Hemp Day

Hemp DayGlobetrotting designer Jenny Newton makes the case for classy hemp

Designer Jenny Newton’s influences could only be diverse, given her upbringing in South Africa, Zaire and France, her education in the UK and Ireland and her work history in the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong among others. After founding the interior design firm Newton Concepts in 2006, she made her way to Australia, where she’s focused on the currently iteration of her business, the eponymous Jenny Newton.

Does all this jet setting have an influence on her design philosophy? “I have definitely been very inspired by different cultural aesthetics, from indigenous cultures to classic ones. Perhaps my passion for mud and hemp building has been inspired by my African roots,” she theorises. “But living in Europe for so long, in particular Paris and London, has definitely ingrained in me an appreciation for beautiful building that stands the test of time.”

To that end Newton’s furniture collection marries non-traditional materials with contemporary aesthetics for a line that is stylish, inviting and innovative. Reclaimed woods, hemp, silk, bamboo and steel are some of its hallmarks. As Newton explains it, “I love the aesthetic of materials in their raw and most honest form. I am naturally drawn towards a more industrial style and enjoy working with the rich patina that steel develops over time. I am also drawn to organic textures hence my love of reclaimed old wood, mud adobe, linens, silks and hemp,” she says of her signature style. The rich Alchemy line is defined by its reclaimed wood and stainless steel materials, and the breezy Tennyson line by its linen, jute and glass. Did we mention the final products are also largely eco-friendly in a way that transcends recycling?

A major element in Newton’s furniture, as she mentioned, is hemp. Long confused with its more psychoactive cousin, marijuana, the cannabis plant that is hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly, durable and sustainable crops in the world — and China is the leading producer of it. It remains a controversial material, as many governments do not distinguish between hemp and pot, but Newton sees big things for it in the future, and she’s working with it now.

“Hemp has the potential to completely revolutionise the way we build. It is not only biodegradable as a building material but actually absorbs carbon. When we consider that the construction industry is responsible for more than 30 percent of carbon emissions this is a major change!” Newton enthuses. She’s just launched a new line of outdoor loungers whose bases are made with hemp, and for all intents and purposes they function just like concrete. They’ll be available to Hong Kong consumers soon. “I now incorporate hemp into much of my interiors in Sydney and am bringing this now to Hong Kong; it really is a wonderful substitute to concrete. Not only is it far more eco-friendly but it has a great warmth which only natural materials possess,” she finishes.

The best way to check out Newton’s collection right now is online, unless you happen to be in Sydney and can drop into the showroom. But Newton can come to you too. “I have my main showroom … but can arrange for private viewings in Hong Kong, where I have many interior design projects,” she assures. Assuming you can catch her in town of course.