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Arrange your stuff like Supermarket Sarah

A few weeks ago, I interviewed the very creative Sarah Bagner, about her brilliant new book Wonder Walls: Supermarket Sarah's Guide to Display (Cico Books), in which she takes a tour around some of her favourite homes, to look at their different approaches to displaying their stuff.

You can see more about the book in this little preview; I also shared her tips for arranging things in my Insider column in the Independent on Sunday's New Review magazine, which you can read here – but here are some images there wasn't room to include, as well as some more of Sarah's ideas. Over to Ms Bagner...

"With collecting there are so many ways of doing it. There’s the Christopher Kelly ‘more is more’ way (see above). I thought that was a great idea: why have one lamp when you can hang 12? He has hung loads of Chinese lanterns over his table, and I think it looks magnificent.

"At the same time – I learnt a lot about curating from Bjorn Springfeldt, former curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm and the Museum of Malmo. He collects in contrasts; that way, he says, it makes it more about the objects. Whereas collecting in collections says more about the person. All his things have a story: he displays things to create drama. For example, on his coffee table he has a sculpture of a massive blood-spattered face; he’s about evoking feelings and wonder, and also questions. And the book is very much about objects as questions and that sense of play – that a lot of the homeowners in it use. 

Fashion designer, Asa Sternerhag, also collects in contrasts (see her desk space, above): it brings out the opposing nature of things. It brings friction, which can create humour and surprise – they are interesting to look at; things don’t have to be ordered and conventional. 

"Walls are about displaying yourself and finding yourself and it’s wonderful to be in someone’s home where that happens; I prefer it when people show you who they are, rather than tell you. It makes being at someone’s home so much more interesting as things become conversation starters.

"I love Asa's little bottles with green shoots in them so you can see the growing roots (also above). It’s nice to have a sequential collection like this – as in; they are all little bottles but they are all different. She likes to have lots of nature in her home which feels good  and encourages growth and makes you feel humble.
A lot of the homes in the book are studio homes. There is always a lot of play in a studio; walls are constantly evolving. Whereas people move into homes and feel the need for them to be done and then remain set in stone. But I love to see things evolve around you and what you are doing – whether that’s throwing a party or reading a book.

The bathroom is a great place to go a bit wild and make it a gallery. You’ll have a captive audience after all. Bjorn does this in his bathroom with the porcelain dog and silicone daisies (see above)… he really has fun with it.

In my own bathroom, it is such a small space but a place where people spend time. And they always really notice what is in there. It’s a great place to play with things, especially things that create friction. With mine it began with a badly painted painting of Churchill – and then we wanted to collect lots of badly painted great men. But then you have to find them… meanwhile we found a badly copied Van Gogh Sunflowers. But you never find enough examples of that one thing so it evolves – and that is part of the story. 

"I love how in Hiroyo Suzuki's place in the book – she is a Tokyo button designer – the walls are covered in layers of fabric instead of paper. In Japan it’s probably easier to do that as they have very thin walls and so it’s easier to just pin stuff to them, but using thin nails should work. I think it looks really beautiful. In her place she has so much stuff but it doesn’t look chaotic because it is so structured." (See above, both images.)

“Many homes in the book are studios; there’s always a lot of play in a studio; walls constantly evolve. People’s homes often remain set in stone, but I love to see things change around what you are doing. It’s wonderful to be in someone’s home where people show you who they are. It starts conversations, and makes being at someone’s home so much more interesting. 

"Rather than do a place up in one go, go slowly. You don’t need to be a stylist – it’s just about developing that confidence to play.”

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