Girl you need to know: Città stylist Sam van Kan


Sam talks homewares, her career and seasonal trends

In our weekly Girl You Need To Know series, we interview cool girls in interesting jobs or chicks who are doing their own ‘thing’ in their respective industry. This week, Miss FQ interviews the incredibly talented Sam van Kan, Stylist & Display Designer for Città aka the girl who makes everything worthy of being on a Pinterest board.

We caught up with Sam to hear how her enviable career began and to learn some tips on homewares trends for this winter…

How did your career with Città begin?

Sam: “I started working for Città part time in 2014 in our Britomart store while I was studying Graphic Design. Once I graduated with my degree, I took up an opportunity to move to Wellington for a year to set up and work in our new Thorndon store as VM and Assistant Manager.”

How did you transition from working retail to your job at Città head office?

“The Stylist & Display Designer role was a new position created in the marketing team while I was in Wellington. I loved living in Wellington but this was pretty much my dream job. So, I applied, and here I am!”

What does your role involve?

“I work closely with the textile design team to translate the inspirations for each seasonal collection through to the imagery for each collection campaign, plan the layouts and interior design elements for our Città stores and work with our content team on all the styling tips and advice on Style Your Space on the Città website. I’m also the #askthestylist for Città.”

For those on a limited budget, what your advice for the best way to add a bit of excitement to a space, without breaking the bank?

“Start by choosing something small like a cushion or throw in a bold print, colour or texture and make it the hero of your room. By pulling colours from this hero piece to create the basis of your look you are guaranteed that it will be cohesive. Changing out cushion covers is the best way to change the look of your space seasonally (or just with your mood!) as they are not expensive and have great impact.”

What inspires you personally when it comes to homeware?

“Something with a story! I love spaces that feel well used and lived in, creating a collection of pieces over time helps a space feel more natural and allows you to mix new things in with old, this way your personal style is constantly evolving. Recently I was lucky enough to inherit my Grandnana’s 1930s blush pink and silver bedside lamp (above). I had been looking for a piece that had just the right amount of femininity, colour and character for so long before this came into my hands! It just sits so perfectly alongside my minimal oak pieces of furniture and I love the idea that something she used every night to light her Agatha Christie stories, is now being used to light mine.  Sometimes it’s good to splurge and purchase beautifully designed pieces that you love. One day they might mean as much to someone else, just like my Grandnana’s light means to me. I think when buying something new, knowing where it came from and the stories of the people who created it is so important! Città is good at this, Margot our founder and CEO and the designers are often visiting our manufacturers around the world, getting to know the people that produce our products and returning with their personal stories.”

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What’s the best way to add colour to a space without going OTT?

“If you are keen to add colour without going too bold I would start with one or a few standout designs or colours, then complete the look with accessories in various tones within the same colour palette. When it comes to choosing accent colours, balance is the key! Choose palettes that blend just a pop of the warm in with a cool colour scheme, or vice versa, to create balance in your room. To keep the look interesting, you can play with patterns around a single shade – combining different textures and patterns with small variations in tone keeps it more subtle.”

I’m moving into a new room that’s essentially a blank canvas. How do I decide on my aesthetic if I’m unsure what direction I want to take?

“Pick a hero piece! If you have a few key pieces that you already own and love – use these as the foundation, or building blocks for your room. This might be some art or furniture, or simply a favourite duvet cover or cushion.

“Use social platforms like blogs, Instagram and Pinterest for researching and pulling together mood boards of what you like, you will start to get an idea of your aesthetic and then you can start to shop around for what you need to pull that look together. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Our Città stylists are experts in putting together a look that suits you and your lifestyle so make the most of this and discuss how to bring your ideas to life.”

Now onto the latest Città arrivals. What is it about Bolivia that led to the inspiration for this collection?

“Imogen Tunnicliffe, our head textile designer, and her team fell in love with the natural wonder that is Bolivia. The bold design style is inspired by layered mountain geology and recalls earthy, linear abstract art, like mineral and rock formations glinting with iridescent metallics. We included a lot of chunky textures, bold shapes and simple geometrics and plaids, colliding with exaggerated weaves and knits. The shimmering surfaces of Bolivia’s ancient salt flats inspired unexpected earthy colour combination and textures.”

Can you describe the key colour palette and some of the unexpected colour combinations at play?

“The rich colours of Bolivia’s landscape inspire the emotive and moody colour palette. The land itself seems drenched in colour, inspiring rich, saturated hues like Russet, Paprika and Berry. Visuals of the chalky, crumbled earth and burnt soil translate into earthy tones of Clay, Scoria and Nutmeg. Salty, crystalline colour combinations serve as highlights, and contrast against the deeper, richer tones. Soft mineral hues of Quartz and Amethyst, and subtle dusty Mushroom and Almond add softness to the palette. Forest, Sage and Emerald are included in reference to the lusher landscapes of Bolivia, and to reflect the latest emerging interior style.”

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Metallic accents such as muted gold and silver play a key role for AW17. What are your tips for incorporating metallic into a living room or bedroom space in a new way?

“Mixing raw natural elements with perfectly finished pieces creates a balanced contrast where one finish serves to hightlight the other. Think raw, slubby cottons and linens on the bed with polished metallic accessories for the nightstand or ambient lighting.”

Are there any new homeware ideas coming through with this collection – perhaps an idea / trend / concept that we haven’t seen much of before?

“Lots of thick knits, cosy velvets and linens to amp up the luxury! We have also just introduced some more organic tones and rough weaves into this collection with some floor cushions, building on the success of natural linen that we have seen over the last few years in interiors. It’s definitely a style that we have noticed gaining traction internationally and we have added to this for our summer collection to be released in August. By mixing these raw textures with some more refined pieces you can create a balanced look, celebrating the perfectly imperfect!”

Photos: Instagram