Anke Summerhill comes from a furniture background, and went from helping with the family businesses, arco.nl, to founding Minotti London with her husband John. Hailing from Holland, she moved to the UK at age 18 to improve her English and after meeting John the rest as they say is history. Now balancing family life with the pivotal role of creative director she also manages to squeeze in time to buy and refurbish flats in Barcelona, fuelling her love of interior design. Anke chats to The LuxPad about her career and shares her top interior styling tips with us below…
How did you get into the interior design industry?
Totally by accident. I had never really considered it. It evolved over a period of time.
Years ago my family asked me if I could recommend someone in the UK to represent Arco (our family company producing tables, chairs, sideboards etc.), I did not, so my husband and I decided to give it a go ourselves and it has really all grown from there.
Your roots are in Holland but you moved to the UK aged 18, did you find the change in location inspired your interior style in any way?
I think my basic style is very much formed by my Dutch roots but yes, moving to the UK has definitely influenced my style. I find that any travel or move does. New impressions cannot fail to influence you in whatever you do. It opens up your mind. As we continue to travel and explore our style continues to evolve.
As the Creative Director of Minotti London you are involved in various aspects of the company, what do you love most about your role?
Variety. It gives me the opportunity to be involved in so many ways. From deciding on the look of the showroom as each new collection comes out, styling, organizing events, advising on projects to being involved with clients. There are so many aspects, there is never a dull moment and always an opportunity to grow creatively.
The interiors world is such a competitive and demanding market, how does Minotti stay at the forefront?
Minotti London works in collaboration with Minotti Spa and we are incredibly lucky to be working with a great designer, Rodolfo Dordoni, who is behind the timeless Minotti collections.
I think one of the reasons that we are so successful is that although the Minotti collections very much have their own styles, they also have the ability to play key roles in such a diverse range of styles and properties. The sofa seating systems and chairs are extremely versatile and entirely modular. Minotti is a high quality product and we are very proud to provide a comprehensive service when supplying their furniture, this is reflected by very high customer satisfaction. A large percentage of our sales come from returning clients with whom we have built creative, productive relationships built on respect and a collaborative effort to strive for luxury, quality and style.
You refurbish flats in Barcelona for the expat community, where do you find inspiration for new projects?
I am always inspired by the feel of the properties and their surroundings, as well as clients’ taste and preferences.
When I see the property I very often see straight away what I would like to do with it. Obviously I have to adapt to the clients wishes as I want them to be happy and feel very comfortable with their new home.
What do you enjoy most about the interior design process and what do you find is the hardest challenge?
I love it when I see my ideas become reality, when it all comes together. After all the planning, buying, finding just the right accessories, artwork etc. putting it together gives me a thrill every time. Funnily enough this can often also be the most challenging part. I do have moments of self-doubt, I think every creative professional does, worries that I have not got it quite right, that it might not come together the way I thought it would, or that the client is going to hate it. Thankfully, so far the result has always been as desired.
In your opinion, what are three most important things to consider before transforming an interior space?
Light, space planning and a focal point. I think a space needs to show personality or even reflect the personality of the owners.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I am not sure if you could call it a career highlight, but one of our daughters joining me in the business has definitely given me a thrill. Nienke is a hugely creative person. Her enthusiasm is inspiring. Apart from that my highlights are happy, satisfied clients who have been a pleasure to work with and are delighted with the finished product. It gives me a wonderful feeling every time, it is very satisfying when you get it right.
Can you describe your perfect day off?
That is super easy. That would be a day on a boat on the med with the family. Just lazing, reading, swimming and a glass of wine or two. Alternatively a perfect powder day on the slopes, again with the family, finishing off with a cosy dinner in front of the fireplace.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Probably still very much doing the same thing as I am now, I love what I do. I am very privileged having a job that I truly enjoy, and to be working with a fantastic young and enthusiastic team.
Maybe a slightly less hectic work schedule and a better balance between work and time off as I can get carried away when working on a project and forget to go to bed.
I am hoping that over the coming years I can help Minotti London grow and develop as a business and a brand.