5 minutes with: interior designer Eva Sonaike

Creative Director and Founder of her own brand, Eva Sonaike has become known for her bold interior design solutions with a vibrant, elegant West-African aesthetic. The studio’s ethos ‘bringing colour to life’ is reflected in its signature collections of interior textiles. Pauline Brettell took a closer, colourful look when she caught up with the designer during London Design Festival…

designer Eva Sonaike with fabrics from her Asa range

One of the joys of events like the recent London Design Festival, is the opportunities it gives us to connect in real-time. While the advantages of remote and flexible working are innumerable, it was wonderful to sit down with Eva Sonaike to talk design, collaboration and general creativity. Over the years she has worked with some of the worlds leading interior design firms on residential and commercial design projects, such as the Kanuhura Resort in the Maldives (HBA), Hubert Zandberg Interiors, the Bill Gates Foundation and has also secured some exclusive collaborations,  most recently with Soho Home, the interiors collection of the members club Soho House – we kicked off the conversation asking about this project.

Pauline Brettell: Can you give us a little background insight into your Soho Home collaboration?

Eva Sonaike: Soho Home were looking for guest designers to enhance and work with their style in the Houses, as well as develop a retail line – there was a lot of creative freedom on this project, and the process of integrating my design style with the Soho House aesthetic was an interesting one. The end result is a combination of some of their key products with my products and designs. Some of the designs were done in exclusive colourways for this collection. The result is an interesting juxtaposition of design which is Nigerian at its roots but quite universal at the same time.

Eva Sonaike Soho Home collection

Image credit: Eva Sonaike

PB: with your trademark colour and pattern, do you find clients more open to colour now?

ES: Clients usually come to me because they are looking for something bold and colourful – they come looking for colour. People are definitely much more open to colour now, and here in the UK people are experimenting with colour, and prepared to take bolder steps to include it in their interiors. I recently declined a client who requested an all white bathroom, but eventually took it on the project and replaced colour with form and pattern and texture which was an interesting exercise!

Eva Sonaike lampshades, fabric and wallpaper

Image credit: Eva sonaike

PB: Tell us a little about the new collection you have hinted at!

ES: My first collection in 2011 was really bold and bright – it did well and became my signature, but over the years I went through the process of thinking it needed to be more commercial and toned down – as a designer you go through phases. But after lockdown I felt energised to move back to that place of bold joy and happiness – I feel like the time is right and people need it. We are all looking for something to stand out and make a positive statement, so with my new collection I have gone back to bold colours, joy and happiness , inspired by the colours and patterns of Northern Nigeria.

Eva Sonaike bathroom design for CP Hart

Image credit: Eva Sonaike


PB: Which is your personal favourite in the Eva Sonaike range?
ES: Oh that’s a difficult question. Who’s my favourite child? I would say the Kano collection at the moment, as it is the latest launch. I went back to basics and created a collection full of colour and pattern – unapologetically African!

PB: What is your favourite part of the design process?
ES: I love the whole process from the research and going though images I took, creating a story and of course the actual drawing process. The best part is always when I get the printed designs back and approve them, which means ‘its a wrap!’

PB: Any exciting new projects to let out of your designer bag?
ES: Nothing I can talk about at the moment, but watch your screens, you’ll see me soon….

PB: If you HAD to choose, London or Lagos?
ES: Can we do winter in Logos and summer in London?

PB: and finally ….cake or caviar?
Cake with a capital C!

Eva Sonaike Soho Home cushions

Image credit: Eva Sonaike

PB: And finally, can you tell us a little  more about the CP Hart bathroom collaboration? 

ES: The brief was very open ‘wellness redefined’, which was great as it allowed me to be creative and design what I really wanted. My inspiration came from beach houses on the West African Atlantic coast. We included mid century elements such terrazzo flooring and colourful vanity units. I love translating this look into a luxurious, contemporary bathroom.

Main image credit: Eva Sonaike