Meet the designers: Amelia Hunter and Anna Drakes of Space A

Our Q&A with the founders of Space A design consultancy, creators of some truly beautiful home interiors...

“...Our design style begins with the practicalities of living within a space. Our spaces have got to feel like home and make their occupier feel the best version of themselves. They have got to have soul….”

Space A is a design consultancy combining interior design and architecture to create ‘human spaces that look, feel and sound like home’. We talked to founders Amelia Hunter and Anna Drakes about interiors inspiration, transformation and why lighting is a bit like music...

Islington apartment by Space A. Photo: Ben Tynegate


Tell us about your backgrounds… How did you both get started in interior design and architecture - and how did you come together to form a partnership?

Our studio was very much founded on friendship. We met whilst studying our Architecture masters together at the Royal College of Art in London. After our studies we both moved abroad – Amelia to Copenhagen, Anna to New York, where we worked with studios in the field of housing and retail design respectively. When we returned to London we used to meet frequently in the evenings and discuss our design inspirations and philosophies with wine and usually lots of French cheese!

When Amelia started working on Mary Portas’s new home, she used to chat through with Anna on the design ideas – bouncing off each other and testing possibilities. When another project came along it felt so natural to do it as a pair so we decided to formalise the studio off the back of it. That was at the end of 2018.


How do you divide the labour - do you work together on every project, or does one of you take the lead on each one? Do you each tend to have specialist areas?

We always start projects together. We’ll make a coffee and chat about the context, personal wishes and dreams of the client, design inspiration, the scope and we map out a plan. Usually the first design document is done in tandem – we do quick fire sketches and debate them together, we ping across design references, we consider the client’s brief and the building features.

After this point typically Amelia leads if the project requires more architectural input and statutory processes such as planning permission, party wall admin, building control etc. Anna leads if the project demands more design and sourcing of interior elements – furniture, soft furnishing, fittings etc. Although we always meet in the middle. One of our main philosophies is that interior and architecture design should be seen as a whole.

Victorian villa, former home of artist Astrid Zydower, redesigned by Space A. Photos: Harry Crowder


How would you describe the SpaceA interior design style? 

We are fascinated by the ritual of everyday life so our design style begins with the practicalities of living within a space. Our spaces have got to feel like home and make their occupier feel the best version of themselves. They have got to have soul, that connect personally to the person/people using them. We like to draw from contextual, historic, personal or idiosyncratic factors that make a place and building special.

We will always use nature and natural materials in our work. We always seek a sense of harmony in the proportions and balance in colour tones. We love colour – our favourite is to juxtaposition bright colours and contrasting materials – the shiny with the matt, the reflective with the dull… but this might not always be glaringly obvious. Both of us go wild for patterns – Anna particularly in textiles, Amelia in ornamentation in design.


What are your interior design inspirations?

Our interiors idol is Isle Crawford – we love her philosophy and thoughtful approach but we also enjoy the pure retro joyfulness of Mary Gilliatt. We both go weak-kneed for Italian design – Dimore studio is one of our favourites and old classics from designers such as Gae Aulenti.

Fashion is a huge inspiration for us – again the Milanese La Double J and the bold patterns of Marni.

We love to peruse and dream in the John Soane museum and delight in the Swedish Josef Frank patterns.

But we also gain inspiration in the everyday – Amelia from the seascape where she is based in Wales, Anna from the wonderfully chaotic streets of Clerkenwell.


What do you most enjoy about your work? 

The transformation process – it is really the most rewarding to see a space physically and emotionally changed and how much impact that has on the people inside it. Working on a home renovation project is a very stressful process and we love being a supportive force as we accompany our clients on that journey.

We feel lucky to work in a discipline where you can physically see, hear, smell, touch the fruits of our labour.

Bathroom by Space A. Photo: Brotherton Lock


How does lighting play a part in your interiors? 

A huge influence. Lighting is everything. Its power is to pump a space full of emotion. A well designed lighting scheme brings oodles of positive vibes – whether it be from vibrant LEDs that wash a room with positive energy for spaces like kitchens or boot rooms or the soft glow of wall lights for evening relaxation in bathrooms or living spaces.

To us, lighting is like music – it must be expertly formatted to enhance a space.


Any top interior design or lighting tips you’d like to share?

Light design should be integrated early in the design process – it is never a quick thing to resolve so make sure it is thought about in the concept process. Give options for spaces to be lit in a combination of ways – there is nothing worse than when you don’t feel in control (although equally too much control is annoying – hundreds of switches that you have to keep turning on and off to work out what is lighting what!).

Wall lights are a great way to light your space but their placement location depends very much on the design of the module you are getting so make sure you think about this early before the wiring is installed on site. Dimming is an effective tool but make sure your electrician is well versed in making it work without flickering – you need dimmable bulbs and the driver needs to be compatible so often can be a fiddle to resolve smoothly.

"...Lighting is everything. Its power is to pump a space full of emotion… To us, lighting is like music – it must be expertly formatted to enhance a space..."


Rooms by Space A. Photos: Brotherton Lock


How did the Covid lockdowns affect your work?

Like many people, we have learnt to work flexibly and mainly remote. This has been also been necessary for us as Amelia has been supervising a beach house renovation in Wales whilst also having a baby at the beginning of this year!

We have been able to carry on pretty much as usual although now when we meet we tend to have 3 day marathon sessions to review, discuss, design. The lockdowns have really made us realise how important and rewarding time together (as opposed to zoom) actually is.

[Read more about how Amelia and Anna negotiate working remotely here.

Primrose Hill villa by Space A. Photo: Harry Crowder


Which recent projects are you particularly proud of? 

Our work with Mary Portas has been the foundation stone for our studio – both in the ethos of the project and its design manifestation. Mary was always a huge inspiration for both of us and someone to look up to and learn from as a successful woman in business.

The renovation of her Grade II listed terrace in Primrose Hill, that featured in Elle Decoration in September, was a career defining project for us. It was a challenging process but one that we are immensely proud of. The house is a true reflection of her personality and what she needed in her home to feel her best with her family. That for us, is defines our success.


Finally, do you have a favourite Pooky light?

It’s pretty hard to choose just one light! We love your huge collection of wall-lights and the way each have lots of different ways to customise with shades or changing the colour.

They all have their own little personalities which can be picked to suit certain room designs, moods, colour palettes. This is perfect for the way we work with clients – we can direct our clients to your pages and give suggestions on what might work… but ultimately it’s our clients staring them in the face every day so they have to have that connection and spark to a certain design.

But if you had to twist our arms we would say the cheeky but beautiful Elbow wall lights...

Pooky's Elbow wall light fitting in antique bronze, with blue Stanlette pendant shade


See more of Space A's work on their website and follow them on Instagram via @studiospacea.