Interview : Mario Joakim of Mushroom Designs

Mushroom Designs Totnes Devon Lighting Showroom

I have been meaning to tell you guys about Mushroom Designs for so long, and now I have finally gotten around to it. I was first introduced to it by a friend who spotted the shop on Totnes highstreet. She told me all about it because she knew I would love it and she wasn’t wrong. When I went to visit the shop myself, I was not disappointed. It is bursting with beautiful, colourful, and elegant lighting designs and accessories, including metallic ceiling roses, hooks and colourful flexes. But it also stocks paint, audio devices and the odd bit of artwork. The shop is owned by Mario Joakim and it is a real treat to visit. So next time you’re in Devon I suggest you pop along and take a look. Or if you’re not venturing down south any time soon you can catch Mario at Top Drawer in London from 11-13th September 2016 on Stand SP120. Don’t forget to tell him I sent you! Now, let’s get on with the interview so you can find out a little bit more about Mario and his beautiful Devon-based business.

Mushroom Designs Totnes Devon Fresia Brown glass pendant light

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I grew in North London, my parents had dress factories for many years. I am Greek Cypriot and there were many Greek Cypriots in the Rag Trade back in those days. For my first good job back in my early 20’s I worked in Camden for Getty Images in the probably now redundant analogue department. We dealt with all the duplicate film catalogue stock images that were sent all over the world to Getty offices and agencies. They were a great company and I loved working there. Their parties were amazing too!

Following that I was offered a position by wife’s father to work in his bathroom designs and supply company in Esher, Surrey. I worked there for 10 years, designing and specifying bathrooms. I spent the last three years running the showroom and It is one the sharpest looking showroom in the South East. The Company is called Bathroom Gallery and is still going well. Again a great job and I learnt a lot about interiors and design, working with many architects and interiors designers over the years.

Mushroom Designs Totnes Devon Lighting Showroom

When did you first discover your love of design and lighting in particular?

I always loved cool interiors and especially colour. When I opened Mushroom Designs I swiftly fell in love with lighting. There were so many great designs out there and everything was becoming more decorative and three dimensional.

Mushroom Designs Large Prado Purple Glass Ceiling Light

So how did you end up living and working in Devon?

I lived in North London until my mid twenties and then spent the next 10 years in Surrey with my wife and family. A few years ago we decided to move to the country and chose Devon as it is beautiful and we have family here.

Mushroom Designs Totnes Devon Lighting Showroom Earthborn Paint display

Why did you choose to set up shop in Totnes in particular? What is the best thing about working in Totnes?

It was the area we choose to live near when moving and was perfect for an independent business like mine. There are many great shops and many makers and designers around. I like Totnes because you meet many different people as it is busy and vibrant but in a slower Devon way.

mushroom designs totnes devon trivy brushed brass task light

Can you describe your shop and tell us what people can expect to find there?

The shop is very clean and contemporary. It has lots of beautiful glass lights in over 10 colours and now has a big area dedicated to our new range, Atom, which is a design-your-own lighting range where you can create your own chandeliers and clusters.

Mushroom designs Totnes Devon atom spot grey glass chandelier

What’s the story behind the name? Why did you choose to call it Mushroom Designs?

A few years ago, when I was working in the Bathroom Industry, the most popular furniture finish was a mushroom colour so while thinking of names for the business mushroom came to mind so I thought lets call it Mushroom Designs. It was different and sounds a bit funky.

Mushroom Designs Totnes Devon Lighting Showroom

How and where do you source the products that you sell in your shop?

All my components come from British manufacturers and my glass is blown and sprayed in Portugal.

Mushroom designs Totnes Devon atom spot purple glass chandelier

You are just about to launch your very own lighting range. What prompted this?

I think when you are a little creative you want to create things and sometimes unique things. When I decided to create these ranges I did it because I felt that they hopefully would sell and that there was nothing quite like them on the market. So to put it simply I wanted to have my own ranges which were unique. Something that would give the store substance and identity.

Mushroom designs Totnes Devon atom 9 shade grey glass chandelier

Can you tell us a little bit about the manufacturing process of the Atom collection?

I have designed the collection, we always had beautiful bespoke lighting components in the store so I decided to have some small spherical glass shades made to create some unique contemporary chandeliers. This process began late last year and now we have a massive collection of beautiful chandeliers. I have also had some great photography done for the range by interior Photographer Rachel Hoile who is based in Dartington. She has shot the lights beautifully and is also great fun to work with.

Mushroom designs Totnes Devon mega atom turquoise glass chandelier

You will be exhibiting at Top Drawer in September. Why should people stop by your stand to see you?

To see something a little different. Our chandeliers have beautiful colour, form and dimension. They can look very elegant or extremely funky.

So what do you guys think? Will Mushroom Designs be on your list of places to visit next time you’re down my way in Devon? Or are you going to stop by at Top Drawer later this month?

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