Rule-breaker, game-changer and a woman who isn’t afraid to be in touch with her dark side, Abigail Ahern has become famous for shaking up the interior design world with her signature inky hues, faux flowers (yes, really) and super-refined eclectic style. Loved by Gwyneth Paltrow, who’s praised her for ‘her knack for artful arrangements’, Abigail Ahern is swiftly taking the world by storm, from bringing her design masterclasses to Australia, to opening stores in Shanghai.
Culture Trip (CT): Where are your go-to places in London for design inspiration?
Abigail Ahern (AA): Oddly enough, it’s not necessarily design places that inspire me. Foodie places and flower markets inspire me more than anything. Borough Market, Maltby Street and Columbia Road Flower Market, to name but a few, are great for colours and textures, to get my creative mind going. I also have some antique haunts that I love going to that get my mind going, including Atomic Antiques and Castle Gibson.
CT: What decorating advice would you give to renters looking to customise their interiors?
AA: Decorating a space that you don’t own can be hard to get your head around. Paint is always my biggest tip to transform a space. Pick a colour you love and paint your whole room, including the ceilings – be bold! I love inky colours and dark greens. Heck, I love them so much I launched my own paint range. However, if you are restricted by your landlord or landlady this may not always work. My next go-to tip is layers. The more layers you create in a space, the cooler and more customised it will become. Think about layering up a chair with a cosy sheepskin and pair it with a cushion or two to add a little personality. If you’re restricted by space, head out to find some tables so you can put out little things you love like candles, flowers and works of art. Our Finley Occasional Table is a great buy if you’re short on space and you can always stack magazines below it. For me, layers are essential to making a room my own.
CT: What are your favourite easy updates for transforming a space?
AA: Colour is my favourite update to transform a space – it’s simple and the easiest trick in the book. The hardest part is finding a colour you love. Like I said before, paint your ceiling and walls the same colour and your space will feel instantly more elegant. Lighting is also a game changer when it comes to updating a scheme. If it’s task lighting, ambient or accent, pick lights you love. I am obsessed with all three. Candles are always a great investment as they are not too expensive and provide a lovely warm glow. Or if you have a little more cash to splash, try playing around with scale. I have a huge chandelier hanging over my bath and it has completely transformed that room.
CT: Which locations around the world are you drawn to most for creative inspiration?
AA: NYC – I lived in the States for a while and loved the energy and creativity – it almost feels like going home. I’m in and out of Hong Kong constantly, as well as Shanghai and Singapore. Asia has completely re-shaped how I decorate, from being inspired by their amazing colour palettes, to the beautiful materials they work with; I feel most creative there.
CT: How would you describe your own style at home?
AA: It’s glam but it’s also laid back… it’s boho and edgy – I suppose my home has quite a kaleidoscopic look, drawing on many different references.
CT: What design-led item has changed your life?
AA: Chandeliers – they are game-changers. I try to have one in every room – it can be a bit much sometimes but I love playing around with scale!
CT: Greenery seems to be big this year; what are your tips for bringing the outside in?
AA: Yes, botanicals are big this year. We have just launched our new botanicals range for spring/summer of flowers and plants at our concession in Heal’s department store in London. Our faux flowers and plants have grown as greenery has become a must-have for your interiors. I love blurring the lines of inside and outside. If you are using lots of greens, make sure you use a variety of textures, so your eyes have plenty to look at. A great tip is to repeat a bunch of the same plants or flowers in the same vase; I do this quite often. It also makes things look far more impressive and it is super simple. We have just launched our Design Half-Day Workshop, which is jam-packed with greenery tips. We also have Flower Workshops, where you learn how to confidently combine blooms, create colour palettes and add in the unexpected foraged elements that will make your bouquets truly unique.
CT: Who are your favourite Instagrammers?
CT: Which established designers do you admire?
CT: What’s in the pipeline for AA in the coming months that we should watch out for?
AA: So many things – we are coming to Australia in June, where I am taking my Design Class on on tour. Combining forces with my sister, we are holding classes in Sydney and Melbourne. We will be sharing our decorating secrets, faux flower wisdom, and tips and tricks of the decorating trade. Oh, and a very exciting project I’m keeping under wraps for now…watch this space!