Eva Sonaike is bringing colour to life with her print focused designs for the home. Passionate about African fabrics and prints, she created her own label in 2009, focusing on hand finishing, distinctive designs and high-quality finishing. We talk to Eva about her inspirations, home style, and what’s next for the brand...
Who or what inspires you most?
Oh, that’s a tricky question. There is so much inspiration on this planet that I find it difficult to narrow this down. But the people who inspired me the most are my Mum and Dad, who are extremely hard working and both build their own successful businesses from scratch. Both in different industries (my Mum is a paediatrician and my Dad an art historian), but from an early age, I was surrounded by people who had an immense love for their family and a passion for work and combined both with ease. They also both have a love for interior and design, which I grew up with, so they were very supportive and understanding when I launched my company. In terms of my designs, I am very much inspired by my travels around West Africa, which is reflected in all my designs. The colours, patterns, nature, architecture and everyday life in West Africa are so inspiring that I always come back with new ideas from my travels.
Your company’s ethos is 'Bringing Colour to Life', do you have a favourite colour - and are there any colours that you would never use in your home?
My favourite colour has always been a dark dusky pink with a powdery, earthy terracotta tone. I loved this colour as a little girl and still love it now. I had my room painted in this colour when I was a teenager and, as you couldn’t buy it over the counter back then, my Dad helped me creating it myself. We mixed pink with a bit of brown and beige and created the perfect colour! One colour I don’t like in my home is orange. It just doesn’t fit my personality.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
I love the creative freedom I have. Being able to design what I am inspired by and other people liking it and wanting it in their own home feels great.
I also like the fact that as a business owner you have to be able to multi-task and learn about different aspects of the business. No day is the same. I have grown so much since launching the company, both as a businesswoman and personally through the challenges that I had to face and overcome.
What lessons from your time as a journalist did you find the most useful when setting up your business?
I worked as a fashion journalist for a glossy woman’s title, so I had a good understanding of the luxury and premium fashion and lifestyle market and knew what to expect from brands and a PR perspective. I used to get lots of press releases and promotional material each week and knew that brands that stood out, caught the attention of journalists and if they had a great story could make it into the magazines and newspapers. So I worked on my branding before I even launched the brand, which included logo design, packaging and the communication style we would use to represent us. And I also include storytelling in my brand. With every collection, we try to not only highlight the designs, but also the stories that inspired us to create specific designs.
With your background in fashion journalism have you ever been tempted to translate your prints into a clothing line?
No, not at all. I love fashion, but solely as a consumer. When I design I think about spaces and rooms, which is a totally different form than the human body.
Your designs are full of bold patterns and prints, do you have a favourite or if you had to choose just one to keep what would it be and why?
Oh, that would be so difficult. I am going through different phases as a designer and had times when I was feeling bold and loud, and times when I wanted to just create something that fits in. But one of my favourite designs is Aye blue, especially in a pouffe.
Can you tell us about your home style and what your favourite room is and why?
My home is my absolute sanctuary. I love living here. We bought and renovated the house 10 years ago and I am continuously adding and changing bits, as I and my family are constantly evolving. My home reflects the elements of my African heritage with the art collections and my soft furnishings; my German upbringing with the antique- and mid-century furniture and structure (black wooden floors and white walls); and my eclectic London lifestyle. It is a mixture of these three elements. My favourite room is my open plan living room with its sunken dining room/kitchen because that’s where we gather as a family and with friends, we cook, eat and entertain, but I can also relax here by myself with a cup of tea early in the morning or late a night and enjoy the peace and cosiness of this space.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Put on your walking boots and keep going; don’t stop, you will get there in the end.
What does your perfect day off look like?
Does this ever happen? My perfect day off consists of a long and hot shower once the kids have left for school and my husband is gone to work, followed by an extra-long time getting made-up and dressed ( I always rush when I have to go to work). I then go to a cute coffee shop down the road from where I live to meet my friend for brunch and then head into town to visit a gallery or a museum. I then sit down for an hour or so to reflect on life, journal and sketch a little bit before heading home for a hot yoga class and then dinner with my family where we talk about the day and have fun together. Then off to bed with a great book or a bit of Netflix.
What’s in store for Eva Sonaike in 2020?
We are about to launch our first wallpaper collection, which I am very much excited about. A new fabric collection is also coming this spring, with matching cushions including hand-woven fabrics launching shortly after. I can’t talk about details too much yet, but obviously, it will all be colourful with a luxury African vibe.