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Style Editor: Vanessa Colyer Tay

I’ve mentioned my love for Australian design magazine Inside Out many times here. One of the main reasons is their amazingly styled shoots, which are due in large part to their style editor, Vanessa Colyer Tay. In a crazy twist of fate, (and one of the best things about doing this blog,) it turns out that Vanessa is a fellow HappyMundane-r! You can imagine my star-struck-ness when I got the email that she reads this little blog. So, I of course had to ask if I could interview her- I’m sure many of you are as curious as I am as to what being a “Style Editor” entails- So… here she is to answer my 10 questions…

How long have you been a stylist/style editor?
This is my 5th year of styling

What kind of responsibilities does a style editor have?
A style editor tracks down the latest and greatest and shows the world. I develop and build interior sets, style homes for photography and do the countless hours of legwork (sourcing, research, schemes and palettes) that can help you in your decorating endeavoursHow did you get into this field? What is your background?
My interiors addiction grew whilst studying Interior decoration for 2 years full time (before that I did hairdressing, advertising, and nomadic explorations). I assisted stylists whilst studying who shared with me their joy of styling and magazines, this world is very addictive, once you have a taste you need some more, bigger stories, more challenging shoots, a stylist is always on the hunt for practical excitement and visual perfection .

What inspires you? Where do you go to find inspiration?
Everything! From blogs like Happy Mundane to the latest releases in Milan. The young and old who embrace creative expression whether it is through art, design or clothing. Nature, film, theater, exhibitions, stylists, architects, music, birdsong, artists, simple pleasures, international magazines like Elle Décor Italia, clever people, those who strive to create amazing things from art to furniture, especially the ones who do it for the love and not the money. It’s the passion in the air which I find inspiring. There’s beauty everywhere, sometimes it’s screaming at you, and at other times it needs a little step back to appreciate.

Do you have a process in which you go about styling? or do you approach each project different?
Each project is a little different, however I have a core process for each.
Step 1. Develop concept and stick to it
Step 2. Research product availability
Step 3. Create storyboards and preliminary presentations
Step 4. Sourcing
Step 5. Conduct photoshoot and tidy up the aftermath
Step 6. Reap the rewards of a successful shoot
What do you love most about being a style editor, what do you hate about it?
“Hate” is a strong word, so let’s call it ‘less fond of’ …. The general hard yakka, a large shoot feels like you’re moving house. Back pain and pulled muscles become your friend, but then so does yoga (to compensate for the stress). The constant fast pace of the roll results in a mini nervous breakdown every 8 weeks

Love…. constantly creating, that means there is constant reward. It’s unlike a decorating or interior design where projects can take months/years. We get to see the finished result much sooner. I have around 16 ‘reward weeks’ a year, that’s a week of feeling completely fulfilled and satisfied with work …. that I get paid for! Even better.

Do you find your own personal tastes different from what you do professionally?
I have varied and adaptable taste, there’s a little love in every story I create, however I style in so many different aesthetics they don’t all make it into my home. Sometimes due to cash, and sometimes because there not quite me right now. There’s also things I love that wouldn’t make the cut at work.

Is your home reflective of your work, or would people be surprised at how your own home is decorated?
A little of both, I’m sure there’s snippets of my work style at home, however it’s a work in progress. Young couple, first home, cat, bird, regular salaries, you get the picture ……. In 5- 8 years it will be the home dreams are made of, fingers crossed!

What do you see going forward into 2009 that you find yourself drawn to right now? (ie. trends, colors, directions, etc…)
Back to basics, raw materials, pieces staying pure and true to what they are. Items that are good value because they are created from cheap but beautiful materials, staying away from pieces that are hoo haa’d up to look more expensive.

Do you have any tips you could share?
Know what overall mood, concept you are aiming for and stick to it. Most of us have varied tastes, the key is to build a solid base around a core theme, once in place then you can build and add to it with eccentricities you pick up throughout life.

Mix investment pieces with cheapies from department and bargain stores, there’s real joy in finding the one gem in amongst an ocean of less desirables. To do this, picture the piece sitting on its own, or in your space, or at least out of a messy store which may be swaying your perception.

Unify miss matched items, bring them together on a large sideboard and create a collection, bring mismatched furniture together on a large luscious rug. Doing this gives mismatched pieces a purpose and somewhere to live.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this interview. Vanessa included some of her favorite recent works and gave us some commentary for each shot-
(All images provided by Vanessa Colyer Tay)



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