Anya Hindmarch is best known for her playful creations across accessories, namely bags such as the ‘I am not a plastic bag’ tote, and her kitsch range of crisp packet clutches and cereal box styles. Her hugely popular Sticker Shop range of leather stickers has revolutionised the accessory market, allowing customers to customise her designs to their tastes.
Starting her own business back in 1987, it has since grown exponentially into a global company with over 50 Anya Hindmarch stores across nine countries. Her latest endeavour, Anya Smells! Is a new home fragrance collection, featuring six scents with inspiration from family summers spent in the sunshine, to first kisses and new babies. With playful packaging and her Sticker Shop graphics across the designs, Anya Hindmarch’s new home fragrances are part of her ongoing commitment to recreating the everyday in an extraordinary way.
To celebrate the launch of Anya Smells! at Rbt-ua, Anya talks to The LuxPad about the collection’s inspirations, her biggest career challenge to date and what’s next for the brand…
What inspired your home fragrance collection Anya Smells! And is it something you have always been interested in creating?
I have always dreamed of starting a fragrance line and this is just the beginning, it’s so exciting, we have lots of really quite odd ideas that will come out. We decided to launch Anya Smells! with a collection of candles and they are to do with memories and the feeling you get from a smell. So one was inspired by coffee, which is: Wake up! Can do! Let’s do it! You light that one and it puts you in that mood. And then there is the Sun Lotion one, which is the smell of holiday, when you have that slight smell of skin when it’s had a little bit of sun on it and then there is the one which I love. It’s inspired by the smell of baby talcum powder, the smell of a baby’s neck when they have just come out of the bath wrapped in a white towel, which is probably as good as it gets. We have just added three new scents to the range which launches globally in mid-March. ‘Lip balm’ which is inspired by first kisses, ‘Toothpaste’ which has notes of spearmint, French peppermint, Australian grapefruit rind, menthol, candy floss accord and English rhubarb stalk, inspired by freshly brushed teeth! ‘Washing Powder’ which is inspired by the smell of sun-dried laundry and has notes of Calone, violet leaf, cucumber, watermelon rind, Persian galbanum, Australian mimosa, Hyacinth, pine needles, first-bloom crocus and honeysuckle. My obsession has always been with the combination of playfulness and irreverence with the critical ingredient of craftsmanship.
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Did you create the scents with a particular space in mind for each fragrance? And do you have a favourite?
We finished the candles with our Sticker Shop graphics to add a signature dose of humour, which extends to the packaging, where each of the six different boxes can be twisted to create different phrases and faces, which in themselves are beautiful fun objects. I like the decorative appeal; the little eyes animate a bookshelf or a mantelpiece and bring humour when interspersed with serious books.
You’ve received many accolades for your work, from a CBE to a trustee of both the Royal Academy of Arts and the Design Museum, what has been your biggest career highlight to date and do you have any ambitions left you wish to achieve?
I’ve been incredibly lucky, there have been so many wonderful moments. My first orders from Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and my first shop on the second floor of a building on Walton Street in London – I couldn’t afford the ground floor. Being the first accessories designer to hold a runway show, which was exciting and also a little nuts but allowed us to bring the collection to life in a creative way, transporting the industry and our customers into our heads and what we’ve been thinking about for the past 6 months. We have had everything from models floating weightlessly, a 100-piece male voice choir singing Pilgrims Chorus by Richard Wagner to models emerging from within a giant space-age Amphitheatre for SS17 and most recently an artful suburban house covered in anaglypta wallpaper which ended with the roof raising to reveal a giant disco ball. And fast forward to 2018, where we launched Chubby Hearts over London, a public design project where giant heart balloons were suspended over and sometimes squashed within London landmarks as a surprise declaration of love to the city. It was truly a labour of love and a huge team effort, the response has been incredible and was fantastic to give something back to the city!
What has been the hardest challenge you’ve faced during your career and how did you overcome it?
For the first two to three years I worked from my kitchen table, often thinking, what the hell am I doing? All of my friends were at university, and I was a bit lonely. I was the designer, negotiating with the factories, I was the sales girl, the PR, the accountant worrying about cash flow. My youth was a benefit because I didn’t think about the problems, I just got on with it. Looking back I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Can you describe your interior style and tell us what is your favourite room in your home and why?
My kitchen table filled with friends and family, my husband’s roast chicken and several bottles of wine. I have a huge portrait of Winston Churchill in my kitchen, he is a big hero of mine.
I like our stores to feel like an extension of a home and was getting tired of the ‘shop fit’ experience and had seen Martino Gampers exhibition ‘100 Chairs in 100 days’ years ago and fell instantly for his slightly off-kilter aesthetic. We soon discovered that we shared a similar sense of humour and detail-oriented obsession with design and Martino’s pieces blurred the lines quite perfectly. His passion for taking everyday materials and giving them new life in a different context is something we both share. We now have his beautifully-crafted pieces in our flagship stores in London, New York, LA and Tokyo and concessions in Harrods London and Bergdorf Goodman in New York.
What is your most treasured possession and why?
We have a Bespoke part of our business – born out of my love for personalisation. It is a separate collection to mainline and the antithesis of seasonal fashion. We have craftsman on site, reconnecting customers with how things are made. I have a bespoke Ebury made from the most beautiful matt crocodile which is my perfect travelling bag and when I am a long way from home I like the message embossed by my children that says ‘we don’t miss you if you bring us presents!’ in their handwriting.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken’ by Oscar Wilde. I think it says it all.
You’ve just discovered a time machine that can take you to either the past or the future, what year do you go to and why?
I think it would be too tempting not to have a peak into the future, to see the technology we’d have, the things we will have learned, the way our present era will look through the clarity of 100 year hindsight…
Would you ever look to create a further home accessories line or soft furnishing collection?
I love the idea of surprising our customer and doing something a bit off the wall. We have exciting plans for the Anya Smells range that will encompass more than a traditional fragrance line. We are about fun and invention and discovery and playfulness. I love taking the ordinary and creating something extraordinary. Our crisp packet clutch is the perfect example – a piece quite literally inspired by a packet of crisps and my love of giving everyday items a luxury treatment by incredible craftsmen. We 3d scanned the perfect crisp packet. Our 3d scanners in Sheffield were the first company in the UK to start this type of process and work mainly with the automotive industry. They use up to 100 cameras mounted on tripods to take 360 degree photos of any given object all at the same time. It was quite exciting to see it in action. Then we took the scanned models and cast them and worked with the most amazing second generation minaudière maker in Florence. They are the masters of this craft. It is very complicated as it is completely asymmetrical and took many goes to get right. It was a real labour of love. But we love it. It is a perfect little clutch and actually a little piece of art. It is really modern, and a sort of forever classic I think.
What’s next for your brand and in particular Anya Smells!?
It’s very much the beginning, we have lots of really quite odd ideas that will come out, which I can’t wait to share!