The home-grown Croydoner Sarah Akwisombe’s creative career began in music after turning a few heads with her bold and lyrically controversial style. Since then she has gone through a fascinating transformation, reinventing herself as an interior designer yet maintaining her bold personality throughout. Having worked with various companies such as M&S, Dwell, Habitat and DFS, we caught up with Sarah to get some insights on the creative industry, her love for Croydon and top tips for furnishing a micro-apartment.
Tell us about your journey into interior design, how did you arrive at this career path, was this what you always set out to do?
No, it wasn’t! I started out in the music industry but I’ve always been multi-passionate about anything creative. I started realising I was really interested in set design for films and music videos – and as soon as I got my own place in South Croydon – my husband and I set about redecorating it. That process really helped me to realise how much I loved it and I wanted to start blogging about it.
You have gone through a number of different creative roles in your career – what advice would you give to someone starting out in the creative industries?
No matter which creative path you choose, whether you are successful or not generally comes down to one thing – you need to become known as the go-to person for a certain style or approach. So you have to do one thing really well, at least to begin with. That’s how you become memorable and stick in people’s minds.
What would you say drives your creativity and made you want to move from a career in music to interior design? Have you always had a creative side to you?
Yes! I love being creative whether it’s music production, photography or art. I think I’ll probably be one of those people who tries different things throughout their career but has the same vibe throughout. I would say the vibe of my music is quite similar to my interior design style and so on. I’m pretty “No BS”, so no matter the subject, I always talk about it in a really down to earth, relatable way. I think that’s down to being from Croydon!
What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m on a photography course, which is really interesting. I’m learning about loads of different styles of photography, from street style to documentary and still life. It’s been great to take my creative ideas and then apply them to a different field. I’ve also just started a creative collective called raider_zero with two of my mates who are also from Croydon. We work with brands to help tell their story in a really fun and creative way, so it’s been exciting to launch that.
As a Croydon dweller, you will be aware of the transformation that Croydon is undergoing at the moment. What is it that you love about Croydon?
I love the no-nonsense vibe that Croydoner’s have. We’re real people, you know. I’m also loving the transformation of the town. Croydon had lost the energy that it had back in the day but new developments, bars and restaurants are bringing it back. From a design (and food) perspective, Boxpark is great. It’s got a big open area in the middle so you end up sitting and chatting with people you’ve just met. It’s a really chilled and inclusive space.
What is your top tip for first-time buyers looking to furnish their new micro-apartment?
Look for items that have a small base. You might love that floor lamp but if it has three legs that stick out in various directions, it’s going to take up valuable floor space. Think about where you can create extra storage. Ottoman beds, sofas that are on legs so that you can slide stuff in and out from underneath and extendable console-to-dining tables are a great idea.
Also, pieces that are light in colour or glass will help light to move around the space and stop furniture feeling bulky. My final tip is DON’T shy away from colour! I see so many people worried about colour or wallpaper etc because they think it will make a small apartment look smaller. Let me just say this… a small apartment won’t look any bigger just because you’ve painted it white, so let yourself have fun with it. It’s your first home and it should be a representation of everything you’ve ever been excited about in terms of decorating. Don’t let colour scare you!
VIDEO: Sarah talks about her ‘micro’ designs for Habitat