Alicia Storie is an eco-conscious interior designer who we are were thrilled to talk to at length about her creative process, her distinguished career, and how her time as an interior designer in London, to travelling the world led her to start this new journey as an green interior designer. Alicia creates functional, planet-friendly spaces without compromising on aesthetics. We are thrilled to be partnering with Alicia to offer our customers design consultations to help design their homes. Read our full interview below. Carl - Hello Alicia, and thank you for joining us today. Tell us Alicia, what led you into Interior design? Alicia - So, I would say at an early age I had a passion for art. Then I went to study at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee where I studied art for a year before specialising in interior design because I felt that it really resinated a lot with me. The course that I studied was fantastic and gave a great introduction to interior design and it really went from there. Carl - It has been a very turbulent year for everyone around the world, how has the pandemic affected you? Alicia - So, actually prior to setting up my own business, I was travelling for a couple years. Trying to move towards remote interior design, and be anywhere in the world, not necessarily in an office behind a desk offering interior design. At that stage it was very hard to convince people the value of remote work, but actually the pandemic has flipped that on its head. People now realise you don’t have to be in one fixed location. Carl - How long has your business been running? Alicia - It is fairly new, so I worked in London for 4 years and my business is 1.5 years old. So, still very young. It has been a very exciting journey to transfer the skills that I had before from working within a company into the world of self-employment, but I love it, it is really good fun. Carl - Before we delve into the business you have created, what project have you previously been involved with when working in London? Alicia - In London I worked in a creative studio, so I worked with clients; Expedia (the travel company) I did their offices in London, I worked with Jaguar Land Rovers offices, An innovation centre for the NHS and I also worked on a very vibrant bright hostel with Accor hotels, so quite a range and mix of projects. Carl - So you then moved on to set up your own business. What inspired you to do that? Alicia - Really, when I was working in London, I love my job, but I realised how big a carbon footprint traditional interior design has. So, I began to travel and research different ways to build architecture and interior design in a sustainable way. After learning this, I felt I couldn’t go back to a traditional design role. I chose to go down the journey of mixing design and sustainability together which led me to set up my company. Carl - Fantastic, so what is the secret to the success of your business? Alicia - For me, I really love people. I am quite a sociable person. I think communication really comes down to the core of a successful output in terms of interior design. When I work with someone I ask a lot of questions at the start to make sure we are on exactly the same page and that I create a solution that is completely in line with the expectation and goals for the project. Carl - What does Eco-conscious interior design mean and what is your interpretation of it? Alicia - Essentially I look at 3 main principles when it comes to Eco-conscious interior design. I look at interior enhancements, energy efficiency and waste reduction. Interior enhancement includes looking at the existing space and enhancing on what is already there. So, you add a layer of interior design, rather than designing for the sake of designing, Energy efficiency, I look at the space in general; how it functions, and seeing if there any ways of improving. For example retro-fitting an extra layer of insulation, or for example looking at the experience of the space; location radiators away from door, so that there is less heat loss adding windows and blinds that sort of thing. And then Waste reduction, I look at how can the space function more efficiently to reduce waste. For example I suggest to client that they have a compost bin on site. So they can then take their food waste and compost that in order to create soil for their own gardens. I essentially do consultations as well as interior enhancements to try and make a space as green as possible. Carl - Brilliant, so these are all practical ideas and solutions that customers can do themselves once they have been guided through. What would be the first stages for a customer to begin this process? Alicia - Essentially I can as involved or not involved as the client needs. Some people ask purely for consultation, so they might want to ask questions on how to improve a space. Which works much like this, with a zoom call, there they can pick my brain and ask lots of questions on how to improve the space. Other projects I am very hands on and involved in the whole process. For example I have just finished a B&B deign in balloter, and for that I built a lot of the furniture, I expedited a lot of the tasks myself, I was incredibly involved in the process. So, yeah, it is really entirely up to the person if they want a light touch or full sustainable design service. Carl - Say someone is looking at updating, refreshing or redesigning their kitchen and making it more functional and more in character to their home. What would be the key stages for them or what are the main areas they should consider when doing so? Alicia - Essentially for a kitchen re-model in general, as I had mentioned before, I would always recommend starting with what you already have. Look to see if there are any elements that can be salvaged, and if you are ripping out your kitchen and starting again there are often places where you can sell your kitchen second hand or donate where it then gets reused and that extends the life-cycle of that. Then I always mention to plan your layout with priority. This has a big impact on how you use the space. It is really important that your layout reflects how you would use the space. For example think about where you would like to prep, cook, where you serve things, displays all these different elements. If you start to map out your behaviour in the kitchen then you can plan your layout to reflect that. I would then say to look at your appliances. Can they be reused? If not, try and opt for energy efficient appliances. Seek out second hand materials and furniture, you can choose beautifully textured and reclaimed woods for your kitchen. They are not only kinder to the planet but they also add so much character to your space which is really lovely. Carl - I had read that natural wood is one of the best materials to use in the kitchen. Why would that be the case? Alicia - Wood in general you have to be careful with, but it is a great material. There are certain certifications that you can look out for that show that the wood is sustainably sourced. So if you look for a label that says FSC that means that wood has been sustainable sourced which is great. To be even more sustainable, if you look for reclaimed woods that is even better. As the tree has already been cut down and the wood has been used and now you are repurposing it again instead of that wood being sent to landfill , etc. Essentially yes, reclaimed woods are a fantastic Eco friendly solution for kitchen design, worktops and different elements. Carl - Why would someone use an interior designer and not do these processes themselves? What benefits does using an interior designer bring? Alicia - It really comes down to maximising the potential of the space. Interior design comes a lot with experience. I can remember the first project I was woking on, it was quite over-whelming but after hundreds later the process is now very smooth and transparent. So, really the value is to really get the most out of the space, really maximise every inch of it. Carl - A lot of people don’t have big kitchens, but it is where they spend a lot of time together, a lot of appliances. So using the most of the space I would imagine is very important. Alicia - Exactly, I recently just worked on a ‘tiny house design’ Where I focused on making every single surface almost have two functions. So everything was multi-functional and the space worked very efficiently, even though it was tiny. The fantastic thing about that is, the smaller the space, normally, the smaller the carbon footprint as there is less materials needed to make it, in general. It just gives you that second eye and helps you ensure that the end goal is exactly how you envisioned it, because the construction process can have a lot of hurdles along the way sometimes, so it just helps to have that extra opinion when the unexpected pops up. Carl - How can our customers make use of your expertise? Alicia - What I can do is help explain what combinations of furniture would help best to create their dream kitchen. For example I know that you have a lot of different storage on your website like big cupboards and they are fantastic for creating free standing pantries. I have done some mood boards of where they can be organised within, so that within the pantry you can have other storage and I can explain how to mic and match different products in order to create a very unique identity which doesn’t look like something your neighbour could also have, it would be completely tailored to you. I am there as a guide for any questions your customer may have. When creating a vintage kitchen I know there are a lot of variables, so I can be there to suggest which can be used in combination to create a kitchen that really reflects you and your needs. Carl - Sounds great, you offer online consultations. How do they work? Alicia - It is all done over zoom. It is an hour consultation where the customer can tell me a quick brief of what it is they need help with. As I mentioned before I ask a lot of questions, so I can get the real core of the project and what they really need and then I talk them through a series of suggestions and how we can really make those happen. I then create a plan of action on how to get to their end goal and a suggested shopping list of what components they would need to make that happen. -- So we have teamed up with Alicia to offer our customers a FREE 30 min online consultation. Where she will be happy to discuss your ideas and plans on a vintage kitchen, or any other part of your home you would like to update. Our customers can book from our website here https://www.scaramangashop.co.uk/customer-services/design-consultation If you are looking to add some character and charm to your kitchen, with design that has been carefully thought through to make the most of your space all while being kind to the plant click the link above.