I was a little bit nervous about meeting Anna Hayman. The lovely Brenda of Lewes-based online store ‘Interior’ had recommended that I contact her for an interview and so I first of all took a little look at her Instagram page. Anna Hayman makes the most incredible, striking and dramatic luxury lampshades, wallpaper, prints and fabrics. They are all elegant and bold, they command your attention. I loved them – especially the lampshades. Just so beautiful.
By the time I had arranged a meeting with Anna, I was totally in love with her brand and I definitely have butterflies in my stomach as I pull up outside her 1920s home in Ringmer, just outside Lewes. The first member of the family I meet however, is not Anna, but her lovely Dachsund Myrtle who greets me at the already open door. Then, of course, Anna herself appears and welcomes me in with an instantly familiar and candid manner. She is excited as she is waiting for a delivery of some new fabric she has designed to arrive and her energy is captivating. It is clear that she still gets such a buzz out of seeing her designs translate into textiles and so this is the perfect time for me to meet her and to get a sense of her passion and energy for her art.
On entering Anna’s house the staircase is straight in front of me with a dining room to the left and a living room to the right, Anna steers us first of all into the living room. My first taste of Anna’s home style. I don’t know what I was expecting – perhaps I didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas – but I am totally stunned by the way she has decorated the space. A combination of raw-finished paintwork, vintage velvet furniture, foxed glass tiles in the alcove and the most striking thing in the room – one of Anna’s decadent lampshades – which has such a dark elegance to it. The room is so textural… I almost feel as though I have walked onto a photo shoot but, no, this is just Anna and her natural and totally unique sense of style.
We head into her kitchen to drink coffee and to get to know one another a little better. The kitchen is in a beautiful spot in the house overlooking the lovely back garden, it has a cottage feel that sits perfectly in the house but has strong green paint colour on the brick walls, and over the pipes and door frames ensuring that it has Anna’s unique stamp on it once again.
As we chat about Anna’s life growing up in and around Lewes, her family life and how she got started as a designer there is a knock on the door – the delivery has arrived! I feel pretty privileged to see the fabric at the same time as Anna herself. It is a hypnotic repeating pattern of dark and lighter blues with shocks of gold throughout it, Anna spreads it over her sofa and immediately matches it with a black faux-fur throw. For some reason it makes me think of American Film Noir, like Sunset Boulevard – I can imagine the character Norma Desmond draping herself along a sofa upholstered in this fabric.
Anna is understandably delighted with it and and with that she offers to show me around the house. Upstairs there are the children’s bedrooms off to the left – which we don’t go into as Anna hasn’t decorated them yet – and off to the right are the bathroom and Anna’s bedroom. The textural paint style continues in the bathroom on the ceiling in a light green, this is contrasted with black and white check tiles on the floor and a bright pink mat. Although the room is bright Anna has brought some of her dark style into the room by painting the window frame and sill black.
The bedroom though is yet another feast for the eyes. Anna has a gold ceiling – yes you read that correctly – and not only that but her curtains are made of gold lamé and her bedspread is covered in gold sequins! I have never been to a house decorated in such a way, and perhaps there is no other house like Anna’s, her style is so bold and brave and I feel completely absorbed by it. The feeling I have of faded Hollywood glamour hits me once again and I love it. I imagine Bette Davis now floating around in the room with a black, swishy-swashy dressing gown and gold slippers with a cigarette in one hand and a whiskey in the other.
The paper on the walls is one of Anna’s own designs in black and gold – again it speaks volumes that her designs truly are her own taste and she wants to be surrounded by her work. I am enjoying soaking up the atmosphere in the room so much that Anna has to practically kick me out so that she can get changed and I use the time to visit the dining room (and to have a little cuddle with Myrtle – bonus!)
The dining room is the last room that I visit and of course it is just as much of a treat to step into. The paint finish in this room is in Anna’s characteristic style once again and hanging from the centre of the room and on the chest of drawers in the alcove are more beautiful examples of Anna’s lamps. Inside the fireplace sits a wood burner which is painted in a bright crimson red. The gold ceiling pops up once again in this room and this is reflected in little gold hand painted crosses on the dark blue walls as well as the gold fireplace.
After taking the last of my photos Anna rejoins me to take a couple of snaps of her together with Myrtle before I head home. Of course Anna also spares some of her time to answer my Lewes Home questions:
Tell us a little about yourself
I live in Ringmer with my husband and 2 sons. We lived in Lewes for 18 years and moved to Ringmer last August, to a 1920’s house. Our home before was 1980’s, so starting from scratch has been really fun and exciting.
How would you describe your home style?
Bohemian, pattern and colour focussed, Bloomsbury/60’s fusion. I am a print designer so use a lot of my own work, wallpapers, fabrics, cushions etc. My prints are intricate Arts and Crafts style linoprints, which compliment the house well.
What/who/where inspires your style?
Being near Charleston has always been an inspiration, but I also love the Biba era. I’m also a part of the ‘dark interiors’ movement, so all the ceilings are now painted (mostly gold), and I’m not afraid of black! The house itself is the main inspiration however, the charming 1920’s features and period details which luckily the previous owners were careful to maintain and conserve.
What do you most look forward to when coming home?
Seeing my daschund Myrtle! And if it’s cold, making a real fire.
What is your favourite room in the home, why?
My bedroom is a complete hedonistic retreat, gold ceilings, patterned walls, sequinned bedspread, hanging plants, dressing table, I went all out. When I opened for Artwave it was definitely the favourite room. I love the lounge though too, we pulled all the colours from an incredible vintage cut velvet sofa we found on ebay, the colours were perfect for 1920/s ambience. I’ve also just updated the kitchen though with a divisive tan brown stripe, so I’m currently loving the ‘rum and cola’ vibe in there.
Are there any interior design ‘rules’ you stick to when choosing things for your home?
I’m not big on rules lol, I do take in ideas from instagram, pinterest etc but every home is different so I’m dictated to by the house, nothing else.
What interior décor is a big turn-off for you?
I don’t like to judge, different folks, different strokes. Whatever floats your boat, I know what I like and get pretty obsessive, so thinking about something I hate is hard, I’m a lover not a fighter!
What makes living in Sussex special for you?
Well I’ve never lived anywhere else, so now my business is growing I’d really like to use it as an excuse to travel more. I will always be based here though, Lewes is magnetic, and Sussex has everything, Brighton, the coastline, the woodland. I grew up in Burwash, which is very rural, so the countryside is where I’m comfortable.
Tell us a bit about Anna Hayman Designs – what is the history of your brand and what spurred you on to start your own business?
I formed the business slowly when my children were small, allowing myself total creative freedom. As a lifelong pattern addict, it was natural to steer my artistic leaning towards print. I had a small shoe business before, where I learned many mistakes, so this is round 2. Escapism, I guess, was the driving force, and a wish to be connected through aesthetics to the wider world. Now it is established and my children are older it is more like a 9-5 (or 9.30-3), in a good way.
How would you describe your products to someone that has never shopped with you before and where can we buy your products?
I sell colourful and decadent printed products such as fringed lampshades, heavily patterned wallpapers, fabrics and soon – cushions. I sell mainly through instagram, email, to trade and I have my webshop. My lampshade and prints also sell through Rockett St. George and of course I now sell through Liberty London.
You have just announced this exciting new partnership with Liberty. Can you tell us a little more about this?
Liberty London is a dream retailer for anyone selling a product and I was thrilled to be asked to join a new range of specially selected interiors products on the third floor. The buyer chose 4 exclusive designs in two different lampshade styles, and I had some bases made by Ditching based metalworker Ralph Levy. I had envisaged my lampshades in there from when they were first made, so it harks a real beginning for me as a designer. I’m looking forward to what the next year has in store, I would love to do a furniture and/or clothing collaboration. Onwards and upwards!
So once again I leave another home with a whole new dose of inspiration. Anna is an extremely talented artist as well as a being a focussed business woman and busy mum. I have no doubt that we will see a lot more from Anna Hayman Designs in the near future and in years to come and I have to say I can hardly wait!