February 27, 2014 in interior styling
These images are from a collaboration with photographer Joanna Henderson, taken last Autumn. I worked with Jo on a few projects last year, firstly a perfume book by Karen Gilbert which I will post about another time, another title for Cico Books that will come out later this year and also the Liberty Christmas stocking images. We ended the year off with this shoot – an experiment with paint and paper.
Objects were sourced from around my house: my Croatian grandmother’s trinkets, a glittered leaf purchased at Sibella Court’s shop The Society Inc in Sydney last year, a pile of vintage labels bought at Kempton Park antique fair. I painted canvases, wooden cubes and discs in a selection of coloured emulsions and Jo and I created the still life images up in my loft room. The paper adds great texture, crinkled up sheets or in piles like the labels.
Paints included Little Greene‘s Heat (rust orange), Roman Plaster (biscuit/taupe) and Pink Slip (dusky pink) and Farrow & Ball‘s Downpipe (dark grey), Pelt (dark aubergine) and Strong White (the wall colour).
With Spring approaching I am ready to embrace softer colours, pinks with taupe, aubergine with rust, cream with bronze and a little sparkle sprinkled on top for good measure.
February 18, 2014 in flowers, food, handmade goodness
I took these pictures last year. I had popped into Made London, an event held at One Marylebone where European designer makers exhibit, to see my friend Grainne Morton who had a stand there. After we caught up I browsed the show and bought a few new objects. I still had my favourite hired photo shoot surface at home and couldn’t resist taking some photos before it was returned to the prop house the next day. My new purchases all had a monochrome, geometric and graphic quality that I contrasted with a handful of natural items picked from the garden.
This glass and ceramic mini vessel is by ceramcist Jill Shaddock who was part of the Crafts Council‘s exhibition stand, promoting their 2013 Hothouse designer makers.
This asymmetric, blackened wooden serving board is by Pacha Design. I also used it in my recent styling story for Elle Decoration.
This delicate metal ring is by jeweller Kirsty Pearson, another of the Crafts Council’s Hothouse designer makers in 2013.
Craft shows are a great way to buy unique, hand made items for your home or to wear and to support designer makers at the same time.
Made London is being held at the same venue this year on 24-26 October 2014.
February 9, 2014 in interior styling
Even now, after more than 12 years of working for Elle Decoration magazine, I am always excited to see a story I worked on in print and my latest story is in the new March issue which dropped through my letterbox this week. This story – entitled Modern Minimal – was inspired by a trip to Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art which I visited just after it had opened. I loved the newly-opened gallery space, the art hung there and the way it was displayed. Having been inspired by a gallery I wanted the style of this story and arrangement of furniture to look like a design. The furniture is boxy, graphic and monochrome, with hits of bold colour in amongst this. I styled the shoot just before Christmas and it was shot by the talented Uli Schade.
“Modern Minimal – For strong Spring style contrast clean lined monochrome pieces with blocks of bright colour and bold geometrics…”
The location we used had a great balcony which meant we could look at shots from directly overhead, like the table shot above.
The Modern Minimal shoot is in the March 2014 issue of the UK’s Elle Decoration magazine which also features a catwalk to couch article and ideas to update your kitchens and bathrooms.
Have a peek inside the magazine in the video below:
For a full credit and contact list of the fab furniture, products, decorating materials and artworks I used in the shoot please look in the magazine.
The magazine is available at all good newsagents now.
February 4, 2014 in flowers, interior styling
There is something about the intensity of a really electric blue in a paint or a flower that just sings when placed against a pure deep black. Recently photographer Beth Evans and I spent a day testing some ideas we wanted to explore for still life images, one of which was using this vivid but moody combination of blue on black. Here are some of the results.
I used some of my paintings on canvas that I had done previously using oil, acrylic, spray paint and household paint as as backdrops. The flowers in such dramatic colours were purchased at Scarlet and Violet and Beth worked her magic creating a richness with her camera.
There is another food-related series we shot that I will share soon, so do pop back.
January 29, 2014 in inspiring places, my london
London is such a busy, vibrant city with so much to see and do that we don’t always have time to do everything that is on offer, especially with young children. As an interior stylist living in London I travel all over this wonderful city and know the shops well, it is part of my job after all, but when it come to relaxing and enjoying the other side of London to where I live I am always in a bit of a rush. So one weekend, when the children were on a sleepover with their grandparents, my husband and I headed East for our own Saturday night sleepover and saw our city in a different, relaxed way. Rather than jumping on a plane to another city, we hopped on the tube in West London and an hour later we were there, perfect. We saw sights, shops and restaurants that we had meant to visit for a while, but simply had not got round to.
We stayed at the newly opened Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street. It was the perfect bolt hole – well designed with a really good urban aesthetic, great service, a buzzing bar and a spacious lobby with a coffee bar and restaurant called Hoi Polloi. Our room was creatively designed in a cool colour palette of greys with indigo and a splash of mustard. It also had their signature old school record turntable and selection of LPs, I just couldn’t help myself dancing away to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The pricing is very reasonable for London considering the quality of the hotel and I would recommend having a look if you’re considering a stay in London and want to visit the creative hub that is the East End.
The Ace have collaborated with a number of brand names to produce items you can use during your stay or purchase as mementos, such leather goods with Ally Capellino and the bicycle above with Tokyobike who have a stylish store in Shoreditch too.
The hotel’s interior is by London-based interior design and architectural practice Universal Design Studio.
On Saturday afternoon we meandered down Redchurch Street, popping into Tracey Neuls (my favourite shoe store), APC, Hostem with its inspiring interior and couture womenswear upstairs, Aesop and Labour and Wait. We wandered around Arnold Circus and into Ally Capellino (my favourite bag store – can you spot a trend here?), the sweet Luna and Curious and Leila’s Shop. We stopped in at fab interiors store SCP, Artwords Bookshop and went on to Brick Lane market and the various vintage stores. Saturday evening we started with a drink at the Electricity Showrooms (a bar we frequented when it first opened in the 90s and was something different, although now it is more of a traditional pub unfortunately), followed by a wonderful dinner at renowned The Clove Club and finished off with drinks back at The Ace Hotel bar which was busy with Saturday night revellers and DJ playing.
On Sunday we began with brunch at Terence Conran’s Albion, followed by a wander down Columbia Road for the flower market, shops and stalls. We popped in to House of Hackney, Present and even managed to buy a new sofa on the spur of the moment – a 1960s Danish design 3-seater in grey felt from the always excellent Atomic Antiques. We took time to wander around the streets near Spitalfields, where there are beautiful old Georgian silk weavers’ houses. One of the weekend’s highlights was visiting Denis Severs’ House at 18 Folgate Street, which has been on my to-do list for years but with limited opening hours I had never quite made it. It is a recreation of a silk weaver’s house in the 18th century and part historical re-enactment, part art installation, part stage set. You walk around in silence while candles and fireplaces burn, and food and drinks are out on tables as if the residents have just left the room. It is filled with atmosphere and character and after a short queue to get in it was a wonder and really quite magical. So much so we returned at New Year with our children.
Shoredtich, Hoxton, Brick Lane, Spitalfields – they are all filled with amazing Georgian buildings in varying states of repair and surrounded by street art and a mish-mash of newer architectural styles, from bland 60′s offices to cutting edge glass towers. I love that contrast.
It was great to have a little holiday in our own city but it has given me a hankering for an urban city break further afield.
Hmm, The Ace Hotel New York… now there’s an idea!
December 29, 2013 in food, interior styling
With New Year’s Eve coming up, I wanted to share a shoot I worked on recently with the talented photographer Beth Evans for The Observer Food Monthly in conjunction with John Lewis. Although this was Part 2 of ideas for a stylish Christmas it’s also perfect for New Year. The theme was cocktails in the jazz age, so think The Great Gatsby to get you into the party mood.
Drinks were served in cut glass tumblers and hi balls, food served in stainless steel bowls, set on geometric fabric tablecloths to set the scene. Cocktail shakers with their timeless and elegant shape were necessary to make the drinks and added a sculptural shape to the images.
I wrapped gifts in silver paper with strings of sequins wound round them and topped with feathers. Party food was luscious and luxuriant; deep, dark velvety grapes, devils on horseback, smoked salmon blinis and juicy vibrant olives, pomegranates and Pavlova all set in low light with twinkling candles. Recipes include Between The Sheets, Gin Rickey and Mint Julep. All quite potent from the small sips I tried!
As part of the overall feature I also styled and prepped the set for three short films for John Lewis with writer and presenter Felicity Cloake. Here Felicity shows you how to mix the perfect cocktail:
Have a look at Beth Evans’ food, interiors and still life photography in her online portfolio here. Chrissie T Holden assisted with food and styling.
You can read the full story and see other images, ideas, tips, recipes and a competition to win a cookery class and a set of copper cookware! now over on The Guardian Online. There is also a great interactive version with high res images and videos:
All the props are available to buy at John Lewis so if you want to know what any of the products featured are the click on the main image on that page and you can see the product names and prices.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you the very best for the new year!
December 11, 2013 in news
I am excited to tell you that the baubles I designed last Christmas are available to buy exclusively at Not On The High Street.com. Made by The Letteroom, they are available in neon pink and neon yellow/green with sequins or snowflakes inside and you can have the message customised to something personal to you, or give them as a gift to a friend or loved ones with their name added. It’s up to you. And if you choose the right message I think these would look perfect hanging up all year round!
As seen on TV! The baubles also appear in the fab NOTHS Christmas TV advertising campaigns too, which was a lovely surprise, as well as on the cover of their Christmas catalogue. There’s a twinkle in the air and everything’s more interesting…
If you would like to give your tree a neon pop sparkle this Christmas you can order them now at notonthehighstreet.com.
If you prefer a more traditional Christmas colour scheme I also designed the red and white version below. These are also available at Not On The High Street as well as directly from The Letteroom (whose Christmas catalogue I styled). This one is filled with paper snowflakes and you can choose personalised tape or a written tag with your very own unique message.
We will be putting up our Christmas decorations this weekend, something the whole family gets involved with. My children love pulling the baubles and lights out of the storage box and hanging them on the tree and we all smile as the lights get switched on for the first time.
Christmas is coming and I hope you have a wonderful time. x
Order neon baubles >
Order traditional baubles here or here >
Top photos courtesy notonthehighstreet.com and The Letteroom, other photos by Sania Pell.
November 29, 2013 in homemade, interior styling
A few weeks ago I was asked by Liberty to make a Liberty Christmas stocking for Sew Liberty and their blog. I came up with and made a few different designs and worked with interiors and still life photographer Joanna Henderson on the photos. We had a fun few hours shooting them up in my loft studio.
These festive stockings are easy to make and add a little Liberty style to Christmas. Mix and match different patterns, buttons, trims and motifs to add visual interest. The memories associated with these hand-made pieces, will be treasured for years to come, they could easily become family heirlooms passed down to future generations of children to hang on Christmas Eve.
Materials and equipment:
Fabric that won’t fray when cut – such as suiting wool, felt, finely woven linen.
A mix of Liberty print fabric in different scales and patterns
Pencil and paper to draw a larger template
Ribbons and trimmings
Needle and thread
Buttons for covering, lace flowers and beads (optional)
Wool and cardboard to make pompoms
To make a stocking:
Step 1: Measure your base fabric to make your stocking, either with one piece folded in half or two pieces pinned together. The stockings are 60cm long by 25cm wide from heel to toe with a top opening of 17cm diameter. You can adjust the sizing to suit the size of your fabric or make the stocking wider to accommodate larger gifts.
Step 2: Print out my template for reference and draw out a template on paper to the appropriate size. If you do not feel confident drawing then a photocopy shop can scale it up for you. Then pin the paper shape to your base fabric and cut out, so when you cut you end up with two pieces of stocking shaped fabric.
Step 3: Iron bondaweb onto the reverse of your chosen Liberty print fabrics.
Step 4: Cut out a toe, heal, top band and stars or flower shapes to the appropriate sizes and pin them in place, bondaweb side down.
Step 5: Iron them in place on a medium heat. You only need to do one side of the stocking if being hung, but you could do both sides of the stocking if you prefer.
Step 6: Add Liberty print covered buttons, vintage lace flowers, beading and vintage buttons to add interest.
Step 7: Pin the two sides together and stitch with a small border of 0.5cm using the sewing machine.
Step 8: Stitch a 15-20cm length of ribbon in a loop on to the top band to hang the stocking and embellish with extra trims.
Step 9: Sew on optional pompoms and tags to make the stockings more personal.
To make the pompoms:
Cut out two circles of card 8cm in diameter with a 3cm hole in the middle. Wind the wool round and round until the hole in the middle becomes small. Cut through the center of the two pieces of card and tie a piece of wool securely around the two and pull. Trim the length of the wool down until a thick pompom is achieved, stitch onto the stocking.
To make the tags:
Cut out a rectangle of fabric, snip off the corners and make a hole for the ribbon. Cut out letters or shapes such as birds from the fabric and iron into place with bondaweb.
As the fabric I was using had a little bird motif within its design, I cut out the bird shape and used it as a decoration amongst some rosehips.
I first met photographer Jo Henderson on a shoot a long time ago when we were still both assisting and we worked on some test shoots together to start our portfolios. We recently worked together styling and photographing a book for my publisher Cico Books. It was lovely to see Jo again and we have continued to work together on some other projects.
See Jo’s work on her website here.
It makes things a little more interesting if all the designs are slightly varied. I made fabric covered buttons for the pink stocking above creating little spots of pattern dotted down its length. You can see the original post over on the Liberty blog.
Liberty print fabrics used:
Joyce A Tana Lawn, Capel F Tana Lawn, Wiltshire S Tana Lawn, Mitsi Valeria C Tana Lawn, Mitsi D Tana Lawn, Marco A Tana Lawn, Glenjade in red Tana Lawn.
Left over strips of fabric can also be used as ribbon to wrap around gifts and make them look extra special like in the image below.
I made stockings for my own children when they were babies and they still get so excited as they hang them up, imagining what Santa will fill them with while they sleep. I hope they’ll keep the stockings and use them for their own children one day.
Happy making x
This design and project is for non-commercial, personal use only. Design © 2013 Sania Pell.
November 22, 2013 in food, interior styling
These images are from my recent work for The Observer that appeared in last Sunday’s publication. They are from Part 1 of a Christmas Celebrations feature in The Observer Food Monthly and sponsored by leading UK high street retailer John Lewis. I selected all the products featured in the shots from the John Lewis Oxford Street store and their extensive online shop and mixed them with bespoke touches and wrapped gifts that I had made beforehand. The images were taken by talented photographer Helen Cathcart who I worked with on location to create the shots.
There were two stories within the feature. The first was “Make & Bake” to showcase the great cook and bakeware at John Lewis. Chrissie Holden who assisted me on the shoot made the mince pies and biscuits so beautifully.
You can read the full Make & Bake article and see other images now over on The Guardian Online. If you want to know what any of the products featured are the click on the main image on that page and you can see the product names and prices.
It was followed by “Dressed to Impress” – ideas on how to style your festive table. I embellished mini napkin holders and wrapped glasses with fabric as candle holders and mixed with their own birch church candles. You can also read this full story on The Guardian Online’s website – have a look, I would love to know what you think.
The dark, rich and moody image above is one of may favourites from the shoot. The image below has plates and dishes piled high as if mid-process of setting the table, the one in the magazine was much more elaborate.
You can read the full John Lewis Cook Christmas feature here – with lots of images, ideas, tips, recipes and a competition to win a cookery class and a set of copper cookware!
Part 2 of this story will be in The Observer on Sunday December 8th so pick up a copy to read more.
I hope you enjoy looking at the images. Have a look at Helen’s fab food, travel and lifetsyle photography in her online portfolio here and Helen also has a food-related blog called Helly Belly.
There is no denying it is the beginning of the festive season and time to start preparing to eat, drink and be merry!
November 19, 2013 in interior styling
Following my last post, I thought I would post some photos I took on the shoot that I thought may be of interest as a little glimpse behind the scenes. During the heatwave in June this Summer, Uli Schade and I were shooting the Christmas catalogue for The Letteroom. We shot in an idyllic setting in the countryside, working in a beautiful historic barn, using the original distressed walls as our backdrops and creating our own crisp, new sets to contrast within the space.
When we had a moment to look out of the doors we saw rabbits hopping and heard birds tweeting, a big difference to the usual London shoots!
The shots above of the team at work are from the The Letteroom’s blog.
November 17, 2013 in interior styling
I was approached in early Summer by The Letteroom to put ideas together for a new look and photographic direction for their first ‘grown-up’ catalogue, a taster of their product range for this Christmas season. The Letteroom sells personalised gifts and products of a typographical nature – homewares, accessories, decorations, prints – all with letters on that you can choose and personalise with bespoke messages. As a fan of all things typographic, photographer Uli Schade and I went with a clean and graphic feel for the images in a monochromatic palette. Some of the images we shot are below.
We were very kindly lent furniture by Simon Jones Studio and Julian Chichester for the shoot. Other pieces were flea market bought and painted to complement the sets we designed.
Flick through below to see the images Uli and I created in a sample of The Letteroom’s new catalogue:
Head over to The Letteroom’s website to order the full catalogue and browse their product range which includes the products in the images shown. There are lots of ideas for great Christmas gifts!
November 4, 2013 in food, interior styling
This little shoot was put together by myself and my friend Chrissie Holden. We first met at our children’s school summer fair two and half years ago. I had just finished lunch with my family and was chatting to my husband on a picnic table as the children had run off to play with their friends. A tall, bubbly mum wearing fab sunglasses asked if she could join us on the table with her family. We started chatting about the school and realised that her son and my daughter would both be starting reception together. She pointed to a banner hanging above the tea stall, appliquéd with fabric strawberries and tea cups and saucers on a natural linen and commented how much she loved it and had photographed it. I smiled and said “I made it!” and so our friendship began.
Chrissie assists me on commercial photo shoots when I need an extra pair of hands and having done this for a while , a natural progession was for us to create a little shoot together just for fun and to post on my blog. I took the pictures, made some of the plate props out of Das modeling clay and we styled it together. We visited a local prop house for extra vessels, plates and boards to add to our own personal selection and spent a few hours one day styling and photographing at Chrissie’s lovely home in between school runs.
Chrissie is a foodie, so it seemed natural to work with this talent of hers and create a food-related story. She also wrote the words below (which did make me blush a little!) especially for this post to give a little insight into the thoughts behind the images. And if you want to say hi then you can find Chrissie over on Instagram.
“Contemporary cookbooks have become photographic tomes in their own right. A paragon of styling, lighting, art direction and photography, some of them really are works of art. The wonders of nature and the alchemy of ingredients lovingly prepared then presented with care and attention to detail make for a very beautiful and engaging narrative.
Food styling and photography has since come on in leaps and bounds in the past two decades. There is the seminal work of Donna Hay, whose clean and crisp styling has been hugely influential. The moody and emotive work of Katie Quinn Davies on her ‘What Katie Ate’ blog and cookbook; and the phenomenal catalogue of work by Ditte Isager, whose earthy tones and calming greys make for incredible still lives, as seen in the NOMA cook book and Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘It’s all good’.”
“Lately I’ve been enjoying a very pure food aesthetic. It’s borne out of wanting to eat cleanly and a desire to live a less cluttered life. It also conforms to Sania and my mutual love of all things Scandi-nese. So, when Sania suggested we work on a food shoot together I was delighted. It is incredible to observe her eye in action and the way her brain works never ceases to amaze me. As regular readers of her blog, you will be no strangers to her creativity, flair and general styling wowness, but to see it in action is something special.
We decided to work with breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, after all. We kept things simple, offering the ingredients to you in their purest forms. We kept the colour palette neutral, layering tactile linens and ceramics. This is what we came up with.”
Now… what’s for breakfast tomorrow?