On Design: Ransom & Dunn

A creative collaboration between American-born, London-based founders, Julia Ransom and Johanna Dunn, Ransom & Dunn is a lifestyle and interiors brand with a vision of balance, exploring the harmony between aesthetic and function, classic and contemporary, and strength and sensuality. Their inaugural collection,Foundations, launches this month.

Photography by Billal Taright

Ransom and Dunn

How did you meet, and where did the idea for Ransom & Dunn come from?

JD: We met originally in New York over 10 years ago and then reconnected over lunch in London five years later. We were surprisingly in sync, having both lived in New York and then made the move to London. We spent a whole afternoon talking about life, fashion, design and interiors, and left the lunch brimming with ideas – but the timing didn’t feel right back then. We revisited the idea again in 2019 and decided to make Ransom & Dunn a reality. It’s truly been the best decision we could have made, we have an absolute blast working together and we’re both hugely proud of what we’ve created – and we’re excited to share it with the world!

What were you both doing before?

JD: My background is in buying, e-commerce and marketing. I started at Saks Fifth Avenue and went on to Mytheresa in New York and Munich before joining Fabrizio Viti and then consulting for a host of brands. I studied Art History at University of Pennsylvania and received an MBA at London Business School.
JR: I’ve been on quite an eclectic journey… I started my career in publishing at Vanity Fair and GQ in New York before working on Wall Street and for a few design start-ups. I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York and Inchbald School of Design in London five years ago.
JD: I think our backgrounds really complement each other. Julia takes the lead on the creative side and I refine the (many!) ideas from a more editorial and retail perspective.

How would you sum up your design ethos?

JR: In three words – refined, elevated, classic.
JD: In essence, we wanted to create a capsule collection of essential pieces for the home; contemporary pieces with a timeless quality.

Can you tell me about the role of sustainability at Ransom & Dunn?

JD: We think and live by creating considered cornerstones for the home, products that are new and modern, yet made to last. We do not create fast furniture and we believe in the longevity of our product.
JR: Our goal is to inspire a more sustainable way of living, while dedicating ourselves to being a socially responsible business. We work and think by a responsible business checklist: fair wages to workers, safe working environments, prioritising materials that are natural with a minimum carbon footprint, and creating products to last for generations.

Ransom and Dunn Mirrors

How does travel influence your work?

JR: It’s so enriching. Every time I go away, I feel as though my perspective and vision has been re-energised. Our collection was actually conceived on the beaches of the Cyclades and Dodecanese and as you will see, the design elements allude to the colours, texture and rock formations of these regions.

Which emerging trends are you seeing in the luxury interiors market?

JD: I think there’s a renewed energy and focus for natural, sustainable and repurposed materials in the luxury interiors world, with more and more independent designers and larger design houses exploring new ways of innovating them in their pieces and projects.
JR: We’re noting the design world has a new obsession with steel specifically… We are personally very drawn to blackened steel and brushed aluminium and are looking at how we can work with these in the most sustainable ways. I would also say there has been a definite shift in what is considered luxury, and we have noticed the top interior and product designers’ collections have a hand-hewn, artisanal feel to them.

What can we expect from the inaugural collection?

JD: Like the key pieces of a refined and timeless wardrobe, Foundations is a considered collection of special furniture pieces and objets that make up the essential cornerstones of a home. Expect sculptural silhouettes and statuesque proportions. JR: The Venus floor lamps are a personal favourite of mine, modelled after the harmonious curves of the female form and hand sculpted in a white plaster finish with free-hand texture. I love the scale and proportions of all of our floor mirrors, but the Palladio mirror is definitely another highlight. It takes its name from one of the most influential Italian architects, Andrea Palladio and we designed it to be a functional centrepiece for a hallway or room.
JD: I have fallen further in love with our Roman Column Bar now that I am living with it. Its fluting is inspired by the classical architecture of ancient Greece while its lacquer finish and functionality make it contemporary and a striking piece in my home.

What’s next for Ransom & Dunn?

JD: We’ll be showcasing Foundations in London this summer. Our dream would be to eventually have a physical location with a beautiful café bar in the space where people can really experience our collection. We’re excited to see where this journey takes us.