This week we caught up with the incredibly talented Alexandria Dauley,
Alexandria Dauley is an inspirational designer. For years Alex worked in jobs that she enjoyed and focussed on being a mother to her daughters. But never really considered a full time career in Interior Design until she decided to go back to design school and train in the discipline. Alex quickly and perspicaciously carved her niche in the industry, offering comprehensive design and building solutions that take a new, fresh approach to existing spaces. This allows her clients to realise the true potential of their home by creating schemes that offer both beauty and practicality.
In 2020, Alex joined forces with Sophie Ashby to launch United In Design, a charitable organisation set up to address the lack of diversity within the Interior industries. Through a series of opportunities such as Apprenticeships, Work Experience, Mentoring and school outreach, they aim to level the playing field and provide equal opportunities for all. Creating an industry representative of all ethnicities.
This year Alex joined Channel 4’s The Great Home Transformation as a Presenter and Interior Designer alongside Emma Willis and Nick Grimshaw. They set about transforming family homes across the country in just three days. The show showcased innovative, sustainable design solutions for families of all shapes and sizes, homeowners and renters, from all walks of life. To prove that happy homes and inspiring interiors don’t happen accidentally. They happen by design.
So without further ado, let’s dive in to hear more about the path that led Alex to design, how wellbeing is at the forefront of her designs and her incredible charity United In Design.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am 39 and originally from Wales but moved to London nearly 20 years ago after I met my now husband. I live in the suburbs of South London with my 2 daughters, Gareth and a couple of cats. I am obsessed with all things homes and property and very rarely watch or read anything that isn’t related to design, much to everyone’s dismay when trying to talk to me about the latest Netflix drama, that I wouldn’t have seen.
Growing up, I had always been quite creative and loved art, but I never really knew what I wanted to do as a career for a long time. For years I worked in jobs that I enjoyed and focussed on being a mother to my girls, but I didn’t consider a full time career in Interior Design until I decided to go back to design school and train in the discipline.
What inspired you to start your business?
I was working part time at my daughter's school when we renovated our house, and I loved the process so much that I decided I wanted to learn more about Interior Design. I enrolled in an introduction course at KLC School of Design in Chelsea, and that is where it all started and I knew this is what I had always wanted to do. Several courses later, I decided I was too old to start as a junior in a design practice, so I set up my own company with no clients or portfolio, but I had a huge will to succeed, and I knew with hard work and a bit of luck it would all work out.
As well as having your own Interior Design Practice, you are also an Interior Designer on Channel 4’s The Great Home Transformation. What do you love most about your job?
I love the variety that my job offers. No two projects are the same; clients, suppliers and trades are all different, and you are constantly being inspired everywhere you turn. The ability to create and restore homes to their former glory or help a client realise their dream space and solve issues and problems is a huge thrill. I really enjoy working with people, and so much of this job is about relationship building and meeting new people.
You’re an advocate for incorporating wellbeing into your designs; what elements do you use in your designs to accomplish this?
Wellbeing in design is a huge part of what I try to achieve, and I always start by looking at what the issues in the home are first. What problems are being caused, and how is the current space making the clients feel? Making sure a property works for the client and suits their needs and lifestyle is paramount in achieving a sense of wellbeing. Next, we look at materiality and biophilic design principles. Using natural materials and plants helps create a sense of calm and connection to nature.
You are the Co-Founder of United in Design; tell us more about this organisation and why you started it?
United in Design is a charitable organisation started as a result of the murder of George Floyd and the spotlight that shone across the world highlighting racial injustice. Our Interior Design industry was not free of barriers to entry for people from ethnically diverse or socio/economically deprived backgrounds, so it was clear something needed to change. We aim to level the playing field and provide equal opportunities for all, therefore creating an industry that is representative of all ethnicities and open to all through a series of opportunities such as Apprenticeships, Work Experience, Mentoring and school outreach.
Where do you get your interior/styling inspiration from?
I am a huge fan of mid century architecture and design and follow the Bauhaus principle of form follows function. A lot of my inspiration is from this era and design narrative. I find inspiration in so many forms galleries, nature, Pinterest, travel, magazines and fashion. To be honest, I think inspiration is everywhere.
What's the best piece of advice you were ever given?
My mentor told me, “don’t be afraid to say no” I think in life, it’s an important lesson to stay true to yourself and trust your instincts.
If you could learn anything new, what would it be?
I would like to learn another language, maybe Spanish. I didn’t really do languages seriously at school and I would like to travel more extensively so learning some languages would be useful.
Do you have any specific goals you want to achieve this year?
I would like to grow my design team and set up a new design studio/office. I am also hoping to work on more commercial projects with developers and work on new design shows for TV.
How do you balance work and family?
I actually started working for myself so that I would have a better work/life balance. It is always difficult to strike the balance but running my own company and hours means I can choose to have a few hours off when my daughters come back from school and then work later into the evening. The flexibility is what I really like, and it is actually much easier to juggle than having a standard 9-5.
What does a typical day in your week look like?
Every week is different depending on what projects I have running and what stage they are at but typically, I will answer emails in the morning and then have site meetings or supplier meetings from 11am onwards. I can be on site in hard hats and hi-vis, or in showrooms viewing new collections and products. It varies hugely, and that is why it’s so exciting.
Quick Fire Round
Favourite independent interior store: Mrs Robinson in Crystal Palace
Favourite family day out: Visiting family or friends with a nice walk on the beach followed by a good dinner
Favourite place for coffee: I don’t drink coffee, I am a tea drinker :)