When we discovered Eva Sonaike’s eponymous interiors brand, it was love at first sight – and we knew straight away that we wanted her to be part of our Future ICONS family. The former fashion editor draws on her African and German heritage to create luxe soft furnishings in vibrant prints and colourways that instantly transform a room and spark joy.
Identifying a gap in the market for high-end, African-inspired furnishings, Eva launched her brand in 2007, while on maternity leave. What started as a small collection of cushions is now an established and much-coveted offering of pouffes, lampshades and more. Eva’s bold aesthetic extends to her own home and wardrobe, where unique motifs artfully clash with a rainbow spectrum of hues. Dedicated to beautiful craftsmanship and inspired by travel, her collections feature treasures found on her trips to West Africa, Paris and Ibiza, and are filled with sunshine spirit. Inviting team ICONS into her London home one sunny day earlier this summer, the designer talked us through her favourite pieces.
“My style is a combination of 1970s Lagos and Ibiza beach vibes, with some classic Munich elements – a combination of my cultural heritage and the places I have grown up in. I love summer and summer clothing; my wardrobe is full of brightly coloured, patterned and textured pieces that I wish I could wear all year. Like in my designs, I am drawn to colours that speak to me – dusky pinks, bright greens and powdery blues being among my favourites. I grew up in the south of Germany, where people dress in a very traditional way. Every first Saturday of the month, my mum took me to see her personal shopper in a boutique in our town, and this is where my love of fashion started.”
“I have a background in fashion journalism and worked for many years as UK fashion editor of German Elle, Elle Decoration and InStyle, but I’ve always gravitated towards interiors more than fashion. I started the company out of necessity as well as desire, as I never came across any African-inspired, high-end interiors brands that portrayed the style of the Africa I knew; a traditional yet contemporary, elegant, sophisticated and confident Africa. I launched the brand in 2007, while I was on maternity leave, and for the first couple of years ran it in the evenings and at weekends, while also managing fashion desks. After two years, I had to decide between the two. I wanted to run the business full-time and grow it into an internationally recognised brand at the forefront of interior design.”
“I found this kimono at Maison & Objet, one of the largest interiors and home-decor trade shows in Europe. It was displayed at a Dutch bathroom stand and it was love at first sight. I loved it even more when I found out more about the brand, Cofur, which specialises in clothing made from upcycled sari fabric. Every piece is produced by GOTS-certified manufacturers in India, which means fair wages and safe working conditions are secured and discrimination and child labour are banned. I love wearing it over a white bikini on my summer holidays in Greece, or belted and with a pair of heels for a hot summer evening in one of Lagos’s open-air bars.”
“I design all of our prints and the inspiration comes from what I call the ‘West-African way of life’. I have travelled extensively across West Africa, and I’m like a sponge whenever I’m out there, absorbing everything – fashion, textiles, arts, music, nature, architecture, street scenes, basically everything I see and experience. This is then translated back into my designs and mixed with bright colours and hues that bring them to life even more.”
“At only 5ft 4ins tall, I used to be heels or nothing – the higher the better. However, over the years, I have learnt to appreciate the comfort of flats and now live in trainers and slippers. But for a night out, you will see me in heels. I got this pair from Ghanaian designer, Mo Saïque, whose shoes are made in Italy with African fabrics and details. They are super-high, but I love the African print detail and the coral colour, which fits my design ethos perfectly.”
“This dress is made by a German label called Koba.Siani, which I came across on Instagram. Birgit, the designer and founder, upcycles men’s shorts with African fabric to make these cute short dresses. I love that every one is unique, so no one will have that specific style, and I wear it for Saturday-morning strolls on my local high street, where I do my weekly flower shopping.”
“Whenever I am in Lagos, I go to Lekki market, an artisan and craft market on the outskirts of the city. You’ll find sellers from all regions of Nigeria and surrounding countries, selling home decor, jewellery, basketry, fabric, clothing and art. I can spend hours there and have made some amazing contacts over the years. I often source items for interior-design jobs there, as the products are authentic and handmade.”
“The earrings are from Raja, a Nigerian jewellery brand that makes limited-edition pieces. I found these in Tempe Muse, one of my favourite boutiques in Lagos. The owner is a former Selfridges buyer, so the selection is very well curated.”
“The look of my house is a combination of preserving the existing 1930s features and my transcultural upbringing (I am Nigerian Yoruba, born and raised in Germany). From an early age, I was exposed to design and art through my parents’ interests and professions, and home decor has always been a very important part of my life. When we bought our house and planned to transform it into a family living space and all open-plan downstairs, I knew that I would incorporate strong African elements combined with German design.”
“The necklaces are from a French designer, Nadia Dafri. I met her at Maison & Objet design fair and fell in love with her jewellery. Over the years, we’ve developed a friendship and I visit her in her studio whenever I am in Paris. Unfortunately, she discontinued the jewellery range, but now specialises in fashion and homeware. I’ve also bought some of the rugs from her range for my house.”
“I love Wardrobe ICONS and have been an avid reader for many years, so you can imagine how happy I am about the partnership. We wanted to create something unique, so sat down together and came up with the exclusive colour range. Both the Aluro and Ala designs are from my Falomo collection, which is inspired by tropical modernism, an architectural style that was popular in the 1950s and 60s across West Africa. The collection is very geometric and linear, but I am breaking this down with the bright and vibrant colours that remind me of the south of France. The exclusive collection includes our cushions, super-comfortable pouffes and lampshades – all handmade in the UK.”
“I love this outfit. As I am surrounded by a lot of colour and patterns in my work, sometimes I like to play it very simple. The skirt is from & Other Stories and I like wearing it with a white linen T-shirt.”
“Jewellery can transform a simple outfit into something very special, and I love bold statement pieces in bright colours – especially bangles and bracelets. My favourites are my Nadia Dafri bracelets that combine African heritage with Ibiza vibes, and are all handmade in Turkey – how much more international can you be?! But my absolute favourite piece of jewellery is the cocktail ring my dad designed for my 21st birthday. He took me to a jeweller and asked me to choose a stone (I chose a moonstone) and then had it made. I wear it every day.”
“A few years ago, I spoke at a conference on female entrepreneurship in Johannesburg. During a break in the schedule, a few of my fellow speakers and I sneaked out of the hotel and took a trip to Maboneng, a very hip, lively part of downtown Johannesburg. I fell in love with the boutiques, cafes and galleries in the area and bought this Ndebele beadwork bag from an amazing store housed in a transformed factory.”
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