How do you induce emotions with colour? Do you need a special trick? A shamans dance, a special ritual? I decided to meet with Sara Garanty, a well know Swedish interior designer, and talk about her specialty – strong colours.
Hallo Sara! Tell us how you started with interior design?
I started working with interior design seven years ago. Before that I studied the subject in Barcelona for three years, then moved back to Sweden and started working at Designgalleriet. Now I am a freelance designer and stylist. I continue building exhibitions as well and this has been my job now for the past 5-6 years.
Were you very artistic when you were a child?
I remember that my friends always asked me to re-decorate their rooms when I was a child. But I do not think I understood what it was to be an interior designer then. I remember sitting in my class room and thinking: ”Why is this class room so colourless?” At that time in Sweden everything was in wood and not so many colours on the walls. So not a very interesting environment to study in. This is how my colour focus started.
Colours now is my main theme or what I am known for. Which is a little bit controversial in Sweden, where people do not use colours at all – mostly black, white and grey.
And I have been loving the minimalistic Scandinavian style but we have had it for so long now. So for me it was important to step out of that model. I guess since I studied in Barcelona I am influenced a lot by the Mediterranean style.
What do you do when you freelance? Do you design people’s homes?
I do three things – private homes, commercial spaces (offices, hotels), exhibitions for fairs. And I develop a lot of styling for magazines, for example Rum Design and Plaza Interiör. Once a year I also curate my own exhibition Colour Emotions. This year it is at Hallwylska museet and it’s the third year in a row that I am doing it. I put artists together who work with colours – designers, architects, performance artists. Last year it was a Poem Edition and this year it is Broken Illusions. It is all about celebrating life really.
Back to when you started your career – was it hard to get your first projects?
What I say to my students at the Design School (Folkuniversitetet), where I teach, is this:” Continue doing what you love and have passion for, and it will happen!” It sounds like a cliché maybe, but it worked for me.
It was a little bit hard in the beginning to get design projects but after three years it started to happen. And it was just being persistent and not giving up.
I did a lot of unpaid projects in the beginning and I think everyone does this to build a portfolio. Then I think it is also important to have your own distinct style. My signature style is colours. I did a lot of Colour projects and now I am Colours by Sara.
And when you say colours, what do you mean? All stylists work with colours.
I mean strong, bright colours. I designed Room 809 at hotel Scandic Anglais and the design really represents my style. Of course white, black and grey are also colours. But let us say I work with the whole palette of colours. While most stylists only work with white, grey and black in Sweden.
What is it with strong colours that attracts you?
Oh, wow, I can talk very long about colours! I would actually really encourage everyone to work more with strong colours. Colours do influence your health, your moods. We spend so much time in our houses! If you think about it – you go to bed with this colour and you wake up with the same colour. So it influences you much more than you think! The right colours on the wall can help you with what you want to achieve for example.
A saturated blue colour helps you be more creative. If you have blue in the kitchen and eat around this colour, studies show that you will not be so hungry.
Yellow makes you more energized, happy and creative. I would have yellow in a room where you have to work and be creative. Orange wakes you up as well but I would not advise you to have orange where you work 8 hours per day. It can be too much. For the bedroom I would recommend green. It reminds of nature, calms you down and helps you sleep.
What about in the bathroom? What colours would you have there?
In your own bathroom I would go for wood, off white, green, soft colours. But in the guest bathroom I would go crazy, since you will not spend so much time there. I would use stronger colours in the hallway as well, since it is a transitional space.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get a lot of inspiration from performance, dance, art and theatre. Nature inspires me as well. Usually, I take a colour scheme from nature. I think that nothing man-made is as beautiful as nature.You cannot beat nature’s beauty! Now I am very inspired by the seasons. I am also inspired by yoga, I do meditation. My best ideas actually come when I do not try to think of design too hard but when I go inside myself, into meditation and yoga.
What are the colour trends for 2017?
A Norwegian forecaster launched the colour brown as the new 2017 trend in the fall. It can be in terms of terra cotta or in terms of wood. However, interior design always goes one year after fashion. For example, I just listened to the forecast for 2017 from Stefan Nilsson and he says that strong colours are actually coming in now. A lot of patterns as well – mixed colours, mixed patterns. If we compare it to fashion – it is as if you are not making a conscious effort of being well-dressed. You just go to your closet, see what you have and just put something on. Marc Jacobs, for example, promotes such mixing and matching. And I think this will influence trends in the interior as well. More colour blocking, big fields of colours. A little bit inspired by the abstract impressionism like Mark Rothko. Geometric patterns, a little bit Leo Ponti style as well.
Do you have favourite furniture stores that you often work with?
Of course I have my favourites! But it depends on the client.
When I do private homes it is not so much about me, it is about them. I try to find their style and do something that will make my clients feel comfortable in their home because they are going to live there.
Unless I am commissioned to do my style, which is something else. I myself love Italian brands because they have very detailed and well designed products. I like Luca Nichetto and Patricia Aurguiola for example.
Does the client need to approve every little thing you buy or do you just give them the general picture?
It is a lot of back and forth. First I present the Mood board, and then I will try to find the furniture. My clients normally know what they want but they do not know where to find it. So that is also what I am helping them a lot with.
If we came to your home now, what would we find?
My home is very colourful! I am changing things but now I am into strong colours, colour blocking and geometrical patterns.
Do you buy design things second hand?
I love to recycle things and it is also a big trend now. I spend a lot of time on all the fairs around the world. Many things are happening in the recycling area – you do not always need a new chair. Yesterday I went to a company called Interface, and they are making carpets from old fishing nets!
I try to use companies that have a good environmental policy. This is super important for me! We really need to take care of our nature now!
How would you work with a second hand chair for example?
Well, you can repaint it or upholster it, use some new fabric just to freshen it up. It can be fun to do work like that.
If you did not become an interior designer, what would you be?
I don’t want to be anything else in this life. I love my work with interior design, art and styling. But I love dancing, I used to dance Oriental dance. So I would love to have become a professional dancer per haps.
What is your next big project?
When I was at Tallin Design Week last year, with my exhibition Colour Emotions, I met Cameron Sinclair. He is a world famous architect who has been asked by AirBnB to design some houses for them. So he wants to bring my exhibition to LA and I hope that will happen!
© Images by Sara Garanty and Plaza Interiör magazine