We always talk about loving what you do here at List for Life. Following your passion is the most important thing in the world and you have to go with your instincts. That is exactly what interior designer Anouska Lancaster did and it’s completely paid off.
Read on to find out more about her incredible and inspirational story about doing what she’s loved from a young age and turning her passion into her own successful business Noushka Design. She followed her instincts against all odds. Prepare to be inspired!
1. How did you get into the design world?
Ever since I can remember, I have always been passionate about art and design. My earliest memories as a child are of me drawing cartoons and illustrations. My parents were hugely encouraging of my talent early on, and would enter my drawings for competitions and put them forward for local events.
I grew up wanting to be a cartoonist. I was totally obsessed with shows in the 80’s and would rarely be seen without a pen and paper. I think you are born with natural artistic flair; I don’t think it can be ‘taught’. You either have it or you don’t.
Getting into interior design was a natural progression for me. My art and design passion remained with me growing up, but entering new phases of life such as buying a home; and having a family, threw me into unknown territory. It was at this time that I called on my key skill set for a new and challenging phase in my life.
2. Why did you decide to found Noushka Design?
I decided to found Noushka Design as I bored of seeing non-descript interiors. Interiors that were were lifeless, that were dull, and that didn’t tell a story. I often use fashion as a parallel when it comes to explaining my philosophy on interior design. You should dress your house, like you dress yourself. I rarely see anyone going out top to toe in grey cotton, without an accessory or even a handbag. What you wear speaks volumes about your personality, your individuality and your sense of style. Your interior should do the same.
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Another reason for setting up Noushka Design was to break down some of the stigma. Interior design is one of those phrases that automatically creates a sense snobbery, of exclusivity, and the common misconception that it’s purely for the rich, famous or wealthy. Interior design is not something that should be class related or wealth related. It is something that everybody should be able to embrace and be involved in.
3. What has been the biggest “pinch me” moment of your career so far? Have you always followed your instincts?
Winning ‘Best London Club’ at the London Club and Bar Awards for one of my nightclub designs is probably the proudest moment of my career so far. Not because of the accolade, I’ve been nominated and had far greater achievements since then, but because of the significance of that one particular stepping stone in my career. It was the first time that I didn’t listen to anyone else’s opinion, followed my instincts and didn’t even attempt to conform to the notion of ‘what it was expected to be’. I was bold and brave, vigorously sticking to my guns against all the odds. I ignored the raised eyebrows and the shaking heads, work men looking at me as if I was a lunatic as they painted the ceilings lime green.
To put it simply, I somehow found the inner confidence and followed my instincts against all the odds.
Of course when I won the award, the naysayers tried to take full credit, and made out that they’d fully supported me and contributed to the end result. What I am trying to say is, stick to your guns and be true to what you feel.
4. What would be your advice for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Be prepared to work for free. In the beginning; I worked for free so that I could gain experience and create a portfolio of work. Don’t be selective about the work you take on. Accept anyone who is willing to pay you or give you an opportunity.
If possible try and support yourself financially through other means whilst you get your business up off the ground.
Network and meet people. Set up accounts on social media. It is a great way of networking as well as collating ideas. Join a small business club, and enroll onto a ‘business starter course’. I have done numerous additional courses at the KLC in Chelsea on subjects such as ‘how to run your own business’. Recognize your weaknesses and work on them. These will only drain your confidence and hold you back.
5. How has your background in art helped you launch your company?
My background in art has helped me profoundly. In all honesty, and as far as I’m concerned, I am still an artist, I am not a designer. I don’t really work in a conformed way. I don’t follow rules or work to any sort of format. My designs simply evolve layer by layer, just as a painting would.
Passion is key to all my designs. Being an artist has given me my own identity; a confidence in my own style and creativity. My ethos is to encourage each and every one of my clients to reach deep inside and identify their own distinctive style and individuality. An artist tells a story and dictates an intimate message through their work. Your interior should be your personal message; and be your unique story.