Words by Chantelle Billson
London-based interior designer Sera Hersham-Loftus is best known to her clients as Sera of London, the name of her pop-up shop described as ‘the most beautiful shop in London’ by Vogue.
Her custom-made items which she calls ‘house jewels’ can be purchased from her website where you can also book Sera as your personal interior shopper.
As interior decorator to countless A-listers including Kate Moss, David Attenborough, singer Eliza Dolittle and Twiggy, to name a few, Sera’s hedonistic style is what makes her work desirable to her clientele, who often lead demanding lifestyles, and request that their spaces are transformed into a sanctuary away from the stresses of the outside world.
Sera currently lives in picturesque Little Venice, west London, in an 1850s built apartment with her photo-journalist boyfriend Martin Pope.
Making a home a haven is part of Sera’s ethos, and the designer describes the most important part of decorating as creating: “an escape from the mundane and into your fantasy place where, when you step through the door, you feel you are enchanted, seduced and creatively romantic.”
Throughout her teenage years, where she grew up in Mayfair, Sera indulged in her adoration of vintage clothing and fabrics which she continues to buy, collect, and treasure today. “All of my vintage clothes are an inspiration for my interiors,” explains Sera, whose daring Bohemian take on interiors has become a staple to her designs.
Sera has become an expert of sourcing one-of-a-kind items from a variety of flea-markets and selected antique sales. In a bid to defy pretentious designs that leave no room for comfortable, free-spirited living, she designs with the reality of a space that is to be lived in and enjoyed.
Designing in, what she calls, an ‘organic process’ her heady spaces are often created around an object of inspiration, which is usually a vintage garment or decedent accessory that sparks her creativity. “I’m a sixties child so grew up in a very Bohemian environment. This definitely comes through in my work,” says Sera.
As a self-confessed free spirit, Sera admits that it is rare for her to follow current trends, and if she does so, it is never intentional. Her sumptuous designs encapsulate the grip of her enchanting presence and offer clients their own romantically lit ‘free-living’ space.
In day-to-day life she manages to cultivate inspiration in everything she is surrounded by; people, films, books, fabrics and various markets, all act as an inspiration to Sera and her design process, but she says that her childhood role models formed her overall style. “Anoushka Hemple, Barbra Haluniki, the shop Biba, Mr Freedom and the King’s Road were all part of how I formed my style growing up,” Sera explains.
In keeping with the romantic ambience of her work, Sera celebrates the use of soft lighting. “Low-lighting is indulgence in design,” she says. “I always changed my room around as a child. I loved seeing how the room looked with the bed coming out of different angles, and I loved seeing how it looked with different lighting.”
Her understanding of lighting extends to her intricately designed lampshades which she describes as ‘art-pieces’ wonderfully named; ‘rude lampshades’. “When turned off they are jewellery for the house, and when turned on they make everyone look beautiful and give the room a beautiful glow,” says Sera, who has made it her blueprint to avoid harsh overhead lighting in favour of soft 1930s style wall and table lighting. The addition of backlit plants and softly-glowing candles creates the sensuous atmosphere she is renowned for.
Sera also designs her collection of lavish custom-made accessories including ‘Foxy Cushions’ with fitting names such as the Aroused Rose as well as ‘House Gown Curtains,’ which are ‘multi-functional transformative architectural pieces for your home’ to be used on windows or to act as room dividers allowing one to live in a ‘free-flowing romantic space.’