Meet the designer: Tash South

Our exclusive Q&A with London-based designer and interiors specialist Tash South...

Tash South runs South Place Studio, a London-based design and renovation consultancy with a stunning portfolio of fabulously light-filled, spacious-feeling properties. We spoke to Tash about her work and influences, including her Cape Town upbringing and the many, many lessons from her own epic self-build project...

How did you get started in interior design?

I studied advertising and graphic design in Cape Town, and worked in various design roles, both over there and here in London, for about 16 years before making the change over into interiors. It all started with my own projects, my partner and I had completed a few major renovations over the years, which I loved, so I left my current job and dedicated time to taking some interiors courses and start building my blog and business.

Images above: Angel Art Deco project. Credit Tash South

How would you describe your interior design style?

I’d describe it as modern with particular focus on simplicity, comfort and tactility, which I like to achieve through use of texture and carefully chosen materials. But I also work with clients who definitely have their own ideas on the style that they love. My job then is to introduce modern elements in a way that improves the way that they live, by making the best use of the space available, improving flow, and introducing ideas and materials that bring ease to their busy lives. I don’t like my designs to feel too staged – I love it when people feel comfortable and at ease in a space, and where family life can happen without having to worry about anything getting ruined.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Is your Cape Town upbringing an influence?

Having lived in Cape Town for half my life, I’m inspired by the light, space and openness of the houses there. There is simply more space available per person than there is here in London, so lateral living is more common, and amazing views are easy to come by, so large windows are a must! I try to bring maximum natural light into all my major renovation projects, it makes such a difference to our well-being. Well-designed South African homes, hotels and restaurants exude a kind of easy, relaxed luxury that I just love.

Images above: Tash South's self-build project. Photo: Michele Beatty

You’ve undertaken a huge project, self-building your own home. Can you tell us a bit about that - and what you learned from it?

It was an absolute rollercoaster of a process – from searching for a plot, endless legal documents, planning applications, architects to party wall agreements. The house is a modern, compact three-storey townhouse, with the entire ground floor as an open-concept living/kitchen/dining space. The whole process took 5 years from finding the plot to moving in, in hindsight, if we’d known it would have taken that long, we probably wouldn’t have done it! But it’s taught me so much. I now know how to put an entire house together from the ground up, which is invaluable in my work.

Above: Tash South's self-build project. Photo: Tash South

How does lighting play a part in your interiors?

I speak to a lot of people who have finished renovations and who regret not planning their lighting better – and earlier. I would suggest that you start thinking about lighting at the very start of your project, ideally at the stage your designer or architect has started drawing up the plans. Lighting is one of the most important parts of a project, it is the element that best creates the feel and atmosphere of a space.

Images above: Surry project. Photo: Tash South

What do you most enjoy about your work?

I find the process so satisfying, from initial sketches through to finished product – and all the challenges and bumps along the way! The best part is handing over a finished home to a happy client, and it not only looks good, but also functions well and improves the way they live every day. I also absolutely love styling and photographing the finished projects.

Do you have a particular favourite corner or room that you feel is 'all your own'?

My favourite cosy corner in my home is this corner in my snug living room, I’ve carried the very dark colour on the walls up onto the ceiling, which makes the room feel intimate and relaxing. I’ve kept the lighting gentle and soft in here, as it’s mainly an evening space. I love that there is both a small courtyard, and a large skylight in this area, so wherever you sit you can look up and see the sky.

Tash's cosy corner. Photo: Tash South

Finally, do you have a favourite Pooky light (and if so, why that one?)

I love the clean lines of the Mo floor lamp in brass with the black hood. It would work well I lots of the spaces I design.

Mo floor lamp

See more of Tash's work and read her excellent interiors blog on the South Place Studio website and follow her on Instagram.