Design Date with Sophie Ashby

Led by creative director Sophie Ashby, Studio Ashby has a highly individual approach to residential and commercial projects. Her work on show apartments for luxury developments such as South Bank Tower and The Colyer in Covent Garden demonstrate how developers are now seeking a much more personalised kind of design, mixing art, vintage pieces and the unexpected – something that stands out from the crowd. Her broad experience and lively style will be fruitful fodder for her Conversations in Design talk, on the subject of the rise of individualism and creative expression.

Conversations in Design:
Rooms of Our Own, 11.30am, Tuesday 6 March

You’re speaking on a panel about ‘individualism’ – has the idea of individual creative expression moved higher up the pecking order in interior design?
I think individualism in interior design is always high up the list. Every interior is a reflection of a client’s own quirks and passions and nobody wants their home, bar, hotel or restaurant to be like another’s. We play with the juxtaposition of opposing elements: the raw with the refined, natural with manmade, neutrals with colours, antique with contemporary, the minimal with the rich, the expected and the surprising. We believe there is a poetry in the tension of these combinations, the careful layering of which brings character, atmosphere and feeling to interiors. We are driven by beauty, discovery and the potential for telling stories with interior design.

Where would you head to first on a visit to Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour?
Pierre Frey, Dedar and Lewis & Wood are some of my favourites.

Is there a product or showroom at the Design Centre you’ve had your eye on for a while, saving it up for the right project?
I’ve got my eye on some particularly beautiful fabrics at Colony I would like to use.

What are the ingredients of the perfect interior?
It is my belief that an art collection is the soul of a home. Much of the magic of an interior comes from the authentic and the surprising; and playing with art is the simplest way to evoke those feelings. The power of a photograph, a painting or a sculpture is awesome; awesome in the old-fashioned sense of the word, awesome because it has the ability to reach out and talk to you. As far as I have worked out, it is absolutely the magic ingredient in creating a strong sense of home.

Is craftsmanship an important part of your work?
Studio Ashby’s relationship with artisans and craftsmen plays an integral role in developing each project. I am learning that creative excitement is born from new conversations with the inspired people I meet: the makers, craftsmen, artists and artisans who pass through our studio and show us their wares, skills, products and passions.

Where do you feel at your most creative?
When I am relaxed, on holiday, strolling around an exhibition or on a country walk, with time to think and dream, plot and plan.

What are you currently working on?
Some very exciting private residential projects in London and further afield.

Do you collect anything?
Art. At the moment I am focusing on contemporary African art but I am also scouring eBay for German ceramics, Murano glass and Oriental lacquered keepsake boxes!

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