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Designer Eva Sonaike on being brave with pattern, plus her new Soho Home collaboration

The creative director and interior designer’s collection with Soho Home is all about bringing colour into your space. Here, we get to know Sonaike as she shares her expertise on re-energising your decor

By Megan Murray

Shoreditch House member and interior designer, Eva Sonaike, founded her eponymous homeware brand in 2009 with a dream of 'bringing colour to life', an ethos that's reflected in her array of vibrant, patterned pieces.

Throughout her childhood, Sonaike was inspired by her family home, a space alive with eclectic furniture, art and artefacts from her parents' native Nigeria - something that heavily influenced her signature aesthetic.

'I was brought up in Germany, in a picturesque town near the Black Forest. Our house was a mix of antique German furniture alongside expressive, bright art pieces. It's a mismatch of different cultural elements, but it works really well. West African culture is celebratory, while Northern European design gives a modern edge - I bring both into my work ,' she explains.

Sonaike's collaboration with Soho Home spans cushions, rugs, lampshades and a reimagining of the Garrett chair, all featuring new colourways of the designer's Aburi prints.

'I think every creative is a storyteller. Each design represents a time, place or feeling, and the prints I've used for this collection are inspired by a visit to the Aburi Botanical Gardens in Ghana. It's a different take on the idea of floral,' she says.

Here, Sonaike shares her passion for teaching those who are nervous around colour and pattern to embrace it at home.

Use cushions to experiment with mixing prints

'It can be difficult to put clashing prints next to each other, but cushions are an easy way to practise. They are interchangeable and moveable, so it gives you a chance to build your confidence.

'As too many colours can feel chaotic, choose one tonal family to create an aesthetically pleasing environment while still offering variety. One pattern should take the lead, so let a large-scale fabric dominate. Combine this with medium or small-scale patterns for accents.

'Don't incorporate more than four patterns, though, and be careful to create a visual balance by mixing in solid colours every so often to break up the lines and shapes.'

Accessories can liven up a neutral scheme

'A neutral decor scheme is calming and elegant, but it needs a mix of texture, pattern and scale to feel dynamic. A great way to do this is by introducing a splash of colour through small accessories.

'Lampshades are a low-key and easily changeable option. As they come in two parts, you can create balance by pairing a vibrant shade with a neutral base, in a material such as concrete or ceramic.

'Opt for a lighter base and darker shade to give the patterns depth. And if you can pick this fabric out somewhere else in the room, it will create a more harmonious overall look.'

A standout feature gives the room a design focus

'Every home needs a wow item - and an occasional chair is perfect because of its size and function. As an accent piece, it can be brought in and out, and it doesn't rely on the rest of the scheme. Plus, it's comfortable and serves a purpose, as well as being visually impactful.

'A patterned fabric can change the scale of a piece of furniture, so patterns are great on accent chairs as the overall look doesn't overpower the setting.'

Use a rug as the fifth wall

'A rug is an essential layer in any space; its thickness and texture automatically add warmth and character. But, it's also an opportunity to stamp some personality onto a room.

'If your walls are neutral, a large rug with a bold pattern can look really fabulous. I like to position it in the centre of the room and move all of the furniture away to really let it shine.'