How did you get into set design?
When I was at uni in Brighton studying Illustration, we went on a class trip to New York. One of the designers we visited was Andrea Purcigliotti, who introduced us to her mentor, a set designer called Ron Norsworthy who’d worked with Hype Williams. Hearing their paths made something click in my head. I’d been making films involving lots of costumes and oversized props and had never really worked out how it could go anywhere. That studio visit allowed me to see a place for what I was doing. I went back to New York that summer to work with Andrea on a reality TV show in the Bronx. That was over 10 years ago.
Where might we have seen your work?
I’ve worked with many fashion brands (Hermes, Miu Miu, Selfridges, Nike) and tech brands (Google, WeTransfer, Squarespace). I try to mix it up between still-life and motion, large site-specific installations or windows, and a lot of self-directed projects. I get excitement out of new challenges, scales, and materials.
Tell us about your creative process. How do you approach a brief?
The projects I work on are quite open, brief-wise, so I get to have lots of creative freedom. I have a backlog of ideas or materials I’d like to incorporate and use this to develop sketches and mood boards to share with the client. Once the designs have been agreed, I move into production where I work with fabricators to create whatever we are building.
What are your favourite objects and materials to work with?
I’m a materials freak! I love working with new things and get really obsessed. Part of it is working with people who work in that material day after day; the masters of their craft. I love handing something over and not always being 100% sure of where the process will take it – it’s always a happy surprise. I’ve gone through phases with neon, flocking, terrazzo, powder coating, carpet, concrete. Right now, I’m into high-gloss lacquer, anodized metal, large-scale ads and the structures they sit on, and motion graphics – from basic pound-shop LED signage right up to hyper-real renders.
What do you do if you feel stuck in a rut?
I go and hang out with my Mum in Deptford and go to the market. I love the thrill of not knowing what we will find. Failing that, I go to the studio and start making something. Even if it’s awful, there is usually something in it that can spark a new idea.
Who inspires you currently as a set designer?
Oh, so many great set designers out there! David White, Es Devlin, Bonsoir Paris, plus those doing amazing build-outs like Hotel Creative and Emil Dervish. Also, NY design studio Jumbo, who I got to work with on a project for Squarespace.
Where is your studio – and why did you choose this neighbourhood?
My studio is on the Stoke Newington–Stamford Hill border. I’ve leased the unit for 8 years and share it with other artists and designers Hattie Newman, Sarah Parker and Annie Collinge. They are the best for bouncing ideas off and we have a street party once a year.
If there was a fire, what are the first things you’d grab and why?
My dog, Beans. She’s an 11-year-old Staffie and the most cuddly, lovely dog. Then I don’t know about grab, as it’s really heavy, but my Ettore Sottsass Casablanca sideboard. For the first 3 months of owning it, I couldn’t look at it without feeling shy. I still can’t believe I own it.
What are you working on at the moment?
Around the usual commercial work, I’m working on some personal projects involving inflatables and wobbly things and I have a couple of film/animation projects that I’m desperate to get off the ground.