Ana Engelhorn Interior Design is a London-based design firm that brings together the old and the new to create interesting, fresh and unusual interiors for residential and commercial properties. Following the firm’s recognition in the 2019 Leading Designers programme, we sat down with Ana Engelhorn to find out more about her inspiration and design ethos.
Where some designers embrace the pursuit of perfection, Ana sees inspiration in the famed Japanese ‘Wabi-Sabi’ aesthetic, realising that perfection can be found anywhere and in the most mundane of things. This is rather an unusual outlook for someone working in the luxury sphere, where grandiosity, opulence and the avant-garde reign supreme, with alternative perspectives seen as lacking or falling short.
One only needs to look at Ana’s work to appreciate it and understand that a very special talent indeed has nurtured the spaces with a delicate eye for form, lines and function. Ultimately, Ana’s work is all about bringing a sense of authenticity and texture to the forefront, instead of dressing it up and disguising it in rich fabrics and
Achieving Perfection Through Imperfection bombastic colour. Ana is keen to explain this philosophy in more detail.
“Inspired by wabi-sabi, we take a perfectly imperfect approach to bring out a room’s innate authenticity. Celebrating the imperfections found in natural building materials and furniture in its raw state, we especially love working with objects that have a story to tell, which show their beauty with age. Whether the space is old or new, we delight in bringing antiques together with stunning modern pieces. Previously, we worked with private homeowners and hotels across Continental Europe – now I have moved the business to London and look forward to working with new private and commercial clients here in the UK”.
More than anything, Ana is driven by a commitment to delivering exquisite interiors that break the mould and challenge established conventions of the luxury design landscape. Yet, as with all firms in the industry, client service plays a fundamental role in determining the long-term success of any designer – and that’s no exception here. “It is important to deliver projects on-time and on-budget but are equally dedicated to ensuring the process is easy and enjoyable for our clients. We achieve this through a carefully designed, step-by-step process that optimises the design and detailing stages, including the logistical and financial parts of the project. In ever stage, we work closely with out clients, keeping them fully informed of the plans and our progress.”
As ambassadors and expert practitioners to this process, Ana’s team prove themselves a vital part of ensuring that this quintessential client service is carried out at all times, as Ana takes a moment to discuss. “When you come to Ana Engelhorn Interior Design you get access to a whole team of people. Most of the required design skills are covered in-house, but when a project needs certain outside expertise, we are able to draw from a group of carefully selected professionals we are proud to call our team. Our team members are carefully chosen for their like-minded approach to design. I, as the founder, work closely with them throughout the project to ensure we remain firmly aligned on our approach to delivering the agreed design scheme.”
Yet, the design industry is changing, widening, broadening – welcoming in a whole host of different styles as people become eager for different rather than the expected. Naturally, this has played right into Ana’s strengths as a designer. She is, above all else, someone who can see the potential, character and history of a space where others may only be tempted to hide it, change it, or damage it. “I think people are ready to move away from the clinical white and beige look towards warmer, homelier colours with texture. I have always been struck by interiors that have a sense of character, that have been created though playful curiosity, not a trend. I like to see spaces designed through life experiences and personal taste, which, while beautiful, reflect the client. In other words: feel like homes.”
Ana continues, offering some insight into where the design industry is heading as it moves into the future. “I think the industry as a whole is moving towards a more ethical, sustainable mindset.
My design ethos is based on natural, organic materials, celebrating the beauty in older objects, so from the start I approach all my projects with a sustainable mindset. I use locally-based suppliers wherever possible and prioritise those who make their products in a sustainable, ethical way, using quality materials and respecting the environment as well as the people who work for the company.” This ties intrinsically into wabi-sabi – an appreciation for nature and the innate beauty of simple things.
In her closing comments, Ana expresses her wish to collaborate alongside manufacturers and creators who appreciate this approach to design, and how they can work together to deliver magnificent spaces that push the boundaries on the very meaning of luxury. “As my perfectly imperfect approach suggests, I love it when manufacturers are not afraid to produce something where the finished product is out of their control. I look forward to collaborating with more makers and craftsmen like that!”