an elle decoration story

September 13, 2012  in interior styling

Sania Pell story for Elle Decoration magazine

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.

Sania Pell story for Elle Decoration magazine

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.

Sania Pell story for Elle Decoration magazine

Sania Pell story for Elle Decoration magazine

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.

Sania Pell story for Elle Decoration magazine

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.

Sania Pell painted cubes

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.

Sania Pell indigo ink painting

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.

Sania Pell geometric stitched canvas

Sania Pell geometric painted rug

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!


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  1. allesistgut says:

    I love that post. The colours are gorgeous. The inky canvas is great!

  2. one of my favourite magazines – It must be still a thrill to see your work all glossy and bright is such a lovely magazine – I will have to get someone to pick me one up and bring it out to me in France. Congratulations! And lots of great ideas for projects here.

  3. Inge says:

    Congratulations Sania! I realized I hadn’t left a comment in a long time, and what a surprise to find your work published in Elle Decoration! It must be such a great feeling to see your work out there!! I love everything, it looks amazing. Would love to see the work behind the scenes, it must be a hard job to get all the details right. It really looks fab!

  4. Cathy Pyle says:

    Wonderful, I love your work: very inspiring!

  5. I love the shapes! The rug is such a good idea, I want to try it!!!

  6. Margarita says:

    Hello Sania, nice seeing you the other evening. OMG I didn’t realised you styled this shoot in ELLE deco latest issue, I LOVE it, you are a crack, please can I use some of this photos to post about it in my blog? well done, you have a real talent for this.

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Sania Pell freelance interior stylist London.

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.

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