A former Norfolk lass, Anji Connell now works and lives in bustling & vibrant Hong Kong. She has been an internationally recognised interior architect and designer since 1986, and worked in the UK before her move to Hong Kong in 1989. Eventually setting up her own practice, Anji has had a long and varied career and enjoys an extensive client list that encompasses both commercial, residential and marine projects. The LuxPad talks to Anji to find out more about Hong Kong life, her influences and what her top interior design tips are…
Did you always know that you wanted to work in interior design, and what were your earliest influences?
I always knew I wanted to work within a creative industry. I’m not sure where this came from, as certainly no one in my family was involved in the design business. The closest would be my mum, she was on the stage as a child, singing, dancing, and, a gifted pianist. My youngest brother has inherited that gene. I relished art, design and photography at school. I was always designing and creating things, clothes, knitwear, papier-mâché, jewellery, cakes, and sweets. I remember making an orange towelling bikini….Ouch! You name it and I made it. I also had the tell-tale sign – a love of perfection! I was forever changing my parents’ house around, and plumping up cushions as soon as someone moved!
Living in Hong Kong, do you feel your tastes and style as a designer have changed / been influenced by the country?
This is my second stint in Hong Kong. My first began in 1989. My husband and I came out to Hong Kong for 9 months from London and stayed 11 years! We loved it. We returned again in 2012. I can’t say precisely how being here has influenced my tastes and styles however I’m sure it has in some way, it must have. It has for sure introduced me to different cultures and opened the door to different experiences.
How would you describe your own home style and what is your favourite object within your home and why?
My style is best described as modern eclectic, mixing styles, materials and textures. I am quite a minimalist with a definite less is more approach. I love unusual, sculptural pieces and contemporary art. I have been collecting since 1989, especially Chinese Contemporary art, and they would have to be my favourite objects. I find that perfection in the details, in the shell can give me as much satisfaction and enjoyment as an object or a designer piece. A perfectly smooth rendered wall, smooth concrete finish, a perfectly executed joint… there is such beauty in them…
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
What do you think are the three most important qualities any budding interior designer should possess?
Organisational skills. An uncluttered mind with the ability to give clear, precise instruction. The ability to plan and manipulate space.
When looking to restyle an interior space what are the three most important things to consider first?
Natural light or lack thereof! Consideration of the space, architecture, and a sense of place. Good lighting an element so often neglected.
Are there any particular interior trends that you are currently a fan of – or any that you are especially avoiding?
I like what I like and I don’t slavishly follow any particular trends however it is almost impossible to avoid them! I like to take a bit of each and weave it together. Comfort, longevity, craftsmanship and provenance are paramount to me.
Alongside interior design work you also regularly write interior features and work in garden design too- what is your favourite medium to work in and why?
Yes, I’m very fortunate that I have such variety in my work. I had the opportunity to retrain. I took time out to think about what I would like to do next and rediscovered my love of design, deciding to add to my existing design skills rather than embark on a totally new career. I decided to study Garden / Landscape design at the Inchbald in 2011 prior to returning to Hong Kong. Once back I designed my new studio space in an old warehouse and amazingly it was shortlisted for 3 international design awards!!! This really increased my profile. I was invited to style for 2 prominent publications in Hong Kong then asked if I would be interested in writing for them too. I have to say I absolutely love both! I can’t say I have a favourite I just love that I have choice and variety in what I do. I have been working in design for more than 25 years now and it’s great to be able to use all of my honed skills.
If there was an eighth day at the end of the week how would you spend the extra day?
Definitely not working! As much as I love design in all its forms, and, very much enjoy doing it, life is for living and there are so many places to visit, things to discover and people to meet. Invariably this involves checking out new design hotels, restaurants and bars though! Increasingly I like to sit back and smell the roses!
What has been your favourite interior design project to date and why?
Without question, it has to be our warehouse in Hong Kong. I love the finish, I love everything about it. I wouldn’t change anything in it. It fits us and our lifestyle perfectly.
For more information about Anji Connell Interior Design (ACID+) and to discover more of Anji’s work head to her website here.