We chat to top UK interior designer and founder of The Style Counsel, Ali Attenborough…
“...I believe that a well designed home should make you feel loved and nourished, it shapes our existence and offers an opportunity to promote happiness and growth...”
Ali Attenborough is a fabulously talented designer and editorial stylist, working with some of the UK’s top interiors magazines and brands. She’s one of our absolute favourites – in fact, she’s done photoshoots aplenty for Pooky – so we thought it was about time we sat down with Ali for a chat about how she works, what inspires her, and her new online interior design agency The Style Counsel…
Photo: Mike Bradford phtgrphc.com
Tell us about your background … How did you get started in interior design?
In a family home of 11 people, as a child I escaped into my own world by building lego homes and furnishing the rooms with plasticine seating, tables and lighting – having that autonomy to model each space as I could dream it was captivating. In real life, I felt a sense of creativity and satisfaction from changing and moving a room around, like my bedroom. I guess this was the main influence in my career choice, and I absolutely love it.
Creativity felt so intrinsic, and influenced my choice to study Art, Design, History of Art and Surface Pattern Textiles at university. After a whirlwind of work experience at The World Of Interiors and Good Homes magazines, I was offered an assistant role at Ideal Home magazine, where I went on to become the Deputy Style Editor.
Now I enjoy the varied role of freelance to style decorating features and covers for interior magazines such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes & Antiques magazine, and brands like John Lewis, Sofology, Benjamin Moore paints and, of course, Pooky!
One of Ali's shoots for Pooky's Pentabulous chandelier. Photographer: Max Attenborough
What inspires you when it comes to interiors?
My fields of influence include the sciences, music, culture, technology, psychology, architecture, and the natural world. Art and Art History feeds into much of what I do, there is so much resource to reference with composition, concepts and colours.
I look to influential European brands such as Studio Pepe and Dimore Milano. I like international designers such as Kelly Wearstler for her confident style and India Mahdavi for her unique design identity. UK designers such as 2LG and Studio Duggan are great to follow, and I also keep abreast of high street and boutique brands and interior magazines.
How would you describe your interior design style or ethos?
I like to tread my own path with bold designs, natural flair and considered styling that tells intelligent interior stories for magazines or brands.
Two of Ali's sets for Homes & Antiques magazine. Photographer Katya De Grunwald
What do you most enjoy about your work?
When styling editorial and brand photography, I like the autonomy that comes with most briefs and creating a story. It’s always a collaborative effort but I get to stretch my creativity and the clients expectations. The pace of this industry has a fast turnaround, which I like because I can get through ideas and move onto another exciting concept.
The forward thinking shoot crew are always a total joy to have around because they can resolve an issue before it becomes a problem, and they’re fun creative people that become friends too. Seeing a client happy with results is rewarding too.
I discovered that I also enjoy sharing my editorial skills and experience with private clients who can measure and purchase themselves but need help pulling their dream decorating scheme together with the same interesting brands and ideas that I would use in a magazine shoot.
So I launched an online interior design service called The Style Counsel that provides curated plans per room in three easy steps. I believe that a well designed home should make you feel loved and nourished, it shapes our existence and offers an opportunity to promote happiness and growth.
Design by The Style Counsel. Photographer Max Attenborough
How does lighting play a part in your interiors?
Lighting is one of the first elements to consider when beginning a room if you want to get the best out of the space and give it real purpose. It plays such a key role in the mood of a space and can enhance certain moments in a room such as working or relaxing.
In projects for The Style Counsel I like to include all groups of lighting. One project played with iridescent lighting and also daylight entering the room through dichroic film, a material I saw in an art exhibition and had been excited to use. Placed on the lower section of the windows it created a gently magical wash of colour.
Any top lighting tips you’d like to share?
The exciting thing about using lighting is that it’s an opportunity to bring both practical and aesthetic elements to a space. I like to combine integrated lighting with feature ceiling lights.
Wall lights are also an undervalued opportunity because they free up table top and floor space.
If using bare bulb pendants, I like to either lower the wattage or hang them above your eyeline so they dont glare in your eyes.
Finally, do you have a favourite Pooky light?
I love the traditional style Sycamore lighting [above] that I recently styled for Pooky, that’s modernised in a black finish.
I also like the Cyrus wall light, it seems to have a classic feel but also a sci-fi look too!
Find more marvelous designers and interiors inspiration on the Pooky blog.
Photo top: Ali's set for Sofology. Photo: Max Attenborough