I’m so excited to bring a designer spotlight onto someone I massively admire and had the pleasure to work alongside. Many of you have asked me about my styling days and how I got started in the industry (which you can read about here) Sally Denning is one of my favourite stylists and massively respected in the industry, so I set out to ask her to share her journey into the world of interior styling and publishing.
When I first started styling, my background was all magazine based, but sadly magazines aren’t as popular as they were. I still do style shoots for magazines such as Homes & Gardens and Country Living, but they tend to commission less and don’t always have budgets to do big shoots. When I started out, there was no propping online, I had to pound the streets of London day in, day out sourcing props, furniture and fabrics to use in shoots, but now, you can do a lot of research from pretty much anywhere. I didn’t even have email when I first started styling, so you had to fax everyone to call in props! Imagine that! The most notable change though is the move from film to digital photography, a major shift in the industry which hit everyone hard with all the interiors photographers having to invest in new cameras and equipment, re-learn their skill, and working with laptops instead of polaroids! There is also a move now to more environmentally friendly and sustainable design which we desperately need in a world where we are so used to fast fashion in a disposable society.
When I was young I knew I wanted to work on a magazine and remember seeing a 1980s front cover of Ideal Home thinking it looked amazingly cool and that one day I would like to do THAT! So I guess you could say that my role as Style Editor of said magazine was a highlight. I’ve also achieved my ambition of writing an interiors book which was also pretty amazing for me. I’ve also done a fair bit of travelling and shoots abroad, always a dream if I’m honest. One of the stands that I co-designed for Little Greene won best stand at Decorex 2014 too which was a pretty great achievement. Without sounding corny though, I can honestly say that it’s a massive highlight to be able to work with the amazing teams that I do; with top London interiors photographers, creatives, set builders, assistants, seamstresses, florists is all pretty up there along with having some amazing clients who trust what I can create for them gets me out of bed every day.
Everywhere to be honest. Anything from the Interiors/trade shows that I go to such as London Design Week, Clerkenwell Design Week, Focus, and heaps more, to travelling. Books and magazines are a constant source of inspiration and I’m a big fan on Pinterest and Instagram too. I love when a new paint chart or fabric collection is launched so I can plan how I can weave them into my next shoot.
Yes, I’m constantly inspired by the latest trends and colours, it’s pretty hard not to be! Also, my clients rely on me to know what’s going on in the industry – what is current, what the season’s colours are, what the now micro-trend is, what the furniture designs are, the fabrics, you name it. I try to incorporate these into shoots I do to keep them fresh, it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on and ahead of the game. I love working with colour and textures and compiling a shoot to work as a cohesive collection of images at the end, still gives me such a buzz.
It all came about through my Instagram feed really. We spend a lot of time on the Suffolk coast which is where my Instagram feed was born @blackshorestyle I try to focus it on details, textures, muted tones and interiors, all reminiscent of the coast and modern rustic relaxed living. The publisher Ryland, Peters & Small actually contacted me which was a bit of a dream come true, as I had always wanted to write an interiors book, but just hadn’t quite found the time to get a proposal together.
I always feel lucky to be re-booked by my clients so various shoots are already on the cards. I have a few personal projects up my sleeve which I am hoping to launch soon and can’t mention quite yet, so watch this space! There may be another book may be in the offing too. The joy of freelance life is that you never know what may happen next.
You follow Sally’s inspirational Instagram feed here instagram.com/blackshorestyle/
Image at top: Homes & Gardens magazine