Designer Spotlight: Abigail Ahern

Ideal Home meets Abigail Ahern to talk trends, inspirations and the new collection for Debenhams, launching this spring

Abigail Ahern is an influential interiors designer whose work is synonymous with eclecticism, decadence and glamour. Encouraging us to be fearless with our decorating choices, Abigail champions a dark and brooding interior style, filled with thoroughly convincing faux foliage and characterful animals.

‘It started with an alcove’, Abigail tells us of her penchant for decorating with tantalising dark hues, ‘it becomes addictive’. The trend for decorating with rich dark colours is one that has been growing in recent years and shows no signs of waning, Abigail was well ahead of the curve on this one. She is by her own admissions not one to follow trends,  more of advocate of following your heart to create a style you love – regardless of its trend status.

designer abigail ahern with potted plants and grey wall

(Image credit: TBC)

The Abigail Ahern/EDITION collection for Debenhams has Abigail’s distinctive style very much at the heart of it; drawing on her travels from around the world, with animal motifs and tribal patterns set against a background of bold and colourful textures. Ideal Home went along to meet Abigail and preview the new collection, all beautifully set out in an apartment at the plush five-star apartment hotel Cheval Three Quays, London.

blue living room with sofa and potted plants

(Image credit: abigailahern)

Tiger Applique Cushion, £42; Elephant Applique Cushion, £35; Raven Lamp, £90; Starfish Wall Hooks, £15 each; Octopus Wall Hook, £20 each, all Abigail Ahern/EDITION at Debenhams.

Can you talk us through the inspiration behind the new SS17 collection?

My new spring summer collection for Debenhams is incredibly tribal, colourful; very textural obsessed and really patterned. We’ve got amazing flock lamps, beautiful embellished textural cushions and lots of animal–esque things that really make you smile and feel happy; like octopus tealight holders and incredibly little wall hooks. All very beautiful and glamorous, but with a real tribal African edge.

What is your favourite piece within the collection?

My favorite piece from the collection is the Cobra lamp, which is this beautiful snake; flocked so it feels really glam with a beautiful metallic shade.

How would you encourage others to incorporate these pieces into their own homes?

Everything I’ve designed, I’ve designed as if it’s a focal point, so I would say to add pieces in your home that immediately delight the senses and make you smile. Two or three pieces will make such a difference. Like the cobra lamp on a side table or a really cool cushion on your sofa so when you walk into your space your eye automatically goes to it and it feels happy and fun; so just pepper them into your space.

Who or what inspires you as a designer?

So many things inspire me as a designer. I spend a lot of time travelling, particularly to the Far East. Colour inspires me, texture inspires me; how I come up with designing a collection, because I have so many filters running through my head all at the same time I generally think about a concept and then design things from there. This concept was very African and tribal and that really influenced this whole collection, so then I started drilling into embellishment and texture and particular colours. But anything and everything can inspire me.

How would you advise on choosing colour in the home? 

I think people should use more colour than they actually do. I’m very colour obsessed because it immediately makes you feel happy and excited. Take small risks with colour. If you’re slightly scared about using colour in your home go for a really amazing brightly coloured cushion or paint an alcove in a really cool colour or buy a plant in a vibrant green. Use it in small areas first and then you become more and more addicted, the more you add colour the more invigorating and tantalising the space is.

garden area with wooden chairs and potted plants

(Image credit: abigailahern)

Multi-coloured cushion £32; Large Pineapple Lantern, £30; Patterned Cylinder Vases, from £25; Ornamental Bust, £25; Small Pineapple Lantern, £20; Giraffe Patchwork cushion £42; Sloane  Rug, £140; Octopus Candle Holder, £40; Zebra Cushion, £42, all Abigail Ahern/EDITION at Debenhams.

Lastly, but not least, we asked Abigail a questions that's very close to our hearts...

What makes an ideal home?

My biggest tip when it comes to creating an ideal home is just decorate with pieces that you love, don’t necessarily follow trends – what’s hot or what’s not hot. Just follow your heart. Buy pieces that you love and then you’ll live in a space you'll love forever.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.