Design duo swap France for Cirencester
By Laura Enfield | 30th January 2023
Design duo Graham and Candida Thomson prefer not to take risks with their clients but certainly have in their own lives.
The husband and wife opened Fairfax Thomson Interiors in Cirencester in midst of the pandemic, shortly after returning to the Cotswolds following a decade-long sojourn in France.
They pushed the envelope to stand out from their rivals- opening a shop and studio in Gosditch Street where they showcase English and French brands.
Graham said: "It was tough, to open and then be required to close again pretty soon after for another lockdown.
"It was also a huge risk but we were used to taking risks having moved to France in 2008 at the height of another financial crisis.
"I suppose if anyone looks for the perfect conditions to open a new business then very few would actually open. Perhaps 'fortune favours the brave'?"
The risk has paid off with the couple attracting collaborations with contestants from The Great Pottery Throw Down - Miles Johnson and Nick Robatto. Their pieces are showcased in the shop alongside examples of furniture, lighting, fabric and wallpapers from prestigious English and French brands.
Graham said: "There is a lot of competition in the Cotswolds although many interior designers don't have a high street presence but tend to work from home.
"We feel that having our studio in the centre of Cirencester gives clients a comfortable environment where they are inspired."
Their appetite for risk ends at the studio door though as Graham said they focus on "form, fit and function" rather than outlandish designs.
Candida is the professionally qualified interior designer and client face of the business while Graham provides project management expertise.
He said: "We design spaces for our clients that are comfortable and very liveable tending towards the classical rather than the radical - we will leave the wacky to others."
That said, the couple who live near Cirencester, did once present a Steam Punk design for a former prison in Offenberg. But here in the Cotswolds their ideas are governed by the varied architecture and tastes of their clients.
"There is a view that Cotswolds' properties are all rose-covered cottages but the range of property styles is very wide - old, new, traditional and modern," said Graham.
"We are able to adapt our design schemes to bring out the character of each property and living space."
Anyone who visits the shop is likely to meet the third member of their team Standard Poodle Charley Brown and will notice the couple has brought a touch of France back home with them.
They moved to the historic town of Beaune in Burgundy 14 years ago after a major health scare made them reassess their lives and established a multi award-winning interiors business.
Their work ranged from winemaker's houses to luxury hotel barges, all while navigating the notorious French bureaucracy and language barrier.
Graham said: "Our time there was great and we enjoyed not only being immersed in this great wine region but living in a completely different culture."
They moved back to the UK mainly due to Brexit and now focus on making their Cotswolds client's dreams come true.
Graham said: "We pride ourselves on seeking out beautiful things which are not available everywhere.
"We have many inspiring and desirable items which will add a fabulous "je ne sais quoi" and touch of 'French chic' to your home."
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