Handmade or hand-selected, we're proud to support exquisite craftsmanship and specialist skills. Join us as we sit down with artisans, curators and designers in our Meet The Designer series.
London based interior stylist Anna Mackie draws on her diverse experience to create beautiful, contemporary lifestyle imagery for a portfolio of high-end clients ranging from Anthology to Lombok. Inspired by a love of materials, colour, form, and texture her work is a dramatic combination of carefully selected fabrics, sleek finishes, and moody colours. An ideal counterpoint to warehouse homes. We sit down with Anna to discuss trends, technique and what it’s really like behind the scenes of a photoshoot.
What is an Interior Stylist?
Being an interior stylist is about transforming what might be an ordinary product into an image that tells a story in a beautiful, considered and unique way. The purpose is to show the products in their best light, whilst channelling the brand or magazines vision. A stylist knows how to compose an image taking into account style, material, colour, texture, and form.
My work involves styling images for brochures, web, social media, magazines and design installations as well as displays for showrooms and exhibitions. It may look like the dream job but it requires huge ambition, determination, energy, optimism, and organisation as well as creativity. You have to be up for getting messy, doing almost anything and jumping into action the minute a job comes in. It’s sourcing the perfect props, finding the perfect location, arranging couriers, catering, accommodation, planning each set up and tiny detail to a tee, resourcing a team of set builders, photographers, and assistants and constantly liaising with the clients, upholsterers, curtain and cushion makers and prop makers to make sure everything is going to meet the deadline within budget, whatever it takes.
What type of clients do you work for?
So far my clients have mainly been luxury interior brands (wallpaper, paint, fabric, furniture, lighting, bedding, accessories) but I’ve recently started working more widely for fashion, beauty, jewellery and even food and beverage brands.
Do you have a signature style? How would you describe it?
Not really! As an interior stylist you have to work with so many different styles and by nature have to be a chameleon. If I have to pinpoint a particular look I am drawn to the most it would be a touch of mid-century, a touch of industrial-luxe.
What makes a beautiful image?
To me, it’s about the perfect combination and a juxtaposition of elements. Form, texture, material, colours, and pattern. Composition is key and changing the crop can make all the difference as can lighting. I like an element of the unexpected and to combine organic forms with manmade objects. It needs something to be a bit ‘off’ sometimes too. A little rumple in some fabric or randomly placed object often makes an image more interesting.
How did you begin working as a stylist? Tell our readers a little about your career.
I studied fashion and have worked in several different areas of the creative industries; at Net-A-Porter in shoot production, at an online magazine creating video content about art and design and at a trend forecasting agency. I was obsessed with fashion magazines from a young age and I was always intrigued by the set design and fantastical story-telling in editorial shoots and ad campaigns.
I decided to go back to uni and study Interior Design at Chelsea College of Art and at 26 that felt like a risk but I’m so glad I did it as all of the different twists and turns of my career led me to where I am now. After Chelsea, I interned and freelanced at interior design firms on both residential and commercial projects and also assisted on a number of interiors shoots. I knew I wanted to work on the creative not technical side of interiors and eventually landed a job at what is now called Style Library where I started assisting and on the styling of shoots and displays for their showrooms. I went freelance last May and haven’t looked back!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Some days are spent frantically resourcing set builders and briefing them whilst running around London propping and googling random props I need to find. Others are spent at my desk researching locations, conceptualising ideas, liaising with potential clients and PRs and updating my website and blog. If I’m prepping for a shoot I may be driving to recce a couple of locations, visiting prop houses and returning emails on my phone about all the different aspects of the shoot.
What is it like behind the scenes on a photoshoot?
Fun! Often all self-respect goes out the window as you run around a large location property sweating or are crammed into a tight space with a photographer to get the perfect angle. There’s usually lots of food, all sorts of people, hundreds of props in various shapes and sizes and a hell of a lot of bubble wrap!
Being a stylist often means you have a sneak peek at next season collections - do you have any tips for 2018 interior trends?
I think more unusual bold colour combinations are on the way. I’m loving tomato red and bright green. Darker walls are big right now, but I foresee bolder and brighter. We need it!