Barry du Bois is something of a Renaissance man. Sure, he’s good with his hands, but he’s also a philosopher and a humanist. So it comes as no surprise to us that he counts cultural heavyweights like Michelangelo, Mark Twain and interior designer Maurizio Bruno as mentors.
For Baz, interior design pivots on the personal. It’s about creating an evocative environment that has history + meaning for the people it holds. The true wow factor is that feeling of home – the perfect fusion of comfort, familiarity and function. Understanding and enhancing the way a family uses their space is the key to creating inspired design.
Barry has 30 years of experience in developing, building and designing homes. It has always been a passion. Plus, he’s a blahdy hard worker – this man is driven – a trait he attributes to his parents. At 19, he bought his first block of land, and designed + built his first house. He was working as a carpenter at the time, so the work was done on weekends in his spare time. When he sold the house a year later, the die was cast. And Barry became a very busy man.
The building business that followed grew exponentially. And perhaps it’s Baz’s lack of pretensions that holds the secret to his success. Baz was schooled by experience. He has an innate curiosity for knowledge. He travels. He asks questions. He’s steeped himself in the history of European architecture and theories of human movement. And though he likes to play it down, this man’s got his head firmly screwed on the right way.
What’s more, he knows people.
Family is a priority for Baz. His relationship with his parents led to him retire (temporarily) at 46. Losing his mother to cancer compelled him to seize the day. He bought a yacht and enjoyed three seasons sailing the Mediterranean with his dad before his dad passed.
Baz and his wife have had their own battle to have children. And now with the help of a surrogate, they have two junior Du Boises to take care of. With such a strong emphasis on family in his own life, it’s easy to understand the importance Baz places on people’s relationships with each other and with their space.
He has a genuine interest in the people he meets. And he uses his insight into their personalities to design their homes.
“All my inspiration comes from the client,” Barry says. “My mission as a designer is to take my brief and instil it with the sophistication + philosophy of architecture so that it delivers poetry.”
The first point of call is to look at how people will move through a space. “Space isn’t about furniture – it’s about humans,” he says. “You need to look at the entry and exit points in the room and map how they will circumnavigate that space. This defines the size of the furniture you need to make the most of your space. It’s easy to fall in love with a beautiful piece in a showroom, but if it doesn’t suit your life or your room, it’s irrelevant.”
In the vignettes he creates within rooms, it is an emotive response that drives his vision. “When the sun hits your shoulder and you’re reminded of some warm memory in your life – that’s what it’s about. It has to be personal,” he says. “Otherwise you’re taking a snapshot of someone else’s life and trying to make it fit.”
An understanding of the focal point within your space also helps to define its design, whether that’s the windows, the light source, or a signature piece of furniture. And from here, increasing the functionality is the final win. Baz is always looking for ways to optimise a room so it delivers on multiple levels.
“If I create a space for you to read or occasionally watch TV in your living room during summer, a simple re-orientation of the space can transform it into a cosy winter nook. Instantly you’ve doubled the useability of your room – you’ve created two spaces that you can enjoy throughout the year.”
Baz counts Maurizio Bruno as a strong influence on his understanding of design. He and the Italian interior designer hit it off when they worked together. Their conversations became a source of inspiration for Baz. Similarly, he draws motivation from the historical masters. “You only have to look at Michelangelo’s architecture to understand why it still translates. There’s a reason why it transcends its own time.”
For those moments when he’s stuck? Baz calls on Mark Twain for inspiration. He reads Twain’s letter to (Joseph Twichell) on his home Hartford Mansion. “I put myself in that space and I read it to myself. And in the calm, in that moment of solitude, I try to understand that space.”
He’s a diamond in the rough – our Baz. Bless his cotton socks.