Driven by a “love of ‘things’ and the power they hold to make you feel a certain way”, London-based interior designer Sophie Ashby, director of Studio Ashby, has established her signature practice in applying the inspiration found in the array of cultures she experienced growing up to the interiors she designs today. With a childhood spent moving from country to country and in turn climate, (London to Cape Town, to Devon, to Portugal and finally back to London) Sophie learnt first-hand the power of transferring household staples and old keepsakes into a new setting to ensure familiarity and most importantly, comfort. It’s this authentic attitude that makes Studio Ashby’s practice unique and full of soul born from Sophie’s life experience. Here she shares some of the senses from her world.
1. The Lyceum Theatre in London is one of the most special places in the world to me
It’s the first time I clapped eyes on my boyfriend Charlie (it was a blind date) and I will never forget the giddy feeling of seeing his lovely face for the first time. That spot will forever more be the place it all began.
2. I love the smell of pine and cypress trees
All my childhood homes have had pine trees in the garden, the smell can transport me to the side of a mountain in South Africa or my parent’s home in the hills of Portugal.
3. I think the creation of comfort and joy has to involve all the senses to be successful
We’ve recently designed a hotel where we really thought hard about the experience of all the senses; from the playlist we worked with a DJ to create, the scent we developed with the perfumer, to the menu development and subsequent smells of freshly baked bread every morning (encouraged to waft down the corridors) to the feel of beautiful mohairs, wools, velvets to touch.
4. If I could travel back in time, I’d go to the 60s
I would like to know what the new and the shocking really felt like to experience for the first time. I imagine it to be free, smokey, technicolour, exciting and hopeful.
5. That awe-inspired feeling from nature is very powerful to me
Not just the beauty of nature but the feeling of experiencing nature or witnessing it. The sounds of the beach, the wind, the waves and the birds makes me feel small and I like being reminded by nature that I am small – just a dot.