Australian-based French designer Léo Terrando has left his 14-year post at SJB to start his own boutique design firm, focused on premium luxury interiors.

Carving out a niche for himself in the industry through bringing depth to design spaces that tell stories through their complexities, the designer brings two decades of industry experience to a new front, continuing to specialise in hospitality, commercial and residential interiors.

“Leaving SJB is still very difficult. I shared a lot of really great memories with my business partner. I learned a lot from him, we travelled together and we did some pretty great things,” says Terrando, who had been a director at SJB for five years.

Terrando says in an interview with Indesignlive that the logistical processes associated with venturing into a new business was one of unprecedented adversity.

“I had absolutely no idea of what was involved to start my own business,” says Terrando. “To run and design a project, I can do it with closed eyes. But to start a business from the beginning, that was a big challenge.”

“As soon as I started my own thing it just opened the door to new opportunities and that’s pretty exciting. Suddenly I’m facing all of these people with amazing projects and amazing opportunities.”

Dinner with friends from France a few months back led to new introductions to a few friendly acquaintances — two of whom soon became his first clients as a solo designer. One needed assistance on a large residential project in Bells Beach, another was looking for a designer for their brand’s Melbourne flagship store.

Terrando had just wrapped up the documentation for the store when the client let him know that they wanted him to design their stores in Sydney, London, Paris and New York too. Other items on the drawing board include a hotel and a restaurant – both in Melbourne.

The designer says a lot of people prefer to work with smaller design companies rather than the large firms, due to the personalised feel that comes with the projects.

“By doing my own brand, I still want to have people working for me and with me. But I don’t want a lot of projects, I just want a few. My dream office would have one of each project: one hotel, one bar, one house, one commercial project,” he says.

He aims to keep the company small in order to maintain the bespoke and personalised element of the work, but endeavours to expand the team in order to share the workload, without overloading personnel. 

“When I have another project come in, we’ll have to employ another person. I’m planning to have maybe in total five or six people, but no more,” says Terrando.

For more information regarding Terrando’s new practice and projects, visit