Anna Burles, Run for Hills London
Run for the Hills London
  1. What inspired you to become an interior designer?

    When I was a little girl I used to re-organise my bedroom every few months and paint it a different colour every year. I went on to be a journalist in my twenties and then became an event stylist in my thirties, but I was still searching for my dream career. And then I had an epiphany moment working on an art project in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That full blown interior design was the thing I wanted to do. So I went back to school at the ripe old aged of 37 and retrained professionally as an Interior Designer. I’ve been running my design studio for seven years now, since graduating and have a team of 10 working across commercial and residential interior design, so I finally found my thing.


  2. What areas of art and antiques are you interested in and how does this influence you at work?

    For me it’s less about the specific area or period an item is from, and more about the item itself. I tend to pick out the quirky pieces that tell a story, that provide a talking point and add humour to a space. For example I sourced a large French wooden architectural model that would have been used to explain the architects' proposals to their client, dating back to the C18th, which is now mounted on the wall of one of my celebrity Clients homes, in place of a ‘traditional’ piece of art or wall hanging.  It’s an amazing piece. We love all antiques and vintage pieces, whether they’re a premium, collectable piece or a costs almost nothing quirky object or prop or accessory which comes from a flea market or antiques fair. Mixing and matching them can add the most amazing final touches to your designs. Sometimes we find the perfect piece to ‘fit’ our design scheme. Other times we find a piece and then build some scheme ideas around it. We love Art Deco and mid century, but also some more brutalist and modernist pieces too. And everything in between. 

  3. Are there any specific sources, trends and historical eras that you often draw inspiration from?

    Working with different Clients, all with their own preferences, we tend take their lead for each project, grounding our initial thinking in periods and eras they like. But also pushing their boundaries into exploring different eras, styles and colour palettes.  Or mixing and matching them in new and interesting ways, to create unique pieces. I am always drawn towards mid-century lighting with elements of brass and lashings of glamour.  We designed and commissioned a fantastic hero chandelier (made for us by light-maker Timothy Graves) for one of our restaurant projects. Which was inspired by some antiques we had purchased for the project. Which we referenced in the new piece, but gave it a modern twist. 

  4. There has been a trend towards mixing old with new in the past decade, has this helped you in your advice to clients?

    Yes, I love mixing things up and Clients are very open to it. The juxtaposition between old and new adds character and credibility to a design. The most stylish of fashionistas rarely dress in top to toe designer wear, they almost always combine designer with high street and vintage. An age old combination which works wonders and creates a truly unique look which can’t simply be replicated by buying the same ‘suite’ of things from a shop or gallery. 

  5. What top tip would you have for those interested in sourcing and adding antiques to their home?

    Get out there to the wonderful and regular antiques markets and flea markets, which happen up and down the country every two weeks. You can often find the best things at quite amazing prices and you get to touch them and feel them up close and personally. Plus you get to see a huge range of items in one place at an antiques fair - rather than having to traipse around the whole of London to lots of different galleries, shops and markets.  But do also look in vintage shops and online.  There is so much out there to choose from, but don’t feel overwhelmed, and don’t worry if it takes time to find the right pieces.  The best, most characterful homes are the ones that have evolved over long periods. You might find lots of pieces all at once, or you might only add a new piece or two every year. A home filled with 'one off’ pieces, all of which have a story to tell are the most interesting homes of all. Or those packed full of the latest trends, which look great now but will date so quickly. High street design and high end design can be so homogenous, and we often see things we’ve seen before in people’s homes, restaurants and members clubs. The most inspiring places add genuinely unique pieces into the mix to create something much more refreshing and original. Which begs to tell its story. A lot of antiques and vintage pieces are also just ‘better made’ than new lower priced furniture, so buying antiques can also be a great way to inject genuine quality into your home. Which will last really well.