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CovetED’s Exclusive Interview With Interior Designer Celia SawyerFriday 26 July 2019
Written by André Martins
Celia Sawyer is a true inspiration as a woman, entrepreneur and interior designer. Having the opportunity to inspire the world with her architectural and interior design projects, CovetED Magazine had the wonderful opportunity to get an exclusive interview with the designer, getting a more intimate approach to her own experience and inspirations. Discover more about her incredible contemporary project here!
Celia, you come from such humble beginnings. From dental nurse to an Interior Designer, you’ve built a multi-million-dollar business. How did it all start?
I started a business some years ago in Photography, where I was an agent for new up and coming photographers which I went into because I was always interested in art and photography as a young girl. I was very good at art at school and to do something that was creative for a business was essential to me. Once I had saved up enough money, I went on to buy a property in London which I ended up refurbishing and adding another floor. It was my first design project and was very exciting. Once finished, people came to see it and then asked me to work on their projects, and from then on I built up a clientele which just kept growing and growing, they seemed to love what I did! I founded my interiors company after this which has now been going for over 20 years.
You’re now a true inspiration not only for young women but for every young people who dare to dream a little higher. But, do you think that being a woman, in the early years of your career, felt like an impediment or a created some kind of drag in your career?
It isn’t easy being a woman in business, generally it is still a man’s world, however, it didn’t put me off, you just have to use your feminine charms and learn how to deal with men, a bit like being a parent, learning to deal with children!!!
Building a career like yours must have had its ups and downs. Building such an influential name for yourself, what do you think was your biggest obstacle to overcome?
The credit crunch was a bad time, and in these times you can become desperate and start to think of diversifying and changing your level of clientele, however, I got through it, even though it was a leaner patch, and I am so glad I kept working with the same level of client, it is easy to make the wrong decisions when things get tough, so I am grateful that I stuck with my gut feeling.
You’ve won countless awards: Woman of the Year 2013, Top 100 Most Influential British Entrepreneurs and Top 250 Most Powerful Women Leaders. Being one of the most notorious and successful women and entrepreneurs in the UK, what you think is the key to your success?
It is persistence for sure, you just cannot give up and nothing is easy otherwise everyone else would be doing it if it was, but you need to believe in yourself and listen to wise people around you and of course work very hard.
But your career and accomplishments are transcendent to various areas. Is much more than the interior design itself and you’re also a television personality. How’s the experience of being in front of the cameras?
It was a scary experience at first, and one of my biggest fears, however, I was determined to overcome it. Wise people tell you to do something that scares you every day!
We’ve come across a funny story about how you got to be on “Four Rooms” on Channel 4. Do you mind sharing a bit of that story with us?
I literally was looking on my computer and there was an advertisement for people to send in interesting and unique objects for the show, so I sent in a photo of myself to the production company and said how about me as one of your dealers, as I had seen the first series and knew what it entailed, and the production company called me the next day! I must say I was a bit wooden at first in front of the camera, however, I soon became much more relaxed and started to enjoy the experience.
Before “Four Rooms” you were also a dealer of art and collectables. Do you think your passion for those objects influences your designs and aesthetic?
Yes sometimes, but it is more that I want to find interesting objects to go into people’s homes, something unique that says something about them and how they live.
Nowadays, your clientele is very high-end and VIP orientated. Was it always your dream to design for those type of clients?
Yes, it was, and I have recently contacted President Trump to see If he would like me to design his new helicopter!!! Nothing fazes me, to be honest, I have worked for Royalty, and some very wealthy clients, but I also enjoy working for property developers and working on smaller commercial projects where you can inject some passion with your design to make a project outstanding.
And what about your inspirations. Where do you go for stimulation?
Nature inspires me the most, I love looking at the way the grass blows in the wind, for instance, and the shadows it creates in the sun, which inspires me to look for a beautiful silk rug or create striking pools of light in my design.
Your passion and dedication are visible in every design aesthetics. Until now, what was the project that brought you more joy and sense of accomplishment?
I think it was the helicopter I designed earlier this year, really because it was such a small space to work in, and they tend to always be “beige” so I really had to work out how to make this look incredible within the regulations, and also the small space I had. I had already designed an aircraft but somehow because it was so small it was more of a challenge.
Your work keeps inspiring the interior design community. What does the future hold for Celia Sawyer?
I think I would like to work in hotels. Not large corporate hotels, but something stylish, boutique and glamorous. I know what people expect in the top level and I get really angry when I go into hotels and there is nowhere near a mirror to plug the hairdryer in, or the lighting is really terrible to do your make up in. Flow and functionality are equally as important as the aesthetics are in Interior Design, so this would be a great area to move in to.
Besides building your name into a brand, Celia Sawyer represents much more than a brand. Supporting numerous charities, you’ve also raised money for “Breakthrough Breast Cancer”, you’re a board advisor for “Football for Peace” and an official ambassador for “The British Heart Foundation”. Who do you become to work with these institutions?
I want to give something back basically. It is good to do charity work, to support people who need help and it makes you much more rounded as a person.
Celia, it has been a pleasure talking with you. Being such an inspirational and successful person, is there any advice or tips you would like to give on how to reach for success?
“Know your outcome”. I was told this years ago, before you do anything, or say anything, know what result you want to achieve at the end of it…. It can really stop you messing up on a phone call or email too, and it is my favourite piece of advice.
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