At Garden Studios, one of our driving values is sustainability. Our efforts in sustainability are divided into four pillars, the first of which is Material Selection. Sustainable material selection involves using repurposed, local, recyclable, and sustainably-sourced materials throughout our buildings and furnishings. We brought in local interior designer Sara Aghataher (https://www.linkedin.com/in/saramichaladesign/) to help source and choose the furnishings for our green rooms and office spaces in our Iris campus. Read on to learn more about her inspirations in designing our studio interiors and the importance of sustainability in interior design.
Garden Studios: How did you get started in interior design?
Sara: I studied textile design at Chelsea college of art where I was a creative thinker and a designer/maker. Initially, I explored the option of fashion design but it all fell into place after landing my dream job designing hotels”.
GS: What elements define your style?
S: Comfort is my MVP across all projects. It’s the factor that resonates most with its end user - whether it’s an office or a private residential project. I love to pair antique items that bring huge character with playful patterns and deep textures.
GS: How do you find inspiration?
S: I find Instagram an incredibly useful tool for inspiration: that can be other designers, a newly-opened restaurant, fashion month (the catwalk sets are often super high production value) or photography. Instagram has opened up a whole new avenue to share work and inspiration that is unmatched. In a broader sense however, I find huge inspiration from vintage markets and long standing architecture, and most importantly the forward-thinking designers of our time. Nothing is new in design. We are always building on inspiration from the greats of the past, adapting it for our current uses. It’s incredible how much you can learn from your peers.”
GS: What was exciting for you about this project at Garden Studios?
S: For me it was about crating a small haven, a home away from home for its user. I also got exciting about the chance to experiment with colour and pattern, lifting what was a standard box room into an environment with playful enjoyment.
GS: How did you approach the brief for this design project?
S: The initial concept was firstly driven by Garden Studios’ core value of sustainability. It was important to branch away from anything mass produced and thoughtfully consider finishes and furniture. It’s a great experience to use platforms such as Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and eBay to give unloved items a whole new life. I then paired this with the theme of gardens and greenery which became the starting blocks for the design. I selected colours and details that resonated with the greenery idea and the colour scheme that runs throughout the studios”.
GS: What was most essential in nailing this project?
S: Initially we had to set out the look and feel of the project in a conceptual sense - then it was about actively sourcing items.
We didn’t have the timeline to create bespoke furniture items with local and eco friendly makers so I sourced vintage items. My first steps were to lock in the key items- sofas, armchairs etc. Since we were unable to reupholster, the item as it was would determine rug styles and the colour tones for each room. I wanted to ensure they were practical too but beyond that, my aim was to make them feel comfortable and cosy.
GS: Do you often source pre-loved and vintage items?
S: Throughout my childhood I’d always been fascinated by car boot sales and flea markets. My dad and I used to arrive at the crack of dawn to see out treasures. As my life has developed I’ve realised the importance of aiming to re-home un wanted belongings rather than adding to the ever growing mass of waste that gathers around the world.
GS: How do you integrate sustainability into your design in other ways?
S: Sustainability is a huge factor to consider in designing today as the design industry can be so wasteful. For me it’s about considering sustainability in every part of every decision we make. In addition to sustainable material selection, I try to source items that are locally made, to reduce their overall carbon footprint.
GS: Did this project go to plan? Did you achieve your desired result?
S: I wanted each room to have an identity and I feel we achieved that quite well. Something as simple as changes to the wall colour can turn a space into more than just four walls. I had great fun haggling for furniture and really love each piece that went in - they’re so individual!
GS: What are you looking forward to next?
S: I’d love to pioneer the eco-friendly/sustainable angle more and inspire clients to see the value in protecting the planet in anyway we can!”