isles and far west of Scotland. It’s the place I have loved the most in my life. I am lucky enough to have known it well for almost fifty years. I love it so much I am not going to say exactly where!
Do I Believe In Ghosts?
Yes, I had one vivid encounter.
If money was no object, what would you do with your days?
There are so many things! And money is not the only thing you need to be totally free, but I think a year living in Italy, Rome ideally, being taught to paint classically is one thing I would like to do.
What language would like to be able to speak?
Greek, just think of the conversations!
A film that you can watch again and again?
There are quite a few. I have a drawer full of DVDs in London. [archaic, I know!] But if it's just one, then it has to be: I know Where I'm going! by Powell and Pressburger.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Both, depending on circumstances!
The Iliad Homer
That’s really hard, but one thing that immediately came to my mind is the lapis blue Giotto used to paint the ceiling in the Scrovegni Chapel.
A song that always makes you tap your foot?
Desolation Row by Bob Dylan