In conversation with Marco Mansi, designer Flora Soames discusses her visceral relationship with the objects she collects and the importance of keeping memories alive.




When I met Flora Soames to chat about the genesis of her professional path as an interior decorator and textile designer, we talked about her out-of-control collecting habit. “From the age of eleven, I could not stop collecting things. It felt like an extension of myself, but it was a hobby I admitted to few.” Flora’s relationship with objects is deeply sentimental. “I think it is a stabilizing force in my life,” she says, smiling, “it’s about a desire to hold on to my past and preserve the memory of people who played an important role in my life through objects I am attached to."

Among countless fragments of rare fabrics, potteries, antique glasses, and family memorabilia, the line between art and daily life is enchantingly porous. On the mantlepiece of Flora’s home in Dorset, a pot preserves the whiskers of her dachshund Enid from fifteen years ago, a much-cherished reminder of her late companion.

Flora’s spontaneous approach to collecting is rooted in family tradition, and she recalls with no hesitation some figures and places that shaped the development of her style. First, her family, beginning with her grandmothers, Dama and Grandmama. “I have always admired their confidence in what they collected and how they put things together in their homes,” she tells me.



“They were not interested in displaying the objects they collected the done way; quite the opposite. My grandmothers enjoyed bringing life to their surroundings through simple acts such as putting an object they loved on display for all to see. This is what I aspire to do with my work as a decorator—to create interiors that matter for my clients and elevate their day-to-day life. Sometimes they have been collecting for years, or they have inherited a family collection. Other times, it’s a blank canvas, and I explore with them what engages their curiosity and imagination.”

Then, there is Flora’s family home in Norfolk. “It is an Edwardian house built by my maternal great-grandfather. When I think of home, no other place features. It has been the single most formative influence on me, not just in how I go about my work, but how I go about my life, too,” Flora explains. “My mother grew up in the house and has put lots of energy and love into its decoration. There was some planning, clearly, but she has never been afraid to play with the furniture and make mistakes."

"For her, decorating is all about people, inclusivity, and celebration. I hope I have inherited my mother’s sense of respect, but not reverence, for the past; it informs my approach to interior decoration. I see us, decorators, as gatekeepers whose mission is enhancing the home lives of our clients. We are lucky to deal with ordinary and extraordinary things—and both are equally as important as each other— our editing should be rigorous but playful.”

Flora did not train as an interior decorator. She studied history of art at university and then moved to Italy. When she returned to London in her twenties, she started working for a dealer at a furniture emporium. This formative experience changed her perspective on collecting and paved the way for what came next.



“My transition into the world of interiors was organic. Conversations with clients about objects naturally turned into discussions about their arrangements. While I did not have any formal training, I did have an eye and an eagerness to put what I was learning along the way into practice. I am immensely grateful to my early clients, who took a huge leap of faith in choosing me, and to some very special people who encouraged and supported me at the beginning of my professional path.”

One such person was her late partner, Ant Gordon Lennox. “Though he did not share my obsession for home-making, he was intrigued by it, constantly celebrating what I did. His belief in me was the catalyst for so much.” 

Today, Flora is internationally recognized, a star of the new generation of British decorators. Her enthusiasm for collecting has remained constant, leading her to the world of textile design. “It felt a natural transition to turn the extent of my collecting into something more tangible. I wanted to express myself beyond the interior projects I worked on for my clients. In June 2019, I launched my first six designs— while I did not plan with a coherent collection in mind, they eventually spoke to each other as friends.”

Over the years, Flora’s collection has grown considerably in size but has not changed in its spirit. “What started in a shoebox soon evolved into a trunk, and so on. It’s a myriad of things that appeal to me for different reasons. Together, they reflect my concept of home. About ten years ago, a dear friend called one of these boxes stuffed with random things my One Day Box.” Today, The One Day Box is also the title of Flora’s new book, a love letter to the people, places, and objects that have shaped her path.

- - - - - - - - - -


The One Day Box: A Life-Changing Love of Home, by Flora Soames, is available to buy via the Cabana Bookshop

- - - - - - - - - -