Chatting with bohemian loving Anna Hayman who describes herself as enduringly obsessed with pattern, crafts, and design. We have a chat about her brand and some of the notable surface pattern prints that she uses on fabrics, wallpapers and lampshades featured all over the interiors world.
When did you realise your passion for interior design?
This makes me think of when I was a little girl, my friend Sarah used to get infuriated with me, as instead of playing with our dolls I would spend all the time setting up the interiors scenes! I was insistent to get the right layout, decor and mood, that the actual playing was always secondary haha. But in adulthood, I suppose my passion for interior design, and the belief and realisation of my own projects, has been evolving over the last four years. Through gaining experience, insight and shaping (and reshaping) my own home, I’ve learned the necessary skills to take it from a dream to a reality. Now I’m on the brink of completing my first two residential projects, I am excited to install and ‘bank’ these into my portfolio.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
What has your journey into the world of interiors been like?
Because of instagram, it has been extremely welcoming. I’ve really been guided by the customer, and have navigated building a brand aided by this rich and rewarding tool. Working with River Island curating a bar area for their flagship store was an emboldening experience, edging my confidence up to curate and design whole spaces rather than purely products. And now through working with Greg Penn, @manwithahammer I have gained experience in working with residential clients, and period properties. Now I’m emerging more as an interior designer, the journey gets even more exciting as new opportunities are arising, even in lockdown!
Biggest challenges and successes in creating your brand so far?
I never know what to say re biggest challenges, when I get asked this, which I guess means it’s been a pretty easy ride. The thing is, this isn’t a job for me. I would do what I’m doing whether it made money or not, whether people liked it or not, so that fact that my designs ‘chime’ with lots of people is brilliant, but not necessary to me doing it. I’m an artist, I guess, and feel good that I’ve managed to create a recognised business from my love of pattern and texture. I’d never say I’m lucky, I’ve worked hard and thought hard, and I know I deserve my success. My proudest moment I think was when my design was picked out of over 1500 to grace the cover of Thames and Hudson book ‘Pattern Design’ as many of my heroes are encompassed. It also feels good that Liberty, Harrods and Bergdorf Goodman all came to me for my products, that really means it’s working!
Who is the quintessential Anna Hayman Designs customer?
I truly love my customers, they echo my feelings about the world in a way that is expressed through their homes. This dance between us is what I cherish and celebrate. They are knowledgable, primarily I guess. They are brave, and want their homes to be the ultimate expression of who they are. I recently gained a client who had been looking for the right printed cushions for four years, and both her and her husband fell in love with my designs, and have used my cushions in every room. This discerning customer is my favourite, almost the opposite of an impulse buyer haha. It’s ok to think hard about your home, especially now we are spending soooo much time in them.
What are your best sellers?
Bibana ,Siouxsie and Pearl are our bestselling designs. I think Bibana for her arts and crafts historical feel, Siouxsie for her pretty detail and rock n roll soul, and Pearl for that jazz age decadent vibe.
That “Aha!” moment when you were recognized and knew you created something special?
When I exhibited at Top Drawer in January 2016, I took the first parachute lampshade samples which caught the eye of Rockett St. George. When we photographed these on a dark background, and they were picked up by instagrammers such a Nicola Broughton
@the_girl_with_the_green_sofa the business slipped into the dark interiors scene, burgeoned by Abigail Ahern, I then realised really who my market were, and what I needed to make more of. It became a bit of a whirlwind after that, and I’m only just catching up now and really starting to strategise and plan ranges properly. My sister now works alongside me, and is planning to head up retail operations, leaving me free to explore more interior design and product design. This is an exciting plan for the coming year as I really then get to focus on the parts I’m most passionate about.
One design trend you are loving and one that you are glad is over?
I am absolutely loving a self skirted chair right now, and giant loungers. Anywhere you can sink down and dream/read. An item I’d like to see the back of is bar carts, too kitsch for me sorry!
When did you realise your passion for interior design?
I studied fine arts and printmaking and initially I used to make abstract art for office spaces. Then did a degree in Interior design and worked with Nobilis (the high-end fabric and wall coverings company) as a sales rep in the North of the UK. I would see Interior designers working and thought I would love to get creative but I never really wanted to work as an interior designer for others. I guess it was when I started using Instagram that it really started expressing my creativity. I love doing styling work and working on building more of a lifestyle brand including outdoor living and food.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I would describe it as eclectic and maximalist with a homely vibe. Everything inside my home has a personal sentiment. I'm not afraid to use colour boldly and to mix styles. No-one would be able to re-create my home space exactly the same as it is so personal to me.
Have you ever heard or given any advice that you think is golden?
Give your space a soul. Make sure there is something within the space that really sings. Even if you are a fan of minimalist interiors, it could be something as simple as a massive fireplace with a gorgeous armchair and one sprig of eucalyptus. The space just has personality and reflects the people within it. Try not to copy other spaces that you see online or in magazines piece for piece, but try and adapt it to your own space and make it unique to you.
What do you find the most inspiring?
I am not impressed by expensive interiors. I think if we all had the money we could all go and spend 15K on a sofa. But what really impresses me is people who are innovative with their interiors and come up with solutions to their design dilemmas that really push the boat out. Someone making a beautiful piece of furniture with some scrap wood or upcycled furniture - that really inspires me.
My ideal space has to have these three things:
I would say a massive fireplace cos I love fire! It's so cosy and warm regardless of the time of year. I love lamps - again these really help create that atmosphere when the sunlight fades. Finally, plants, they just give life to a space. Overall obviously light is the most important element in a space.
What is your pet peeve inside your home?
What is your favourite space in your home?
I love our pergola! It's such a great outside space that we use all the time from Spring till Early Autumn. I wish we could glaze it and use it more throughout the year. But currently, we're loving having all our meals out there and I'm making my kids sit outside in their coats cos I just love using that space.
One design trend that you love and one that you hate.
I love anything boho and eclectic with a layered look. I don't really hate any specific trends, I don't think I'm a fan of French faux rustic look that is a bit too perfect, it just can seem a bit try-hard.
How do you think social media has changed the way people interact with or delve into interiors?
I think platforms such as Instagram has been great at providing people with an outlet for something they are interested in such as interiors and also, its lovely receiving feedback from people, other than my family, saying how much they loved a revamped space I worked on. But it can be quite noisy, sometimes all you see are massive accounts which don't necessarily have what you are looking for, and miss some incredible small accounts who are really inspiring. The other thing that can frustrate is seeing people playing the game and it seems very strategized. But I guess it's about finding people that really inspire you and trying to give them as much support as possible.
Tell me a little bit about your journey into Pooky lighting
It has a been a relatively tortuous journey but incredibly fun! I initially qualified as a lawyer, but soon realised it wasn’t the thing for me. So, I jumped ship and went into catering for the best part of 20 years operating a variety of different businesses from restaurants, soup wholesale, commercial catering and eventually to high end food delivery services. That was amazingly fun and challenging. My business partner and I then decided to go into sofas and focus mainly online. At the time it was pretty revolutionary and despite lots of discouragement we slowly built the business of sofa.com up over 7-8 years. I started to live and breathe the shapes, fabrics, colours and spring systems. After selling up I decided to go into lighting, because lights are the number 1 thing that one should think about in their house. They make such a profound impact to the interior and the mood of any space. Equally I love the fact that you can turn anything into a light, you can be as creative or as wacko as you like and have a lot of fun with lighting.
It is clear how passionate you are about the importance of beauty and form and despite not specifically having come from a design background you have a definite understanding and appreciation of it, be it in sofa design or lighting. Did you self-teach along your journey?
How would you describe the Pooky aesthetic?
Who would you say is your quintessential customer?
What have been your biggest challenges with setting up Pooky lighting?
Our biggest challenge was getting brand recognition and awareness as well as taking a big financial risk. Because we wanted to sell pieces at an affordable price, we had to invest and buy lights in bulk. So, I had a warehouse full of thousands of lights, of which we didnt know would sell. I was there holding my breath, looking at my website, hoping that someone would come on and buy. Design is a risky business - you have as many flops as hits, you get better over time obviously, but no one has any certainty.
What are your best sellers and which styles are less popular?
(Chuckling slightly) Well now, the Metro light - is a beautiful slightly industrial, solid brass light in various finishes with a very strong design, but surprisingly not many people buy it! On the other hand, our best seller is the light called Trafalgar - it has a very simple design, a solid brass obelisk. It is very elegant but contemporary. It came from an offcut of brass on the floor that I saw in a foundry in Portugal which we put a very flat base on and kept it very minimal in design. Another light that is doing very well is the Stucco, we spent a long time agonizing over how big those petals would be, the shape of the light, how far apart the rows of petals should be.
When did you have that big "AHA!" moment when you realized that you were creating something special?
I don't like to be complacent about what we do, because the moment you start thinking that you have cracked it that is when the edifice starts to collapse, but it is great to read the feedback on our site. We have recently hit 10k reviews and virtually all of them are 5star reviews. Some of them are really quite moving as some people are really grateful of what we do.
What are one of the interior trends that you are loving right now and one that you are glad is over?
What is the next thing that you are working on?
We are launching our outdoor lighting which is exciting. People tend to be less brave with outdoor lighting as they see them as functional lights. We are trying to create a range of swan necks and lanterns that add that extra decorative edge to outdoor spaces.
The glorious weather recently has really inspired us to spend more time outside and really appreciate our outdoor spaces. So we thought it would be a great time to show you what has grabbed our attention with this seasons outdoor furniture and get ready for summer early! Have a look at a selection of our favourite pieces and click to shop!
Kicking things off with this stunning concrete table which seats 5-6 people so you can have a feast outdoors in style and not have to worry about not lasting the season.
Pair that table with these stunning Acacia chairs and you are onto a winner! These are great for indoor and outdoor use you can bring them into your breakfast area when the season is over and keep the summer vibes going throught the year!
I love an outdoor rug. Firstly it really brings the indoors-out! Thereby making that seating area or space more homely. It also helps with zoning larger outdoor spaces if they all have the same flooring. For example if you had a large deck or a paved area, and part of it was dining and the rest lounging, you can put the rug under one of those zones to really make it its own space within the paved area!
I love a fluted zinc planter and these ones have a lovely shape which makes them superb for both contemporary and classic spaces. Plant them up with verdants and aromatics near your seating to really create a show stopping space.
Get the fire side seating just right. You want a chair that you can snuggle into get cosy. How about this gorgeous chair with modern vibes that is great for sitting fireside with a glass of merlot!
Speaking of fireside, you will need a fire pit! I love fire! I love the smell of well seasoned wood and I love the flames. Get a fire pit, drink some wine and get cosy! This geometric shaped fire pit has all the statement of a sculpture with the joy of being able to take all that heat. Put some logs in it and light it up!
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I must admit, I absolutely love a good garden. The variation spaces that can be created and plants that can be used open up a whole new exciting world and with us stepping slowly from spring into summer it's a great time to get out there and use up your outside space as much as you can. Here are my tips to keep in mind when tackling your outside space, be it a balcony, a courtyard or a whole garden.
Follow the sun
Keep an eye out for which parts of the garden get the most direct light and which are more shaded. It will help guide which plants you place there and what you use the spaces for. If you can head out into your space multiple times of day through the year and notice the light levels change. Some places will never get direct light where as others might be constantly sunny! Check out this blog on how to sun map your garden
Layering matters both in a front to back, but also in a low to high dimension. Think about having plants with different heights growing from front to back in your garden. Also planting a whole area in one plant can make it visually uninteresting so consider making your borders or hedges more varied with different textures, colours and variations. Also consider plants that s stars at different times of the year such as berry bushes in the autumn, hellebores for an early spring flower and acers for the summer foliage
As with your home, different parts of your outside space can be used for various uses. Think about where to have your outside dining area (does it need to be in a sunny spot to keep you warm?) Consider adding other seating areas that encourage people through the garden and create different view points. Do you need a kids play-area? Do you have space for an outdoor kitchen or an outdoor lounge space? Do you want a veg patch?
Entice the senses
Encourage full immersion in the space with all the senses being activated. Scented lavender, tactile grasses or mosses, the sound of water over rocks or of wind through reeds, the taste of fruit straight off the branches, and the gentle sway of a swing. Using perspectives to create different viewpoints from the various areas in the garden will make it seem bigger and more interesting.
Think of where you will need your utilities (they need to be passed first). If you wanted a pond at the end of the garden, you might need a pump and therefore electricity and maybe even a water source - you don't want to be passing these after you have finally managed to get the lawn looking just right! Accent lighting of any specific trees or in other areas of the garden all need to be planned and specified so that the utilities can be passed to that area. If you wanted a barbeque at the end of the garden, consider how you are going to get coal to it and have it stored safely (might need to plan for built storage). Also, if you wanted to wash your hands, will you need a sink out there too? All things to think about and consider before you get started.
Outside spaces fill me with excitement as they really come to life in the warmer months but also they increase your private living space. They create a place where you can intimately interact with nature and make the most of the good weather.