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Meghan McNeer

Pippa Small is not the type of person to live in a minimalist white box. “Color just makes me happy,” she says emphatically. The jewelry designer’s passion for vibrant hues is apparent throughout her small flat in London’s North Kensington neighborhood, which she shares with her 6-year-old twins, Mac and Madeleine. Another highlight: the lovingly curated collections of pieces from Afghanistan, Bolivia, and other far-flung places she regularly visits to create her designs with local artisans.

A lifelong traveler who grew up in a globe-trotting family, Small spent her childhood meeting the Maasai people in Tanzania and befriending Berbers in Morocco with her adventurous painter mother. The experiences “ignited this fascination in me with the way other people live—their religion, their environment, their landscapes,” she says.

As a young adult, she pursued a career in NGOs, fighting for land and cultural rights, before moving to Borneo while completing her master’s degree in medical anthropology. “There is something endlessly fascinating about human creativity and its ability to transform materials,” says Small, who saw a way to work with communities whose skills and traditions were in danger of disappearing.

With that in mind, she launched her fine jewelry business in 1995 and started collaborating with the very indigenous and tribal people she had been helping. After landing a collection at Barneys New York, big-name fashion designers like Tom Ford and Phoebe Philo soon came calling.

At home, Small’s travels are reflected in every corner. Much like her jewelry—which follows the natural shapes of stones in clean, simple designs—her unique spaces celebrate imperfection and fluidity. “I use my flat as a constant source of inspiration,” she says. Here, she walks us through some of her decorating ideas.

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Meghan McNeer

Find Your Palette

Sticking to particular colors helps “unite everything,” according to Small, who suggests picking your favorites and keeping within that spectrum—whether earth tones or pastel hues. The saturated pinks, purples, and oranges that might otherwise look jarring together create a cohesive whole when woven into textiles and art across the space. “It’s a celebration of life, embracing color like that,” says Small, who painted her bedroom a “remarkably soothing” turquoise that reminds her of aquamarine stones.

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Meghan McNeer

Turn Storage Into Display

The designer often brings her work home in the form of souvenirs from travels and inspiration for future pieces. Beads picked up in India and South America are draped over an African wooden bowl. The open shelves in the living room cupboard show off Small’s collection of ceramic objets from Japan and wooden toys from the Guna people of Panama. And in the kitchen, vintage plates and teacups stored on a wooden rack create a whimsical touch. Each item contains a personal memory or “untold story,” adding to the overall narrative.

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Meghan McNeer

Create a Tactile Reality

Small turns to books as a reference rather than Pinterest—and her well-stocked bookshelves and stacks of tomes scattered throughout the space reflect that preference. “Learning to read was the equivalent of getting a driver’s license for me,” says Small, who owns hundreds of books on tribal cultures, mythology, and ancient jewelry. “It’s lovely to have elements
that have a human connection to them. It brings a different dimension to your home.”

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Meghan McNeer
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Meghan McNeer

Mix and Match to the Max

The living room, drenched in a chalky lavender that changes color throughout the day, complements the designer’s love of boldly patterned textiles, which cover most surfaces, including coffee tables, sofas, walls, and floors. A “purely accidental” group of mismatched chairs (some inherited, others acquired) create the cozy dining nook, along with one of many pillow collections made with Bolivian frazadas, Turkish kilims, Moroccan ikat, and Indian silk fabrics.

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Shop the look:

01 Vintage Moroccan Wool Rug, ABC Carpet & Home, $2,100 
02 Bobblehead Tiger, Cargo, $28
03 Tinware Latte Cup, Canvas, $12
04 Tea Jar, Fabienne Jouvin, $945
05 Karo Pillow, Bole Road Textiles, $185
06 Pacific Teak Wood Appetizer Plate, CB2, $15 
07 Kantha Quilts, Cargo, $140
08 Cactus Silk XLII Textile, St. Frank, $995 
09 Maximal Dessert Plates, La DoubleJ, $350 for 6

This story originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue with the headline “Collected and Composed.”