With a new Islington store, to be revealed this month and a vibrant, flamboyant faux flower summer collection, interior designer Abigail Ahern is raging full speed ahead. She tells The Resident why nature is so important in the home and why fast fashion is not a necessity
Words: Mark Kebble
Abigail Ahern’s Upper Street atelier has long been a treasure trove for those seeking out unique interior design – and judging by her enthusiasm over a new Islington flagship store, we should all be very excited indeed.
‘I want to delight all the senses and plan to create an alchemy that is both magical and mystical,’ she teases me with an insight. ‘Textures abound, surprises await every corner – the palette is restrained and there are lots of cool materials like faux stone, concrete and slate. It’s an intoxicating combo I cannot wait to open.’
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The grand reveal will be later this month, but for those of an impatient disposition can take solace in the launch of Ahern’s SS16 faux flower range. ‘We wanted to champion a very foraged and natural aesthetic,’ she explains on the collection, ‘everything has that “just plucked from the hedgerow vibe”. So we have lots of foliage, meadow flowers, lavenders, blousy hydrangeas and fat-headed blooms.
‘The concept of nature in the home is extremely important – it gives any space immediate life and interest. I want my home to feel connected to the outdoors and the rhythm of the seasons as much as possible.’
I wholeheartedly believe you don’t need constant new product drops to drive sales, you just need inspiring seasonal collections to stand the test of time. I want people to have our pieces in their lives forever.
Ahern’s approach to the collection typifies her belief that fast fashion is simply not the way to go when it comes to design. ‘We work with factories where it’s not really about turn-around times – all our botanicals are hand-painted for instance and the lead times they work to are typically four months,’ she says.
‘Interiors shouldn’t be so fast and transient, with things in and out in an instant. We create interest as a brand by engaging our community on social media, running design classes, writing on our blog… I wholeheartedly believe you don’t need constant new product drops to drive sales, you just need inspiring seasonal collections to stand the test of time. I want people to have our pieces in their lives forever.’
Look at the Abigail Ahern brand and that’s all the testimony you need to see it’s an approach that works. ‘We are expanding our own label big time,’ Ahern enthuses, ‘with more accessories, lighting and botanicals. We have just launched in Selfridges and have retailers all over the world buying into our collections, which is hugely exciting. Plus with a new flagship space, we’ll really be able to have the concept store experience take off.’
The new shop will be located by Islington Green at 12-14 Essex Road, so why did Ahern want to stay in these parts? ‘We have built up a fabulous client base over the years and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,’ she answers simply.
‘I love the mix of people you get through the door, from celebrities to politicians, bankers to bakers. Also in an era of identical high streets, I think Islington has managed to retain its own personality, with an interesting mix of eclectic shops. Oh,’ she adds smiling, ‘from a personal – and lazy – perspective it’s a quick pedal along the canal from my home!’
1 RATHER THAN THE ‘FEATURE WALL’, I THINK TEXTURE’S GOING TO BE THE NEW THING. THINK FAUX FUR, RUSTIC WOOD CLADDING, VELVETS, PONY SKIN, SUEDES, AND CEMENT CLADDING.
2 LIBRARIES AS DECOR IS ALSO SOMETHING THAT IS GAINING TRACTION. BOUTIQUE HOTELS USE THEM TO MAKE SPACES FEEL SOPHISTICATED AND SWANKY, COSSETED AND COSY, AND THIS IS FILTERING DOWN TO HOMES.
3 I THINK A RETURN TO HOMESPUN CRAFTS WILL BE THE NEXT THING FOR INTERIORS. WE LIVE IN A HIGH TECH WORLD, SO I FEEL THERE IS A HUGE DESIRE FOR THINGS TO SLOW DOWN.