In conversation with Samantha Eastlake of SKS design
SKS is a small design studio with big ideas and a portfolio encompassing hotels, homes, and offices in and around London. Sam is also the principal designer for Office Space in Town serviced offices, (pictured), where she creates highly unique workspaces that transport the users into different worlds.
What did you do before you started SKS?
I was employed full-time as a designer for a London-based D&B company, so pretty much exactly what I do now, without all the admin that comes with running a business.
What made you leave the office job and set up on your own?
I wouldn’t say I left my ‘office job’. I still have an office job, except that office is now in a bright turquoise summer cottage at the bottom of my garden. Before leaving South Africa, I had my own business, so it was a natural progression for me to set up on my own again once I had built strong relationships and a good client base in a new country. Having time is important to me and setting up on my own has meant that I get to choose how to spend my hours and days, so if I feel like taking a day off on a Friday (to enjoy some sunshine) and working on the Saturday (when it’s raining) instead I can do that. Serviced offices are frequently quite generic.
How did you manage to convince the client that a design-led space was the way forward?
In this specific case, it didn’t take any convincing at all. SKS have worked alongside OSiT on numerous projects so we have built up a level of trust for what does and doesn’t work with a heavily design-led space. On the first projects we partnered on, there was some work that had to be put in to get the client’s buy-in, but we were and still are exceptionally lucky that the client is so open-minded and willing to take risks and let us flex our design muscles.
What inspired the ‘happiness’ theme for this project?
There were a multitude of reasons, especially with wellness and mental health being such a huge focus now but it started with a small emotion of happiness just within the project team. Most of the team had worked together six years ago and were happy to be able to ‘play’ together again on this specific building. It started with that, then on our first site visit we all walked into an old meeting room that was called “The Happiness Lab”. The room had a makeshift bar and a random disco ball in it and everyone just smiled – and the rest of it just fell into place after that.
What’s your favourite room in this office?
You can’t ask that!!!! Seriously, I think it changes every time you are in the building. The individual toilet cubicles do, however, still make me smile as each and every one is different, so it’s a bit like exploring whenever you open a toilet door.
Do you tend to work to a central theme with all your projects?
It really does differ with each client, their specific needs and their overall brief. Each client and business is unique so we try and focus on that. We do try and make sure that each time we create a built environment for one of our clients we have a reason why we design things the way we do. Sometimes a theme works, but other times it doesn’t, as the functionality is much more important than the aesthetic.
You are quite an advocate for using colour in your interiors. Does this reflect in your personality too?
I love colour. I design with it, I wear it, my house looks like a rainbow has vomited inside it… so yes, I would say it probably reflects me a little bit. I have a friend who likes to call my personality and my work “Sam Pizzaz!”
Finally, with more people than ever working from home, do you have any tips for creating a home office?
If at all possible, from my own experience, try and have a space away from your home. If you can get an outside shed, that’s ideal. If not, a separate room in the house. Trying to work in your lounge, bedroom or dining room is always going to be tough as you should be able to have a clear mental and physical break between home and work life. A good, ergonomic chair is essential. Sitting on the sofa with a laptop is terrible for your posture. It encourages you to slump, put your head forward and that’s going to put strain on your body