The Designers' Advisor Asks: Ana Engelhorn

Ana Engelhorn

Ana Engelhorn Interior Design

Born in Switzerland, with Spanish and German roots, founder and creative director Ana Engelhorn incorporates her international background and interests in travel and art into her exquisite interiors. Having received her interior design certification from The Professional Design Institute, she has worked across Continental Europe for the past several years, with her designs featuring in a variety of prestigious UK and Spanish magazines and newspapers. Now based in London, Engelhorn is excited to meet new clients and share her energy and ideas on how to live better with the old, the renewed and the new.

Ana Engelhorn
Photography by Hector Jensen Pie

As an interior designer or brand, how has the pandemic affected your work?

I have been quite lucky as I have a project that started in late January, which needs to be completed by the end of July. The client is quite keen for me to do everything I can to keep things moving, which has meant a steady income stream. However, the pandemic has made me speed up the process, especially ordering FF&E. I have also had to mix the design phase with implementation. I would not usually do this, but in the circumstances, I have listed out each room and other areas like lighting and curtains in order of importance, and as soon as I have one of the areas decided, I get the client to sign off. I have had to change some suppliers and some lead times have increased, but all in all I am pretty satisfied.

Further to that, how have you responded to the challenges? What measures have you put in place to not only ensure safe practices but to safeguard your business?

Even before the crisis, I was working largely on my own in my home office, so there’s been little change to my day-to-day working environment (if you discount the children at home!). For site visits that are strictly necessary, I stick to the government’s guidelines on social distancing. Once building work commences, I will need to do more site visits, so will continue to keep abreast of the latest government recommendations. I will trust the contractor to look after his workers and ensure he has a plan in place should an employee become ill.

We are all trying to find silver linings to this crisis. Some are finding more time to be creative – with or without children! – to think about issues in a different way, to explore a new skill or to improve an existing one. What has been your experience so far in terms of creative thinking and output?

I wish I could say I’ve found time to do more creative thinking or explore a new hobby. It has been challenging to balance family life, the COVID situation and a full-on workload. I feel a lot of pressure to make this project work, so am focussing on it as much as possible. Once the biggest wave of work is over, my plan is to take masterclasses to improve in areas I might be lacking. Nevertheless, I am a business owner as well as a designer, so it is a given that I keep on doing my marketing, finances and admin.

Trying to stay on a positive note, we’d love to hear about any benefits you may have discovered amidst the difficulties?

On a positive note, not being able to go to restaurants is keeping me healthier, and not being able to travel lets me rest more and gives me more time for leisure. Furthermore, I believe that hardship makes us stronger. I am hopeful that when we come out of this situation, we will all be a bit wiser and more resilient. Things might seem awful now – and they truly are, most especially for those in hospital suffering from the disease and for the key workers on the frontline, and for those fearing for their livelihoods – but when we get past this, I truly believe it will have made us better as people.

Looking ahead to the future, when this pandemic is behind us, we’ve been thinking about how this enforced shutdown might be an opportunity to do things – personally, professionally and as a society – a bit differently. We’re thus interested to know how, if at all, you might take your own business forward in a new way?

From an interior design perspective, I think people will be more inclined than ever to make their home a haven. The home will be seen more as a place to take refuge and relax and hang out in, than as a depot where we dump our belongings and sleep. With this enforced time at home, I think people will start noticing the cracks in their surroundings more and will think about how to fix them. Speaking of silver linings, I envisage a lot of work coming in our direction!

Many thanks to Ana Engelhorn

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