September 30, 2012 in interior styling
A few people have asked me what it is like behind the scenes on a shoot, so I thought I would share a glimpse behind the camera on the Cox & Cox project I worked on. I remembered I had taken a few quick snaps while we were photographing the wrap and stamp section at my house, which was used as a location for one of the shoot days.
I always start by working out and drawing individual shot ideas in advance, so that I can make and source all the props needed for the different shots and to save time on the day of the shoot. Then whilst shooting, it becomes a collaboration between photographer, stylist and art director with help from the assistants, especially when there are a lot of products and shots to be completed. In front of the camera everything is set out for the shot with alternative options nearby for flexibility and to ensure the final shot works. On the periphery, out of shot it can look like a muddle with camera equipment, computer screen, laptops, props, reflectors, backgrounds, shot lists and sketches – plus all of the products! It can look a little chaotic but is all rather organised. You can see how the website version of the shot above turned out here.
September 19, 2012 in interior styling
Here are some more of my favourite images of my styling work for Cox & Cox, taken from a cross section of categories, including Decorative Home, Wrap & Stamp and Bed & Bath. There are so many more images to see, so if you like these do have a look at their website.
Cox & Cox was founded in 1999 and aimed to be different to the normal mail order companies by personally choosing interesting products for individually-minded customers who didn’t want the same old high street items. As an interior stylist and author of craft books, I have bought many of their products over the years, especially the craft items. As they say on their website, they embrace the heartfelt philosophy that it’s possible to create a home that is both beautiful and practical and I have to agree!
I am always using their rubber stamps, such as the vintage-style numbers set (£22.50) and alphabet (£18.50) and have featured them on my blog before. My husband has bought a box of gorgeous ribbons for me in the past too, so It was a joy to create shots using them all. My aim was to give customers ideas on how the products could be used, as well as showing the actual product itself, providing inspiration to get creative and try them for themselves. For instance the blank cards and envelopes (£12.50 for 50) I felt needed to be decorated and I tried to show how this could be done with their washi tapes, stamps and labels. It is the same idea with using their tapes and tags in the images with the wrapping and tissue papers, combining their products to greater effect.
Whilst I was making the props at home, my daughter was inspired by all the materials surrounding me and wanted to help me and make her own versions. We used some of her and her brother’s little creative additions in some of the images!
A good stock of blank cards, papers, tags and tapes, means you are never caught out when you remember a birthday, a celebration or just need to say thank you.
If you love to make, have a look at the Cox & Cox Wrap & Stamp section and hopefully the images will inspire your creativity.
September 19, 2012 in interior styling
One of the jobs I worked on in the run up to summer was styling for the new catalogue and re-designed website for Cox & Cox, the home interiors mail order company. Some of you may have seen their stylish new catalogue which dropped through letterboxes recently (if not you can request a catalogue here). I styled for three of the four weeks’ intensive shoot with a lot of prep work done in advance. Each shot was planned before hand, making sure that each item was given a little story or twist to help to make it different. I introduced creative aspects like chalk drawings, painted leaves and props, stitched cards and hand-stamped tags to give each shot its own personality. Part of the brief was to bring a new look to the collection, which includes new products for autumn and winter, and working with Cox & Cox and photographer Emma Lee I hope we have.
I thought I would share some of my favourite images and products that I styled and to begin here are some of my personal favourites from the Domestic Diva section.
Fun Cutlery Wall Art (£50.00) for your kitchen (also useful if a giant pops round for tea).
There are lots of great products for kids too.
I will post some more of my favourite images later today, and some of the Christmas images in a couple of months’ time as it’s far too early for the C word!
If you don’t already have one then you can order a catalogue here and there are dozens more images on the new-look Cox & Cox website. They are also running a competition for a chance to win £500 to spend on their products!
Did you receive a copy of the catalogue already? I would love to hear what you thought.
September 13, 2012 in interior styling
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of working on this six page story for Elle Decoration Magazine which you can see it in this month’s bumper October issue, a wonderfully heavy issue as a lead up to the London Design Festival and the Elle Deco British Design Awards. It started after I submitted some ideas to the editorial team and this Japan-inspired story – with my working title of origami – was given the go ahead. One of the pleasures of working on a feature like this is you are free to be inventive. Another is working in partnership with a creative photographer, in this case talented Uli Schade who I have worked with on many previous Elle Deco shoots.
This type of photo shoot is created from scratch with a location or studio researched and all furniture, products and materials sourced and created to fit with the concept. Each shot is throughly considered in advance, though there is always improvisation and flexibility on the shoot as each shot is created.
I especially love the day bed by Another Country and the pleated paper sculpture by artist Richard Sweeney in the image above left. The concrete wall is in fact wallpaper by Tom Haga which can be produced to fit your wall size exactly.
There is a conscious mix of items in this story to appeal to all budgets, some are of a higher price, some high street and others can be made or customised at home. The desk legs in the shot above for example are simple £5 Ikea trestle legs but repeated at varying angles to create a geometric pattern under the untreated pine £35 Ikea table top painted with Fired Earth paint. I always like to make some unique objects too, to give the story its own personality and to encourage readers to do the same. Items that can be made or painted at home that cost little but create individuality. The photos below I took at home and show some of these items.
Some of the simple, untreated wooden blocks were placed in water first and then into indigo ink to create a two tone ombré look. Others were painted with acrylic paint in different flat colours on their sides as a contrast and to complement the overall colour palette.
The canvas above was painted spontaneously and freely with indigo ink and a Chinese brush that I bought in Hong Kong many years ago. The large canvas below from London Graphics was painted with Fired Earth emulsion and then I stitched an origami folding diagram through it with embroidery thread, an easy way to create art at home.
This rug took a few hours to make with the help of my assistant Polly Ord, and transformed a simple £20 Ikea rug into something unique that fitted with the story. It creates a graphic but fun optical illusion on the floor.
To read the full story, see Uli’s images at their best and find details of all of the products, you can buy the October issue of Elle Decoration in newsagents now. You can get the lovely subscriber-only covers like the one above if you subscribe. Elle Deco also has a Facebook page and you can follow editor Michelle Ogundehin and the team on Twitter too.
And as we roll into the fabulous London Design Festival I’m looking forward to hitting the shows. I hope to see some of you there!
September 4, 2012 in inspiring places
Whilst on holiday in Croatia we are always surrounded by boats as a large part of island life is spent in and on the water. All types and sizes of vessel are moored up in the village harbour, alongside jetties and in the port and marinas on the mainland. Some of the boats are pristine and others well used, from weathered and rusty fishing boats to little, hand-painted putt-putts and enormous super yachts, where you wonder which billionaire magnate is on board.
The repeating geometric patterns of masts and and colours and textures of hefty ropes and weathered wood all caught my eye and I thought I would share a few more photos from my summer.
Graphic lettering and registration numbers stencilled onto the side of quaint traditional wooden fishing boats with gulls circling overhead, hoping for the scraps to be thrown overboard. Natural monochromatic colours combine with washed-out tones and hints of rust while painted whites pop with splashes of blue, the traditional boating colours.
Whilst growing up my brother and I would take out my grandfather’s little boat and row to town or along the coast to hidden little coves, and now our children are enjoying the water and boats just as we did.
Seeing these boating influences each summer was one of the inspirations behind the children’s play sail and pirate flag project in my book The Homemade Home for Children. And some of you may recognise the cheeky little captain of this boat.
Aye aye Captain!
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 18 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
To enquire about commissioning Sania for commercial or editorial projects, please use the contact form.