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Gorgeous Santorus

It was last September, at interiors fair Decorex, that I stumbled across Santorus. Created by Tara Strickland and Fabiàn Santoro, the liveable art brand is an inspired mix of Indian flamboyance and Venetian carnival theatricals that was an instant hit at Fashion Week 2016. The unstoppable duo and have now spread their collection of playfully surrealist prints to bespoke furniture, decadent velvet cushions-to-die-for, statement wallpaper and glamorous accessories that would make the perfect additions to our bohemian rock'n'roll interiors. I caught up with the visionary designers to find out what is the driving force behind this wild London design house.

 

Malphor: Your creations bear the influences of your unusual Indian and Italian cultural heritage, but I can't help feeling other elements animate your extravagant designs. What else inspires you?

Tara: We love historical stories of adventure as well as timeless literary tales - it reflects who we are personally and is impossible to avoid. For example our Elephant’s March design found its roots in one of our favourite stories, The Jungle Book - Kipling’s original story of Little Toomai who comes across a clearing full of elephants. The elephants start to stamp their feet, making the ground tremble as they dance until dawn... it was great fun to reinterpret that in Santorus style!

Fabiàn: Yes, Tara mentioned fun. We really don’t take ourselves too seriously, we think that comes out in our work too. Every design has whimsical elements that make us smile. I think you can tell that by the books that have influenced the work – Elephant’s March - the Jungle Book; Cirque Sous-Marine - Around the World in 80 Days etc.

Elephants March coriander wallpaper

M: As a duo, do you collaborate closely at all stages or do you have distinct roles in the creative process? 

T: The design process is definitely a family affair! I will generally start off the colour palette and design concepts across any new products while our mother [Meera Santoro] acts as Art Director. I am primarily involved with designing from concept through to the finished article but as a creative family everyone has their own input and aesthetic to inject along the way!

F: As Tara said, the theme of a collection is very much a melting pot of ideas. It’s an incredible process of seeing how a few words can turn into a rich visual narrative.

 Santorus Scatter Cushions

M: Your parents are award-winning designers themselves, have you ever felt any pressure from them?

T: I wouldn’t say pressure, no. Our parents have always encouraged us to pursue our passions – growing up immersed in a creative environment meant I knew from quite an early age that I wanted to be involved in art and design and I loved it.

F: They are a wealth of knowledge and are very generous with their advice and guidance. They want us to do well which is more of a motivation than pressure.

 

M: When you first launched Santorus in 2016, your printed leather jacket was described as "the statement piece of London Fashion Week" what impact did this exposure have on the brand? 

F: At the time we launched most people had never seen anything like it before. They couldn’t believe how intricate the design was, how supple the leather was etc. They understood immediately what we are all about, that wow factor experience.

T: We now get so excited with developing our latest lines, because we want to get the same reaction from people with everything we do, sometimes it can be a little daunting to finally unleash them into the world and see the response.

Santorus New Collection 2017

M: Your stationery range is sumptuous, but in the world of smartphones, is there still a place for a notebook?

 F: Though typing on a keyboard is incredibly efficient it’s all very generic and robotic. Writing by hand is a really personal and individual experience – you can tell a lot by a person’s handwriting. 

T: Absolutely! There is something wonderfully engaging about physically writing down thoughts or notes by hand. People will never get bored of it.

Santorus stationery

M: You have recently launched a luxurious interiors collection. Can we expect to see your pieces in hotels and restaurants? (Names please!)

F: As you know commercial projects can take up years from specification to completion, there are a few in the pipeline – don’t worry when they are ready we will be shamelessly showing them off!

 

M: In this world of neutral tones, what would you say to people who are afraid of colour?

T: Go for it! Colour can be so welcoming and emotive. If you are nervous about taking the plunge and struggle to visualise, Pinterest is your best friend. Create a mood board exploring different tones and colour combinations to see what appeals to you. Accent cushions, throws and rugs are also great ways to experiment with colour if you are nervous about committing to a full statement wall. 

Madame Cushions

M: The brand seems to be ever evolving into new disciplines, what journey will Santorus take us on next?

F: It’s very hard to say. The reason for that is that our creative process doesn’t start with what we do, it starts with why we do it. We want to create beautiful things that offer people a wow experience when they walk into our showroom. In order to achieve this, we believe in doing things differently and spend most of our time looking to challenge people’s expectations – all we can say is expect the unexpected!

 

M: Finally, a favourite quote or personal mantra you live by?  

T: More is more!

Madame Visage cranberry wallpaper

Santorus
Rotunda Point, 11 Hartfield Crescent, London SW19 3RL

Orient fabric