Meet The Maker: Sophie Van Winden, Owl Design

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Hi Sophie, tell us about your discipline and where you are based?

I’m an interior designer and co-owner of interior design studio Owl Design. We are based in the Silver Building – a brutalist building now full of creative companies in London’s Docklands.

What's your pelican story - what inspired you to start out in interior design?

I guess it started from childhood, I loved moving my room around and used to spend my time on holidays drawing up pencil plans of my bedroom working out where I could reposition my furniture when I got back!

Also, after my parents separated (from about 11 years old onwards) we moved a lot, always buying run down places, renovating them and then moving onto the next property. I absolutely loved it! It was so exciting seeing how you could transform a wreck to a home with some paint, new flooring and a lot of elbow grease. All through my childhood both my parents loved bright colours and bold patterns, so I am definitely not afraid of colour and they always asked my opinion, which must have given me confidence going forward.

As an interior designer, do you have any questions you ask yourself before starting a new project?

Being a client-based profession it is more about the questions I ask the client rather than myself. First and foremost I find out how the space is going to be used. A space can look as gorgeous as you want but if it doesn’t actually work for the client it is a waste of time and money. Then we talk budget. but I try not to let that restrict me too much in the design process as I don’t want to hold back ideas. – it is easier to scale back than up! 

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Which direction do you see yourself going in the future?

We have plans to design some of our products and collaborate with other companies as well. We have been so busy with projects the last couple of years the plans took a back seat but this year we definitely want to get the ball rolling!

What are the ingredients for great design and what's really exciting you at the moment in design?

I think the key ingredients are that it looks great and works well! The famous saying by William Morris is still relevant today:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful“

At the moment recycled, carbon neutral, eco-friendly products are so exciting – there are some really innovative and beautiful materials coming on the market. It doesn’t mean compromising on design anymore, but enhancing it instead!

Who inspires you creatively outside of homewares and design? 

It would have to be my parents. My mum is extremely hard working, a grafter who really carried our family through some hard times - and seemed to stay calm and unfazed the whole time (I am sure she would say it differently!). So inspirational! And my Dad, who sadly isn’t with us any more, for his entrepreneurial spirit, sense of adventure, and love of kitsch.

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If you weren't a interior designer, what would you be doing?

A hotelier. My dream is to have a boutique hotel by the sea one day.

Favourite cities, places or people for inspiration?

Barcelona (especially the Mies van der Rohe German Pavilion, I never tire of that place), the seaside anywhere, woodland walks, my friends – I have a very creative and inspirational bunch.

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What trends are you predicting will be coming through for 2019 and what will be left behind in 2018?

For 2019 I think we will be seeing more and more interesting and exciting sustainable materials; the colour coral will be huge  – Living Coral is Pantone of the year and it’s a fabulous, happy colour; the 70s will influence a lot of interior spaces as well. And I think we are going to start seeing the comeback of chrome!

I think the trend of dark rooms is starting to wane, even though it still looks great I know a lot of people who have lived with dark walls for a few years, loved it, but are now craving for light, airy spaces. Less copper and maybe even a little less brass (but definitely still some as we still love it!) 

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Are there any colours, tones, patterns or materials standing out for you right now?

Earthy tones and textures such as terracotta, rough clay plaster, cork, Marmoleum, burnt oranges, soft pinks, rich browns and mustard yellows are just so warm and inviting – I think we will be seeing a lot more of these over the coming year. Personally I seem to be a walking advert for these colours as my business partner Simone has pointed out- they have crept into my wardrobe as well!