Welcome to the Mignonnette Tea Talks, where we speak to wonderful women who inspire us and explore what it means to be a modern day enchantress.
Today's guest is the multi-talented Anouska Lancaster - award-winning Interior Designer, TV Presenter, Journalist and Founder of Noushka Design.
Anouska mixes bold designs with intricate details to create homes full of joy. For someone who can transform a cold, nondescript building into a haven of pure delight, she’s the perfect candidate to teach us about enchanting the world around us.
Anouska, how did you discover your passion for interiors and get started on this path?
I actually trained as an artist and didn’t start working in Interior Design until after I’d had my two children. I discovered that Interior Design was an incredible vessel for expressing myself through colour and pattern. Being an Interior Designer has many similarities to being an artist – being able to layer colour, shapes and textures onto a blank canvas to create a ‘masterpiece’.
Your business has expanded so much since you started, can you tell us about the different work streams you now have?
My business has really expanded since I started Noushka Design. I started out designing nightclubs and bars in London, then moved onto residential interiors in 2012. Although I won numerous awards and accolades for designing nightclubs and bars, residential interior design is much more rewarding. I get to work closely with ‘real’ people and families and more often than not, these people become close friends of mine. Interior Design is a very personal thing and I feel honoured that my clients not only let me into their homes, but into their lives.
I have just taken on a new job this week which is nothing like anything I’ve ever done before – it’s a commercial space for a ground-breaking initiative – watch this space!
Your home projects are so distinctive, elegant and pure fun - what are the common elements you love pulling together?
My interiors are always joyous and fun! I love to mix colour and patterns layer by layer. I will usually start with a piece of art, a wallpaper or fabric, and then slowly dissect it, pulling out the colours and using these for the other elements of the room. I will then find different patterns and textures in these various colours which I’ll pull together at the end.
Making a house a home means surrounding yourself with things that make your heart sing – colours, patterns, art, collectibles - all of which evoke times in your life or memories.
With Mignonnette London, deeply embedded in the core of our brand, is that when you put our clothes on, they bring our your inner enchantress, you transform. It starts with the design process as a way of telling stories. From the way you describe some of your projects, it seems there are parallels - can you tell us about your process in transforming a space?
I truly believe that your home should reflect your personality and personal style. We should dress our homes as we dress ourselves, so that whoever walks into your home, knows you live there. Dressing your home is no different from dressing yourself really – choose colours and styles that suit you and your personality. It is a lot like wearing your favourite dress, your home should empower you, give you confidence and most importantly, make you happy.
Do you think your clients transform themselves after their spaces have been revamped?
Totally! It’s so rewarding when you see the transformation – not just of the room but of the person living in it. Interior Design is a journey of discovery, and often my clients will rediscover or find themselves during the process. I recently worked with a lady who had just gone through a horrid divorce. At the start of the project, she didn’t know what she liked and where to start. By the end, she was decisive and knew exactly what she wanted, and even started dressing differently as she discovered which colours made her happy and confident.
Do you think through transforming physical spaces for other people and also your own homes, there are elements of yourself that have changed over the years?
I have gained a lot more confidence in myself over the years. In the past, I’d have an idea then allow myself to be talked out it by a builder or by strange looks from a decorator. This created doubts in my mind and in my capabilities. Now, I am confident enough to ignore the naysayers and stick to my guns. I have learned that your gut instinct is always the right one and you should always follow your heart.
What is your your dream project?
My dream project would be to design a boutique hotel, with every room totally different and unique.
Your daily wardrobe is just as gorgeous as your homes. What sartorial styling tips can you share?
I would say that dressing to suit your style and shape are imperative to looking and feeling good. We all have parts of our body we prefer to others, so it’s about showing off your best bits! I am now 43 years old, and I have learned what parts of my body to accentuate to make me feel confident. I will always wear dresses and clothes to show off my small waist as that’s my favourite body part.
I always accessories my outfits, like I do my interior schemes, to make it personal to me. For example, I’ll choose a really bold pair of earrings if the dress is quite plain. If I am wearing a very bold dress, I’ll pair it back with some more refined sentimental jewellery, such as my wedding earrings. Just like with interior design, you have to learn the perfect balance, and decide what is the star of each outfit – the dress, the jewellery or perhaps the bag and shoes. All have to work in harmony together.
What do you love to wear when dressing up and also just relaxing?
I absolutely love dressing up – it's my favourite thing! I am so lucky that I get wear dresses every week as I work in TV. I love events such as Royal Ascot where I can take my dressing up to the next level. I love hats and headpieces and I’m always photographed at Royal Ascot for my OTT headpieces. One year I was on the front cover of The Times for the most incredible headpiece that I wore – it was giant white roses covered in brightly coloured butterflies.
When I am relaxing, I’ll normally be in jeans or a pair of jodhpurs. I adore horse riding, and this is when I can totally relax and dress for comfort rather than style! I usually have hay in my hair and am wearing a pair of muddy boots instead of high heels.
What does style mean to you?
I think style is a very personal thing – you should wear what makes you feel happy and confident, rather than following style trends.
Who are some of your personal style icons?
I love Carrie Bradshaw’s style in Sex and The City. She dresses to please herself and no one else, with bright colours, bold designs and lots of layering. If I dress to impress, then I want to be noticed and for people to comment on what I am wearing. Life is too short to fade into the background and to ‘play it safe’. Kit Kemp (my Interior Design Muse) once told me ‘A successful room is one that people remember’. I believe that your style should be exactly the same.
What’s your favourite Mignonnette dress?
My favourite dress from Mignonette is the Mistress Midnight dress. It was literally made for me. The Mistress Midnight has everything I look for in a dress – a very flattering shape (that cinched waist I look for), an elegant length, puff sleeves (I told you that I like to stand out!), gorgeous fabric, and of course, beautiful colours and a bold pattern. I could imagine wearing the dress to so many occasions from weddings to cocktail parties. Even better, it is easy to pack for travelling. The Midnight Mistress dress is a timeless dress that will stay in your wardrobe forever and will never go out of style. I wore mine with bright pink shoes (my signature colour) to really accentuate my bold style and add a quirky edge.
You can discover more about Anouska and her work at: