The legendary British interior designer Abigail Ahern was blown away by the reception she received while in Australia recently, describing it as “the best thing I’ve done to date”.
Her masterclasses at Megan Morton’s The School were a sellout. “We sold 90% of the seats within the first few days of putting them on the site,” says Abigail. “I was so overwhelmed, flattered and delighted by the response. The Australian people are so warm and friendly. I was blown away by how many fans we have in Australia. I had an absolute blast and cannot wait to get back over to do more.”
We don’t have to wait long for our next Abigail fix either, as she has just been confirmed as a speaker at February’s Decoration + Design trade fair in Sydney.
Abigail says our climate makes Australian interiors different. “In Northern Europe we spend far longer inside than outside and our light is very different. Being soft we can dabble with dark sludgy hues much more easily (something which I am pretty obsessed with).
“Australian interiors tend to brighter and lighter and tend to hone in on one vibe, whether that’s traditional or contemporary or rustic and in Europe I think we tend to mix far more different periods and styles in more of a kaleidoscopic, ad hoc way. Obviously a lot of that has to do with geography and accessibility of stuff.
“You guys also really focus on making the outside an extension of the inside which I adore, so outdoor rooms are treated with as much respect as indoor rooms, whereas over here (weather-related obviously) we can be a little lazy when it comes to our outdoor spaces.”
She adds: “I love your way of life; the climate the food, how welcoming and friendly everyone is and I love your fascination with interiors. You guys have been far more interior obsessed than we have. We are catching up, slowly but surely. That enthusiasm and passion for interiors is infections and for me, utterly enchanting.”
Abigail hates predicting trends, saying they’re based on other people’s opinions and not on the value of the design. “I would say, refreshingly, there are no longer any boundaries. Anything goes, from embracing Hollywood glamour to a rustic boho vibe. From metallics taking centre stage, to hand thrown organic vessels. There is one thing that stands out and that is the desire for longevity – people want to invest in good design and are becoming bolder and more relaxed with their choices as a result.”
These days products with personality stand out. “Hence the animal fascination that Jonathan Adler and a few others (including me) have honed in on so well. Other than something being well made, it has to have personality to lift an interior from ordinary to extraordinary, so if I had to pinpoint a trend it would be a personality-laden one!”
In styling terms, Abigail names stylists Megan Morton, Glen Proebstel and Sibella Court as inspiring Australian creatives, as well as Melbourne architects Elenberg Fraser. “Oh and I adore and subscribe to all your magazines: Vogue Living, Inside Out, Belle, Real Living.”
Not surprisingly, she’s excited to return to our shores next year. “Decoration + Design is a great showcase for buyers, designers, architects and decorators to see the latest, coolest products all under one roof. As a buyer I am continually on the hunt to find new things that other stores in Europe just don’t have, which means I have to travel further and further afield.
“Decoration + Design is a great resource for me and I cannot wait to start trawling the show. I am also delighted and honoured to be speaking. The event lineup is fabulous, with a whole host of thought-provoking seminars on all things design.”
Put me down for a ticket now.
Decoration + Design, a trade-only event, is on at the Sydney Exhibition Centre from 6 to 8 February 2013.