Interior Design

Interview with Sarah Mitchenall, winner of the Great Interior Design Challenge 2016

3rd March 2016
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Firstly I would like to congratulate Sarah Mitchenall for winning The Great Interior Design Challenge. It’s a fantastic competition and does a lot for the designers on the show, but especially the winners. I caught up with Sarah to ask a few questions.

What was your favourite project in the show and why?

My favourite project was Marlow, mainly because it was surprising to me, I had thought that as it was a brief that was out of my usual style that it might seem too stark, but actually the results were great, the sun shone and it was hugely enjoyable. It showed me that I could think out of the box and was the beginning of me starting to feel like I have strengths that can be built on in my interior designs.

Once the glamour of being on TV fades, how do you think that being on the show will help your business?

Ha, I’m not sure how glamorous it really is, I am just a normal mum and have continued working throughout. I am very down to earth so my head isn’t easily turned! That said… the experience has been wonderful (in retrospect) it has taken some time to digest everything I have learned and to see a pathway to what is still to come.

The show has given me confidence in a field I knew I loved but had yet to really dive into, it has taught me where my strengths lie and I have met some wonderful people who have encouraged me and continue to support me on the journey.

The show has been a great catalyst, I now know what I want to do and although we are starting small we have big dreams.

Did you enjoy being on TV?

I enjoyed the meeting people and filming part, as for watching myself on telly, I’m not sure….. I got to meet homeowners who really embraced the challenge as much as I did, that was wonderful.

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Has being on the show helped you to refine your style or focus?

Absolutely!! That has been the biggest thing.

Working under such tight constraints really throws you into a world of inventiveness, necessity being the mother of all invention. I have always just played with my home, but to do it to a brief really made me focus. It’s something I have always had to do for my garden design but I have never had to do that for interiors and the process really makes you stretch out and see what’s around, research and start to develop a style.

That said I have always found inspiration in so many forms, architecture, Le Corbusier for instance has been a huge influence on how I see shape and form in both interiors and gardens, it is without boundaries and connects to my love of sculpture and space, I am obsessed by eras, how each one is so definite and an interior can be dated by a simple piece of furniture, I love mixing those to bring warmth and character to a space.

I am the worst for tearing sheets from magazines before people have read them. The time working on the program made me focus on where my passion lies, I love product design on one side and I also get great pleasure out of delivering an interior that the client loves.

Eclectic is not necessarily the word but there is delight in the randomness of putting mixed era and modern designs together that is not only achievable on a varying budgets but is celebrating the vast world of design.

I like to stretch the boundaries and have fun

IMG_3152What’s next for your business/brand?

Wow, good question… we finished filming last summer and since then I have teamed up with a great friend Alexa de Castilho, our skills are very different but we share an aesthetic. Working together has brought something new and exciting to the table, we have begun an interiors business called Black Parrots Studio. We are both colourful people as the name suggests but of course black is always the full stop.

Our intention is to be working on interiors for clients in combination with developing new products such as lighting, fabrics wallpaper and furniture, I think one can inspire the other.

We would love to do collaborations too, House of Hackney fabrics featured pretty heavily in the final. What I love about them is that they are a British brand doing what they are good at, something to aspire to.

Abigail Ahern is another inspiring designer we would love to work with. We would also absolutely love a collaboration with companies like Designers Guild for fabrics and wallpaper. We live in Brighton and that in itself has a wealth of designers we would love to work with.

I would like to think that our future clients are people who need translators, a designer to bring the best out of their homes, to create living spaces that would affect them in a positive way. We are pretty adventurous designers so would absolutely love to have clients who are ready to go that extra mile but ultimately it is about the client and their individual needs and being inspired by just that, for us it is about doing what we love.

We know that we are starting small, but we think big, so it is going to be an interesting journey.

You can contact Sarah through her website Black Parrots Studio.

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  • Surface House

    I loved reading this interview! Great job, you can totally tell that Sarah is a lovely and down to earth person.
    Great to see some behind the scenes shots of filming too.
    I noticed how heavily House of Hackney featured throughout the show, so I was super happy to read that Black Parrots Studio is open to work with other British designers too!
    Regards, Laura,
    Surface House
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e2d138f9dd107b49ef6130fe5d1b0fafa5db30510fe8ada69682e7a327f7e536.jpg

    • Thank you for popping by to read the article. Sarah has gone on to do some incredible things and build a great business since the show.

      • Surface House

        She has indeed, its does’t seem long at all since the show was on, (hard to believe how long it actually has been).
        Great post anyway, thank you! Laura, Surface House