Hello! Can you tell us about yourself? I’m Nicola, owner of Nicola Holden Designs, a…
Hello! Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Nadya Savannah Sawney and I design interiors, or should I say rooms speak to me so I may enhance them! I am a sole trader and have a solid directory of fine contractors to call on …depending on what the job requires.
My clients are varied but mainly creative people working within industries they love. It is always interesting working with a very creative client because you can reach into design contradictions that really can and do inspire…and work!
My thought process on each project begins with this:
“You may not think of a room as a single living organism, but it is. It has its own temperature, volume, mood – and these are in constant flux.“
Doing Interior Design is by far the most rewarding work ever! I have worked in the Music and Television industries and have been involved in a multitude of super special times in those past careers, but nothing compares to the reaction of joy I receive from my clients when they see their finished project for the first time. It is truly fabulous and a privilege to create for others.
What’s your backstory and what attracted you to design?
Most of my childhood was spent living in my best friend’s 10 bedroom country house in a beautiful village in Oxfordshire. I always loved rearranging the furniture in the drawing room and would do so often! I left school early to go to Equitation School, and then had a complete career change when I went to work for a Rock Star in his country manor house in Gloucestershire. Once again I was surrounded with interior beauty as the house was alive with stunning decor.
Moving to Los Angeles, then New York, and back to the UK, my creative energies drank in my surroundings. But it was years before I decided interior design is where my true love resides.
My first project was for myself and my Husband. We had an extension built and I project managed the build and designed the interiors. I then created my website using that project’s pictures, and the phone started to ring with enquiries, which lead to commissions.
My qualification for running a build was my production experience gained throughout the years I worked in television. Project Management is all about being organised. Whenever my contractors talked to me about aspects of the build I did not understand I asked them to talk to me as though they were explaining the process to a child. That way I ‘got it’ and countless times I was able to then offer creative solutions to design issues that came up. I still do this. I learn something new on every renovation and or refurbishment.
Never be afraid to ask questions. The one thing all contractors moan about is working with Interior Designers who cannot make a decision on site and on the spot. Not only does it hold up the contractors, it also leaves very little room for trust and respect from them to you. Once you get contactors on your side, most will go out of their way to give their all to achieving your vision, and therefore manifesting your clients dream.
1st project: New Build Extension
What do you love most about designing?
‘Reading’ the room, translating its potential, and creating the outcome for my clients.
Who, for you, has been the most influential designer/designers?
Two of the most influential designers for me are ..without any hesitation…. Anouska Hempel and Ralph Lauren.
When I worked in the Music Business I spent several months at Blakes Hotel in South Kensington, London, where two of the band I was working for were living. Anouska Hempel owns and designed Blakes and she was creating interiors in the mid-seventies that would not only stand the test of time today, but would still create and perform interior magic. Her work is outstanding, individual and awe inspiring. There are few that touch her style and feel.
Ralph Lauren is also an interior designer whose work is stunning. Once again, like Anouska Hempel, Ralph Lauren oozes style and feel in his interiors. He too is wonderfully creative with fabrics & colour, and invites contradictions. Ralph Lauren interiors caress you within inspiration.
I am all about expressing “feel” in my interiors. Without “feel”…it is just another ‘designed’ room. My intention is to express “feel” and uniqueness in all I create…no matter the budget.
Howard style sofa & cushions I sourced for a client. Nina Campbell fabric on the sofa with Ralph Lauren Shams & Cushions.
Where/how do you find inspiration for new designs?
What inspires me? The space and my client.
Often clients would have seen a designed room either in a friend’s home, or more likely than not ..on Pintrest. They may have fixated on certain items and or wall colours and want that too. My job is to show them their room (s). What I mean by that is most people do not actually ‘see’ the room in its entirety. Usually it is features that they see. So I set about showing them how the room could feel and look by only giving them options that will work.
I loathe trends. Trends create limitations. I am all about interiors being fluid and timeless.
I know when it’s all coming together because one design decision flows into the next.
Should I come to a grinding halt in my design intuitive journey, I stop and go do something else. It only means I have gone off track and I am no longer hearing my creative energy.
Describe your approach to functionality v aesthetics.
Ha! Functionality v aesthetics.
Personally I cannot bear a room to be designed with items that counter functionality. How many times do I hear someone say ‘oh that cost thousands’ which translated means: Therefore it must be fabulous..matters not it is uncomfortable to sit on, look at, impossible to move around etc etc!
A room needs to flow. No one item should dominate the space if that room is a place you and your family want to live in and enjoy.
It is crucial however that your client feels they are getting what they love and chose to have. Showing them beautiful alternatives is key. However.. if you cannot persuade them that the big ugly red designer pod chair really looks hideous in their drawing room ..then run for the hills!
Describe your approach to choosing/using colours.
Choosing colours is all about what works for the room, and of course the client has to be on board with your suggestions too. This is where trends are so dangerous. Trends say ‘the colour this season is…etc etc…that is limiting choice.
Wall paint colour is crucial as it forms the foundation to your design. My personal preferences are colours that work for the room, but I also do recommend that small rooms and/or halls look simply fabulous with a dark colour on the walls as opposed to a lighter colour. Dark wall colour does not make a small room look smaller, likewise a light colour will not make a small room look larger. A strong colour will allow the space to say ‘I may be small but I look amazing!’
How are green awareness and the increasing popularity of eco-friendly products affecting the design process(now, and in the future)?
I love the idea of recycling. Indeed antique furniture is recycling at its best, although antiques seem to be excluded in many interiors that one sees. But re-fashioning almost anything is possible with a great carpenter and decorator to hand. Eco-friendly paint is fast becoming a ‘must have’ and I have used it but I must admit ..based on the shade that I was after rather than the paint content.
As the shades are getting more and more fabulous, Eco paint is making a substantial impact in the marketplace which can only be a good thing for us all on many levels.
What do you like to hear people say when they view your work?
What is your all-time favourite design (yours)?
I love all my projects in equal measure but one that is really special (because it incorporated my careers past and present) was a recording studio I did for a super successful Grammy Award winning Record Producer, for his studio in London. He also commissioned me to do his recording studio in the grounds of his country house which I recently completed.
What is your all-time favourite design (someone else’s)?
Oh gosh…any Anouska Hempel and Ralph Lauren interior. Their ability to capture a room’s essence. Their ability to draw you in on the whole room and then you notice all the details. I love that. Interior Design is all about the details BUT the details should never take over the room.
Through real-life design projects, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When your client’s husband/wife, and/or partner gets involved in the design process, that can be very challenging. I just remember that the job is not a competition. It is a commission to deliver the best interior design for the space and for the client.
Good decisions are decisions made without hesitation.
If you are also project managing, always make sure the contractors are never waiting for materials.
Never give your contractors any reasons to stop working.
Always stand up for your design details.
Be firm, be kind but never tolerate bad time keeping or laziness on site from any of the workforce.
Sense of humour is so very helpful! I have a great sense of humour and have had side splitting moments with my contractors on every job I have done thus far. Things can get tense, especially towards the end of a job. A good dose of laughter will always dissipate stress and get the vibe back on track.
Advice for readers who want to redesign their homes/workplaces?
Never test paint colour directly onto a wall. Use A4 white sheets of paper and cover with your paint choice. Do several sheets and apply them to the wall with masking tape (so as not to damage the wall) in various areas so you can see how the light affects the colour. Remember..ceilings are walls too! They do not always have to be white!
Mistakes I see often:
Furniture items that fight each other for space.
Over-designed rooms that are filled with lovely pieces but because there are too many of them..it all gets lost in the translation.
Furniture, lighting and artwork need to support each other in a room. Otherwise you end up with a space that feels hard and uninviting.
What interesting projects are you working on right now? And what does the future look like?
I have just finished my last project before Christmas. Next year we are moving to the Isle of Wight, so I am really looking forward to getting to know folks on the island. It is my intention to get nadya sawney interiors known there, so as to transform homes and inspire my new friends and clients. I will always be available for work on the mainland too.
Goal for my design work?…to be included in the Andrew Martin Interior Designer of the Year Awards.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Email: email@example.com