5 minutes with... Sophie Ashby

Plimsoll Building by Studio Ashby | Design Hunter
5 minutes with Sophie Ashby | Design Hunter

I'm always intrigued to quiz designers about the inspirations behind their work, but I really can't argue with the design heroes chosen by Sophie Ashby in today's '5 minutes with...' interview, which is perhaps unsurprising as Sophie is a designer I've previously featured on Design Hunter and whose work I really admire..

Having established her Notting Hill studio a year ago, just down the road from her Portobello home, she is already being recognised for her distinctive aesthetic. Drawing on her love of antiques, colour, contemporary 'world art', modernist furniture and her latest discoveries Sophie delivers an eclectic richness to the interiors she creates. Her South African heritage also comes into play, giving her projects a subtle ethnic edge.

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Which three words best describe your work?

Eclectic. Authentic. Playful.

Who or what inspires you?

I have an army of design heroes who I believe do what they do perfectly and gracefully: Joseph Dirand, Jonathan Reed, Jacques Granges, Rose Uniacke to name a few. I look to fashion quite a bit too. I think Phoebe Philo (Creative Director of Céline) is a powerhouse of creativity and originality. Swedish brand Acne Studios is in a league of its own for that archetypal flavour of newness and minimalist cool.

Without sounding too cliché, being in the presence of big, overwhelming nature inspires me. I recently went to Botswana and was in awe of the scale of everything - the size of the sky, the depth of the horizon. It makes you feel like anything is possible.

But mostly, my mother. She is always the strong voice in my head. I think feeling inspired starts with feeling confident and she has always given me the strength to have conviction in my decisions. Her catchphrase is 'you go girl'.

Plimsoll Building by Studio Ashby | Design Hunter

What is your most treasured object in your own home?

I don't have it yet. It's going to be a Pierre Jeanneret chair - one day.

Where's your favourite place to be?

Top three: at home with my boyfriend Charlie, pottering.

Second: in the African bush, on the Okovango Delta searching for elephants.

Third: goofing around with my sister Rose, hopefully dancing, probably eating.

Plimsoll Building by Studio Ashby | Design Hunter

What would you be if you weren't a designer?

I would have a shop of all my favourite things. All I have ever wanted is my own cash register.

What are you reading right now?

I just read this little essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called We Should All be Feminists which I loved. It was so honest and she has a wonderful tone of voice. Since I started my own business most of the books I have been reading are in the 'girl power' category!

Which words of wisdom to you try to live by?

I feel very lucky in everything and everyone that I have... so something along the lines of 'enjoy it all, be happy, don't sweat the small stuff and follow your dreams.

Plimsoll Building by Studio Ashby | Design Hunter

All images from one of Sophie's recently completed projects - the Plimsoll Building Apartments in Kings Cross.