“We love to contrast texture, shapes and materials because the success of an interior comes from that playful juxtaposition, putting opposites side by side,” writes interior designer Sophie Ashby in her first monograph, Studio Ashby: Home Art Soul (Rizzoli). “I call it ‘happy clashing.’”
Raised in both England and South Africa, Ashby has developed her eclectic sensibility over a decade at the helm of her firm, which she expanded to include a one-stop interiors shop, Sister by Studio Ashby, in 2020. Ashby’s style is present in each of her projects, and in her pimento red Georgian home in East London, where bold colors abound. A banana yellow velvet sofa in the living room is adorned in traditional Bengali kantha and Ghanaian kente textiles alongside striking works by artists such as London-based painter Tomo Campbell, Namibia-born photographer Kyle Weeks, and South African artist Lunga Ntila. A tiger-motif rug that Ashby designed, which she calls “a piece of art in its own right,” is on display in the bathroom, and in a bedroom, tables made of scrap-waste veneer add whimsy. Ashby has said she has a preoccupation with the meaning of home—a concept that’s not so straightforward for her, as her family moved about. The idea of relocation further piqued a fascination about what walls could say about the people dwelling within them.
Ashby writes that she centered her first project in the US, a San Francisco apartment, around the client’s growing art collection, to which she added vintage French and Italian pieces that would stand up to the grandeur of the works on the walls (like a digital print by Isaac Julien and a sculpture by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg). She brought the library walls to life in a romantic de Gournay print of berries, blooms, and birds, and installed a rose-tinted marble in the kitchen to bring lightness to an otherwise heavy space.
But Ashby’s style transcends rooms—she wears it too, from sculptural gold accessories to überminimal shirting. Ashby has shared more of her favorite things with Vanity Fair.
DAILY UNIFORM: Simple silhouettes from Jil Sander and a Métier handbag.
TO RUN ERRANDS: Prada loafers!
WRIST CANDY: Anything from Alighieri.
HEIRLOOM: My engagement and wedding rings by Emma Clarkson Webb.
SKIN SAVIOR: Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Sleepair Intensive Soothing Repair mask.
“NO-MAKEUP MAKEUP”: Chantecaille Just Skin tinted moisturizer.
PERFECT APPLICATION: Hourglass Cosmetics makeup brushes.
TO DETANGLE: Hershesons detangling brush.
PERFUME: Vyrao Georgette eau de parfum.
SUPPLEMENT: Wild Nutrition.
SELF-CARE: A deep tissue massage on the regular.
LISTENING TO: Sampha’s new album, Lahai.
INSPIRED BY: The Royal Academy of Arts.
UNWINDING WITH: Adam Buxton’s podcast. He always makes me laugh.
RECENT ADDITION: A Sammi Lynch painting.
ON DISPLAY: A life-size faux sheep.
AROMA: Moro Dabron Herbarium candle.
PAINT COLOR: Pollen by Atelier Ellis in the dressing room.
LIGHTING: Henry Holland Studio.
CUSHIONS: An Afua in walnut from Sister by Studio Ashby.
SOMETHING SENTIMENTAL: A painting my husband, Charlie Casely-Hayford, made when he was 16.
MORNING CUP: Rooibos tea with oat milk.
COMFORT FOOD: Baked beans and cheddar cheese on buttered toast!
SUNDAY DINNER: A roast chicken.
DINING OUT: At Spring in London, where my sister Rose works—it’s all excellent.
IDEAL STAY: Monastero Santa Rosa, Amalfi Coast.
LONG WEEKEND: Eating fish and chips on a cold beach.
LUGGAGE: July suitcase.
TO SHOP: Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market for vintage furniture.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified a pictured ring as being designed by Emma Clarkson Webb. That ring was designed by Seb Brown. The story has been updated to show rings by both designers.