Meet the interior designers: Sarah Astman and Simon Taylor

We chat interiors with the very talented Simon and Sarah of design studio Astman Taylor...

Experienced surveyor Simon Taylor and environmental consultant Sarah Astman met whilst studying interior design and went on to launch the Astman Taylor design studio. They specialise in creating enduring and joyful interiors for clients, as well as curating a collection of homewares for sale, and designing and supplying handmade bespoke kitchens and joinery from their workshop in the south of England.

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?

We've both always been passionately creative and drawn to art, architecture, craftsmanship and beautiful things. Simon started his career in the property industry as a surveyor, town planner and property developer and Sarah ran a successful environmental consultancy for 15 years. We are both creatives at heart though, so we set out to retrain as interior designers. We met whilst studying at the Inchbald School of Design, one of the most renowned colleges in the industry, where our shared passion for art, design and culture (as well as long lunches!) led us to team up and launch our design studio, Astman Taylor. We think our combined experience brings a unique approach to interior design projects, blending a crafted design-led aesthetic with practical knowledge of the planning system and listed buildings, commercial awareness and environmental responsibility.

Reading library and home office for Georgian house in Hampshire – by Astman Taylor. Image credit.

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?

Working in a partnership is so rewarding as we both bring something different to each project we undertake. Simon has a great eye for textiles, especially pattern and colour. Sarah loves art, travel, and design history. Underpinning all of our design work is our thorough understanding of buildings and sustainability gained from our past careers. Ultimately, Sarah is passionate about sustainability and bringing environmental responsibility to the forefront of interior design, whilst Simon loves perfecting a floor plan and making sure the bones of a space work, and can of course take care of all those tricky planning and listed building questions.

Kitchen for Cotswold Cottage near Cirencester – by Astman Taylor. Image credit.

How would you describe the Astman Taylor interior design style?

Each interior design project is a journey with our clients. We build on their unique personality and style, and inject our own experience and creativity as well as those moments of joy and playfulness that really characterise our work. We don’t believe in having a set ‘house style’ because we know that no two clients have the same lives, tastes or dreams, just as no two interiors have the same light, proportions, or history. What we aim to achieve in every project is an enduring design that 'sparks joy' in our clients, and that evolves with them so that it can be enjoyed for many years to come.

Barn Conversion in the South Downs National Park – by Astman Taylor. Image credit.

What are your interior design inspirations?

We both grew up in the country, Sarah in the Cotswolds, and Simon on a farm in the South Downs, so we are inspired by the natural world, honest materials and craftsmanship. Inspiration can come from all sorts of unlikely places as we embark on the design journey with our clients. Travel, art, history and antiques are a huge inspiration and really help us achieve that layering of colour, pattern, texture and history that make our designs feel timeless and enduring, as well as playful and joyful.

Arts & Crafts Cottage, West Sussex – by Astman Taylor. Image credit.

Remodelled kitchen plus display of client’s inspirational ceramics collection – by Astman Taylor. Image credit.

What do you most enjoy about your work?

We love sourcing antiques for clients, and commissioning beautiful bespoke pieces from our network of skilled craftspeople. We especially love the creative process, the design challenges and the unique research that goes into every project. We love to explore new ideas and regularly find ourselves asking ‘has this been done before? If not, why not?’ There is no doubt that the best part of our work is seeing a client’s reaction to our designs as we bring their dream to life.

Master bedroom with curved partition en-suite for Cotswold Cottage near Cirencester – by Astman Taylor. Image credit.

How does lighting play a part in your interiors?

Lighting is key to all our designs. Great lighting can really enhance a design, whilst bad lighting can ruin it. In any interior it’s important to strike the right balance between light and dark and pay attention to the areas of darkness as well as light. The space where light meets dark is an area of beauty, a place for interesting shadows as well as magical highlights. Low lit areas of a room allow your eyes, mind and imagination to relax, allowing you to think and dream.

Reading library with secret jib door drinks cabinet – by Astman Taylor. Image credit.

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

For the novice, designing an interior can seem like a daunting prospect. Choose one thing you love, a colour, a scrap of fabric, a family heirloom, and build your scheme around that – have confidence in your ideas! When it comes to lighting, we like to use lamps as much as possible. They give a soft ambient glow which makes everyone look good, and the bonus is that you can transform the style of your space by changing up your lampshades every so often.

Arts & Crafts Cottage, West Sussex – by Astman Taylor. Image credit.

Which recent projects are you particularly proud of?

We are currently transforming a beautiful Victorian seaside property in Kent. The scheme is inspired by the client’s passion for the talented fashion photographer Tim Walker, a wonderful Vogue magazine collection spanning back to the 1950s, and the property’s historic seaside location. Overall, it’s going to have a very fresh and homely feel, full of colour, pattern and texture, with a touch of wonderland about it.

Radhika Nair, Pershore, Worcestershire– by Tim Walker. Image credit.

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

This is a difficult question, as there are so many beautiful Pooky designs! It has to be one of your classic colourful resin lamps though – the Aurora in blush pink – for a splash of colour and light.

Aurora Table Lamp in blush pink
Pooky's Aurora lamp in blush pink
To see more beautifully crafted Astman Taylor designs visit their website and follow them on Instagram . Their homeware range is launching online in Spring 2021, and their bespoke kitchens are available now.