Words by Fabric Magazine


Having grown up in South Africa and studied in New York before settling into her Portobello Road pad, Sophie’s biggest influence, when it comes to putting together an interiors look, is travel.”I’m always picking up objects and finding local suppliers everywhere I go”, she tells me. Global influences can be found not only in the one-bed apartment she shares with boyfriend, menswear designer Charlie Casely­-Hayford, but in her professional work, too, as Studio Ashby. She’s currently designing a Nigerian restaurant called Ikoyi and is about to complete the re-design of a boutique hotel in South Africa. “It’s a country that means a huge amount to me”, she enthuses.“Taking inspiration from the local scenery, and furnishing the hotel using 100 per cent locally-sourced design, my mission is that the hotel becomes a better reflection of the exciting things happening in design in this vibrant country.”

Back home, the Notting Hill flat – a characterful Victorian conversion – is a cosy affair, where cool midcentury pieces coexist with rustic furnishings and tribal relics. A neutral palette with monochrome accents maximises on light and space, giving the apartment a sense of calm rather than clutter. Sophie describes the look as “eclectic, layered and homely.” She’s not wrong. There’s interest at every turn, whether that’s a stack of well-thumbed books, a striking ornament from her travels, or her enviable collection of framed prints and canvasses. She tells me: “I always try to build rooms around works of art and meaningful objects so each room is incredibly personal. I’ve completely run out of wall space now at home now and the steady stream of new artworks will have to live on the floor until I get a bigger place!” With Portobello Market on her doorstep, I imagine Sophie’s a dab hand at spotting a thrifty vintage find.

I discover, in fact, she’s a regular, and gets her snooper’s fix both in and out of town: “I scour antiques markets all the time. We go most months to the market at Kempton racecourse. It’s an early start but well worth it if you’re willing to get your elbows out and make quick decisions! But the best find in my house is the little Art Deco library table which I got at Alfies Market. It’s burr walnut with a marble top and on little castors. It’s a very useful thing but it’s also lovely in its materiality.” Of course, pre-loved vintage pieces like this give any home a lived-in feel and Sophie’s has that by the bucket-load. It’s refreshing, too, to hear that home and work projects are approached with the same ethos and passion: “My personal interiors style is really the same as Studio Ashby’s, as I put so much of myself and my own taste into each project.”

I wonder how important character is for the interior designer. Does she prefer to work with period features, or the blank canvas of a new build? “Character is essential for me, but I don’t think that always means period features or historical settings. A modern house that’s designed with authenticity and purpose can have as much character as a Georgian townhouse and probably gives you more space to work with as an interior designer.”

Which are Sophie’s go-to brands, both at home and when designing for a client? “I think the Conran Shop is genius; it’s so beautifully curated, they make it impossible to go in there without walking out with something. My favourite shop for accessories and stunning objects is Willer. I love The New Craftsmen, too. Their selection is very unique and it’s a pleasure to buy something from them, knowing you are supporting British craft.

Read the full article here.

Studio Ashby Ltd.,Unit 215, Grand Union Studios, 332 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 5AD, 020 3176 2571,

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