Loads of color and pattern — there’s no better way to kick off a new week! I recently came across Interior Stylist Selina Lake, a fresh young talent who has already at age 26 accomplished so much – including a book soon to be released in April called Bazaar Style. Based in the charming countryside of Leicestershire, England with regular visits to London for work, her job is one many express an interest in so I thought it would be fun to interview her. Perhaps some of her words may stick and encourage other budding stylists out there to go for it! Her portfolio is certain to stimulate your creativity today so let’s meet Selina Lake, shall we?
decor8: Hi Selina! The first question I have is pretty basic but can you tell us how you came to be an stylist?
Selina: With lots of self-PR — a lot of hard work and perseverance! In the beginning I posted letters, had postcard business cards printed, sent loads of emails and made hundreds of phone calls. I basically bombarded magazine editors until I got my first styled shoot commissioned.
decor8: For those who aren’t familiar with what a stylist does, can you tell us about a normal workday for you…
Selina: Everyday is different with this job, ahead of a shoot a lot of prep work is done before hand. I work from home calling in products, organizing couriers and booking the locations. On the days when I’m shooting it usually involves arriving early at the location, after making a flower stop on the way. Then I get set up, sometimes I have a set builder to do any wallpapering, painting etc. I then work with the photographer to produce the best possible shots ? this involves lots of tweaking, plumping, polishing, ironing, flower arranging, pinning, sticking, etc.!
decor8: In England, what is the difference between an interior designer and a stylist?
Selina: I imagine all designers and stylists have a slightly different opinion on this, my understanding is an Interior Designer tends to design residential and commercial properties. They come up with designs, which meet their client’s specific requirements. An Interior stylist’s role is usually to produce images, which are used to sell products, and to inspire magazine and book readers.
decor8: What formal training do you have or if self taught, how did you learn?
Selina: I trained as a Surface Pattern designer, which was a good base to start. I learnt styling skills through assisting other stylists when I first started out. I worked on shoots for Elle Decoration, LivingEtc and Ikea Home magazine. I think a lot about being a stylist is instinctive as well you can?t be taught what looks ascetically pleasing its just in you, however I picked up lots of useful tips from the stylist I assisted.
decor8: Who are some of your clients?
Selina: I work for many UK editorials Inc: Marie Claire, Real Homes, Ideal Home, and House Beautiful. I also style advertising shoots for the Next Directory; on the last shoot I was styling the children?s bedlinen/furniture section. Plus the publishers for my new book Ryland Peters & Small.
decor8: Impressive client list! Did I hear you say earlier something about a new book? Can you elaborate? :)
Selina: Yes, my new book Bazaar Style published by Ryland Peters & Small releases in April 2008 and is about real homes furnished with intriguing pieces from different eras and cultures, which mix and match color, patterns and designs. The Bazaar look is so achievable because anything goes, in the book you discover an inspiring mix of vintage and retro influences, flea market finds and pieces inspired by a French brocante market or a Moroccan bazaar. The book will appeal to magpies who have an eye for a hidden gem on a yard-sale table or in a thrift store, so its ideal for collectors. I shot the book with photographer Debi Treloar, who has taken beautiful photographs for many Ryland Peters & Small books including: Flea Market Style and Cheap Chic. The writer I worked with, Joanna Simmons is a regular writer for Country Living UK and contributing editor for LivingEtc magazine.
decor8: That sounds fantastic, especially since Flea Market Style and Cheap Chic are two of my favorite books. Lots to look forward to. So if someone reading this interview is interested in becoming a stylist, how do you suggest they get started?
Selina: Well, I started by contacting magazines and offering (begging) to do work experience. I think that?s the best way, although there are now college courses in styling so that could be another option.
decor8: Do you blog?
Selina: No, but I?m loving looking at and reading all the lovely blogs I keep coming across. Including decor8!
decor8: Since you’re not a blogger, how do you network online?
Selina: My website has recently gone live and so far I have had lots of positive feedback and interest in my work from all over the world ? which I?m thrilled about!
decor8: Let’s talk about where you work, which I imagine is a mix between home and on location…
Selina: I?m often out propping for shoots, attending meetings or researching locations so I don?t spend all my time at home, and when I do I?m usually so busy the time whips away. When I was shooting Bazaar Style I got to travel to Amsterdam and Morocco which where both amazing!
decor8: Tell us about your workspace at home.
Selina: Sure. I work from home when I’m prepping for an upcoming shoot or when I’m writing copy. I have a large old desk (painted white), with shelves on the wall above which is storage for brightly colored hand painted Indian woven boxes, filled with old magazines, catalogues and press releases. I also have a large pin board for pinning up inspirational pictures and reminders ? it?s decorated with pink fairy lights. I use a decorative Chinese lantern as the main light shade in the room, which gives off a pink glow, and a retro desk lamp, which actually gives decent light when I?m working. Oh and I sit on a chair which I bought from village bazaar for a ?1 and painted bright pink.
decor8: Sounds lovely. Any advice for others who want to work from home but have never done it before – what keeps you focused and on track?
Selina: I feel like I?m always thinking about work? with ideas popping into my mind at anytime. My best advice would be to have a notebook to hand to scribble down notes and ideas to explore, when you?ve put that load of washing in or when the dinners cooked! My job doesn?t really feel like work, because I enjoy it so much, I think if your doing something you enjoy it?s easy to stay focused. (It works for me until I have a day of doing my accounts anyway!)
decor8: Where do you find your inspiration for design?
Selina: From all over the place, often a fabulous new product or flea market find can spark an idea for a shoot. I also love looking at my contacts photos on Flickr.
decor8: What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Selina: My Mum and Dad always told me to smile, be myself and try my best, and these gems of wisdom have served me well so far!
decor8: Describe how you feel about your work…
Selina: I LOVE my job I feel really lucky to be doing something I enjoy so much and make a living from it too.
decor8: And finally Selina, if you weren’t a stylist you would be a…..
Selina: Shop owner. I?d have my own boutique, which would sell all the bits and bobs I love, if I could bring myself to part with any of the treasures that is!
Thank you Selina for visiting with us here on decor8 today. Readers if you have questions for Selina please ask by posting your question below. Selina will do her best to answer them for you. Yay! This was fun, thanks again for your visit Ms. Lake!
(images all from selina lake showing her styling work)
Speaking of Danielle, I was just over on her blog and saw something that I couldn’t resist sharing with you – plus I want to make sure I have it forever logged on decor8 as a resource so I can go back to it. I’m loving Ouno Design right about now! With quilts created using only vintage scarves and pillows from retro textiles, they’ve totally nailed that whole Bohemian look. I can see Christian Siriano from Project Runway using words like ferosh, fierce, and fabulous to describe these things. Or perhaps these are more in tune with Sweet P’s aesthetic? Or if Sweet P and Christian had a baby? I digress…
Ouno (pronounced “OO-no”) creates one-of-a-kind and limited edition decor accessories for the home like pillows, bedding, blankets, cushions, etc. using high quality vintage materials that have an obvious mid century Scandinavian and Japanese modern vibe. With lots of warm colors, texture and natural fibers the look is very inviting and appealing, don’t you think? And of course, you wouldn’t need to go overboard, a simple quilt without decorative pillows works for the bed and on a chair or sofa you’d only need a throw or a pillow to add some color to your space.
It’s refreshing to find products that are so stylish and colorful while also being one-of-a-kind creations. My eyes sometimes burn from same-product-in-every-store overload, you must experience this from time to time. I really get tired of it, there are so many creative minds in this world that I reason good design and fresh ideas will never die unless copycats replace innovators and in that case, more is threatened than design and that’s a whole ‘nother blog post! But my feeling is that companies like Ouno deserve some attention because creating one-of-a-kind isn’t easy in a mass-produced world.
(images from ouno design)
One of my dear friends in the Netherlands authors a fabulous blog called the Style Files, and though I’ve talked about her and her blog a million times on this site I just realized that I’ve never formally announced the opening of her online shop Le Souk. You may remember Danielle, we went to Stockholm together in October. I can’t believe how I let Le Souk slip from my radar, but not today!
Danielle’s life dream was to set up her own business so while she still has a day job, she’s hoping that Le Souk and her blog will someday give her the opportunity to work from home full-time. She’d also like to widen out and work more with clients as an Interior Stylist, and I know for a fact that she’d excel at this because her taste level is so exquisite — her rooms would be magazine worthy and gorgeous. I can’t wait to see Danielle continue to march towards her dreams, it’s so empowering to see women going for careers that they’ve often only dreamed about before. And though it’s only baby steps that get us there, Danielle has made so much progress in one short year being online as a blogger and a few months as a shop owner that I know she’s got a lot of great things in store!
Le Souk ships worldwide and offers a range of home accessories for modern living, most with an ethnic flavor to them, and she offers personal accessories too. Mixing traditional ethnic pieces with modern and handmade items, each Le Souk item is carefully sourced by Danielle so you can be sure everything is made well and looks wonderful. From rustic, wooden stools to authentic vintage silver tea trays from Morocco and even beautiful crocheted pets for the kids, Danielle’s growing shop is a real treat. Enjoy!
Would you like to read more about Ethnic design? Click here.
(images from le souk)
Contributed by: Vanessa De Vargas, decor8 West Coast Correspondent.
I was at a store opening in Venice, California and I was introduced to interior designer Kishani Perera of Fuse-id. Kishani?s look is timeless and so well executed. Within her interiors, she has an ability to place unexpected design elements that never seem totally obvious. Such a wonderful design trait. I hope that you enjoy my interview with Kishani and continue to watch her career as a designer. Enjoy. – Vanessa
Kishani: I?ve always been obsessed with design, but didn?t always realize it! When I was young, I would redesign my room over and over again, paint the walls different colors at every whim, take salvage out of the garage that I would reinvent into ?art?, and attempt to refinish/ reupholster vintage things that I picked up at the local thrift shop. This design bug followed me into my college years, where in between classes I would go from dorm to dorm, helping friends out with their ?design? needs. So after college, when I was not quite sure what career path to pursue, everyone in my life kept telling me that I should go into interior design — it seemed so obvious to everyone but me! I decided to take their advice and try out a class at the UCLA interior design and architecture program, just to see what I thought. From the very first day I was hooked! I went on to work with some great designers in the consequent years who taught me a great deal, until ultimately I started my own company 4 years ago.
Vanessa: What’s your favorite color to work with and why?
Kishani: I love all colors, so that?s a hard one! But if I had to pick, I would have to say that I enjoy working with shades of grey. I feel like grey is the new beige, a great neutral that brings balance to a room and also allows vibrant accents to really pop.
Vanessa: What color/texture/material combinations do you see using in the future?
Kishani: With the Green movement gaining such momentum in the design world, and with the concept becoming more and more mainstream, I foresee clients requesting that I incorporate more eco friendly materials and products into their projects.
Vanessa: What are your greatest sources of inspiration?
Kishani: I find inspiration all around me — anything from fashion, nature, art, fabrics, people and places, I never know what will trigger that light bulb! Some of the most interesting ideas I?ve had, have been inspired by the most seemingly mundane of things.
Kishani: Two of my favorite designers are Tony Duquette and Muriel Brandolini who are both eclectic and fearless in their designs.
Vanessa: Describe your design theory in 4-6 words.
Kishani: High-end hip meets flea market chic
Vanessa: What is your signature mark that you always try to implement in a space?
Kishani: A touch of whimsy
Vanessa: If you could redo any space, past or present, what would it be?
Kishani: Hmmm, more than one specific space, there are areas I would love to work on. I would love to be involved in the revitalization of parts of Los Angeles, such as the Historic West Adams District. This area specifically is one of the oldest neighborhoods in L.A. and home to one of the largest groups of historic buildings in the West. There are so many architecturally stunning structures that are in desperate need of TLC. All I can think about while driving through these neighborhoods is what I would do to restore these homes to their original grandeur if given the opportunity!
Vanessa:. What have you learned about having your own business that you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
Kishani: There?s so much! Mainly, I wish I had known in the beginning how much actual business (accounting, detail, paperwork, book keeping, contracts, etc.) was involved in the interior design world. I was incredibly naive, I thought it would be all about the creative process and all I would do is shop all day long! The reality of my day to day is quite far from my young imaginings!
Vanessa: What are your best practices when it comes to client relations?
Kishani: It is vital to always be honest with your clients, even if it means you have to tell then something you know they don?t want to hear. Also, you have to really listen to what they?re saying. At times as a designer you almost have to read between the lines and virtually interpret, because sometimes a client has difficulty putting their expectations into words.
Vanessa: What 5 things does a well designed home need?
Kishani: Personality, first and foremost, practicality/functionality, warmth, comfort and color.
Vanessa: If you hadn’t become a designer, what do you think you would be doing now?
Kishani: Probably one, or a combination, of the following — a decorative painter, photographer, writer or vintage furniture shop owner.
Vanessa: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Kishani: I?d like to grow my business to include offices in a few locations across the country and develop a custom furniture line which I would sell, along with fabulous vintage finds, out of a little shop somewhere.
Thank you so much Vanessa for this interview. For those who aren’t familiar with Vanessa, she drops in on Fridays to contribute a post on decor8. She’s an accomplished interior design and showroom owner based out of Los Angeles; click here to learn about her life as a designer.
(images: living room magazine photos by holly Becker for decor8, all others: grey bedroom and blue/grey living room: troy house; living room w/ wooden beams, pink/grey living room, pink stripe bathroom: jean randazzo.)