We chat to the brilliantly bold interior designer Anouska Lancaster...
“...I truly believe that you can only feel ‘at home’ when you are surrounded by items that you love and that have personal meaning to you… so follow your instincts– go for things that you are instantly drawn to and that set your heart on fire... “
Anouska Lancaster’s vibrant, colour-explosion, ‘wow factor’ designs have made a real splash in the UK interior design world in recent years.
As well as running her Berkshire-based agency Noushka Design, she is very much in demand as an interiors expert in print and on TV, and has been hailed by Vogue magazine as one of the UK's most influential interiors experts. And naturally, she loves to use a Pooky light or two.
Here’s our Q&A…
Sitting room by Anouska (including a Pooky ikat lampshade, bottom right!). Photo: Chris Fletcher
Tell us about your background … How did you get started in interior design?
I originally trained and qualified to be an artist. Drawing and painting was all that I ever wanted to do, ever since I was a child. I actually became an Interior Designer later on, after I’d had my children. My husband at the time was a nightclub owner and I started designing his bars and clubs. Nominations and prestigious awards followed, and my business gradually built from there. I won the award for ‘Best London Club’ in 2007 at the London Club and Bar Awards, and that award really put me on the map.
I find there are huge similarities between being an artist and an interior designer – for me it’s about layering colour and textures, as you would do as an artist, to create a finished ‘masterpiece’. Interior Design was a very natural progression for me. It went hand in hand with my lifestyle at the time and allowed me to reignite my passion for art and design after having children.
How would you describe your interior design style or ethos?
I’d say my design style is unique to me. If I had to describe it; I would say that it’s creating a brave and bold room that is a visionary feast for eyes and which reflects the individual’s unique style and personality. My goal is always to design a space that is exciting, enticing, and that has huge impact, full of colour and pattern. I always remember Kit Kemp saying that a good interior is a memorable one – that’s why I always take risks and ‘go for it’ with my designs.
I set up Noushka Design as I felt that there was a gap in the market for a forward-thinking design company, which tailor made design schemes for the individual. I was bored of seeing non-descript grey and beige interiors; that all looked the same. I truly believe that you can only feel ‘at home’ when you are surrounded by items that you love and that have personal meaning to you. There are no rules in Interior Design, so follow your instincts when designing your home – go for things that you are instantly drawn to and that set your heart on fire.
My vision was to create a bespoke design company which created interiors that reflected the various passions, styles, journeys and personalities of its clients. My designs are colourful, bold, and brave; and always tell a story. It is important to me that each and every interior is as different as the person that I am designing it for. Noushka Design is a celebration of colour, pattern, individuality and personal style.
Anouska's stunning creative touches, from statement mirrors to suspended umbrellas. Photos: Nick Huggins
What inspires you when it comes to interiors?
My biggest influence is Art when it comes to my designs. It could be an antique painting full of character, or a vivid modern print, but either way, a piece of art will be the seed for a design scheme to grow. I think art is something that it’s my blood and it’s at the heart of all my design schemes. Art not only gives an immediate colour palette, but will also depict the mood of the room. In a similar way, I will also use wallpaper as the foundation of a room scheme, pulling the different layers apart, and using the shapes and colours for the metamorphosis of the room.
You regularly appear on our TV screens, sharing your interior design expertise. What do you enjoy about doing TV work?
I love the diversity of what I do. One day I’ll be designing someone’s home and the next day I’ll be filming a TV show or doing live TV on QVC. TV is a great outlet for giving people tips and ideas on how to style their homes, as you can physically create sets on screen and pull ideas together for people to see. I think people often have preconceived ideas about Interior designers – that they are only for the rich or famous, but being able to ‘chat’ on TV as I would do to my friends, makes people comfortable, and gives people the confidence to try things out at home for themselves.
I love to share my knowledge and tips, especially when people contact me on Instagram who have listened and loved what they’ve created themselves.
More of Anouska's gloriously maximalist, eye-popping designs.
Photos: Nick Huggins
How does lighting play a part in your interiors?
Lighting plays a huge part in all my designs. I always tell my clients and the viewers on QVC that it isn’t just about the way your interior looks, its about the way it makes you feel. Of course, you want statement lighting that has ‘wow factor’ but more importantly, you want to create an ambience or a mood, and that is created by the lighting in the room.
Any top lighting tips you’d like to share?
Use table lights to create ambient lighting, for rooms that are not for practical use, such as TV rooms and areas where you want to relax and unwind.
Try and get an even distribution of light around the room using ceiling lights, table lights and/or wall lights.
Always use dimmer switches if possible.
And if you are building a home or doing a renovation, try to look ahead and think about where you want your lamps to be. That way you can put sockets in the right places to avoid wires showing or ugly extension leads.
Are there any recent projects you’re particularly proud of?
I am currently working on the biggest renovation of my career – our forever home in Cornwall. It is a period property, built in 1836 and we are restoring it to its former glory, replacing the original features and lovingly bringing it back to life; so that it can live on through future generations, as it has done for nearly 200 years. The renovation is celebration of the house’s heritage and history, using traditional lighting and wallpapers, but giving it a ‘Noushka Design’ twist by adding lots of colour and pattern.
You can follow it on Instagram: @penally_house_cornwall
What do you most enjoy about running an interior design agency?
I love everything about what I do, but most importantly, I love the people. I have the privilege of working with some incredible people, who share my passion for design, and enable me to bring my designs to life – my upholsterer, my curtain maker, the antique and art dealers who I work with. I couldn’t do what I do without them, and the incredible suppliers that I use such as Pooky.
I also love the clients that I work with – all of which become friends and important people in my life. It is a very personal thing to work with someone on their home. I think it takes great trust to open your door to a stranger and to allow them into all aspects of your life – spending time in your home and with your family. I never take that for granted. More often than not, people rediscover who they are and what they want from life during the process – it can often be a sort of therapy - it’s a very beautiful thing.
Kitchen and sitting room by Anouska (including Pooky lampshades in buttercup velvet) Photos: Chris Fletcher
Finally, do you have a favourite Pooky light (and if so, why that one?)
It is very difficult for me to choose only one favourite light from Pooky, as I love them all (not to mention the mirrors which I am totally addicted to!)
I have just bought the large Halo chandelier light for Penally House and I absolutely LOVE it. It has such grandeur for a period property, particularly for Penally House as the ceiling roses are so huge and ornate, I needed a light that wouldn’t be overshadowed by the mouldings. The colourful shades add a modern twist, which is completely my style – mixing old and new. It also means that the shades can be changed at the later date if the décor changes or if you want to mix things up.
Photo top: Cici Photography. Feature photo of Anouska at garden table: Chris Flectcher.