15 minutes with… Sara


15 minutes with… Sara

Most of you will know this face! Sara has been with us for many years and worked on every project that has come through our doors. Let’s find out more about Sara.

So here is our 15 minutes with…
Sara James

What key creative influences inspire you?
I love pattern and composition, often asymmetry rather than symmetry. I doodle and draw mandalas and patterns all the time, sometimes in reading books that have special meaning.

Image credit: Mandala Meadow

In terms of designers my influences are mixed and I love a juxtaposition. William Morris designs and patterns bring me happiness but equally so Bauhaus, Lazaro Rosa-Violan and Banksy all bring calm to my mind.

Image credit: V&A

What one quote or piece of advice will you never forget?
A client once said to me: “If you don’t understand something, continue to ask until you do”. This enabled me to get over the self-confidence demons and actually learn.

Can you describe your at home style?
Very like my creative influences, I would describe my home as Contemporary Arts & Crafts. However with three teenage boys and a dog, the home style resembles chaos more often than not.

What can you remember of the interior decor of your home as a child?
I grew up in the 70s and 80s so my early home was very Orange and Yellow, and interestingly I used to have nightmares about my family catching fire. The second family home was very solid in colour but lots of large furniture in the 80s and 90s and no more nightmares about fire!

What pieces can’t you live without at home and why?
The furniture that I need in my home are Lamps and footstools. However framed photographs would be the most important element to me.

What has been your career highlight so far?
Too many great clients and jobs to summarise, but I particularly enjoy working on ship refits. I like the decision making, project management and dealing with people from varied backgrounds and skill sets, from whom I learn something every time. If I was to pick a couple of highlights, it would be the day I met Joanna and she was willing to take a chance on me, and also the times that I have seen hotels open up to guests and ships sail off having completed the refit.

What, in your view, is the secret to good interior design?
I believe good design stems from someone actually being able to use the item or the space. I feel very strongly about form and function. Design needs to be able to be manufactured in reality not just in an imagination. I am passionate about sustainability and the damage the human race is doing to the planet. Longevity of design is therefore equally important to me, in terms of style and of usability.

Who inspires you within your industry?
There are too many people to mention, but in this current Pandemic climate, I would say that everyone who is trying to work their way through the unprecedented and unknown path to get the industry back working at full capacity, again.

What was the first interior space to impact you?
I have two very clear memories of interior (and the architecture of) spaces that had a massive impact on me. The first was the Pompidou Centre in Paris. I loved the open free space internally with all of the functioning structure and pipework on the outside of the building, allowing for free-flowing movement inside. The second was the Tate Modern. The vast open space as you enter on a slope overwhelmed me, the purity of design inside and out was breath-taking.

Image credit: fpompidou.org

If you could go on a spending spree tomorrow what are the first three things you would buy for your home?
For the last 6 years we have needed a dining table and dining chairs. We love to entertain and we keep having to pull together makeshift elements to allow this to happen. I would also love some garden furniture so we can enjoy it for the few months a year that the weather allows us.

What one thing do you wish you had never purchased?
Actually, nothing. I am a stickler for ‘one in, one out’ as I cannot bear clutter. Even items that are out of favour or I am bored of, were important at the time and have a story.

Tell us about a hotel that has wowed you, why did you love it so much?
There are two in particular that blew me away. The first is The Mondrian at Sea Containers House on the South bank in London and the second is Orfelias Hotel in Barcelona. The style at Orfelias was so eclectic which I love but was lush and considered too. I felt the same about the public areas in The Mondrian. The bedrooms were functional and more simplified but provided everything that was required.

Photo credit: Niall Clutton 

What do you think the next design trend will be?
At this time, in a global pandemic, I think design will be dictated to by hygiene rules and regulations, and more simplified that in recent years. I believe there will still be plenty of flair and sophistication, however, the hygienic angle and a drive for sustainable accreditation will be strongly positioned behind design styles and trends.

What has helped you through the covid-19 lockdown?
I have practised Yoga for a while now, but being able to maintain this with online studio classes has been invaluable. I have actually managed to practise it more often that before the lockdown and can now do so whilst chaos runs around me. Everyday I have been grateful for our garden and the weather. We are safe and lockdown has been so much easier for us than many.

What do you like to do for yourself outside of work and family?
I used to run a lot more and have completed the London Marathon, but these days it is harder to find time to fit in the training. My yoga and dog walking is now so important to me. I love seeing friends socially and have missed this during lockdown so much.

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