June 2, 2015

Stylist and self-confessed flower fanatic Joanna Valmai Wills opened the doors for us to peruse her Manor House flat. White walls act as a blank canvas for the vases and floral arrangements littered around, stacks of fashion photography books and hordes of vinyl. We curled up in her garden and bathed in the sunshine to find out more.

UO: What’s your favourite room or area in your house?

Joanna: Either the living room or the garden. I like to keep my bedroom quite minimal so I store all my decorative flower creations, books, magazines and favourite things in the living room. It’s the best place to chill and relax and the room I spend the most time in. However, I do love my garden as it’s a sun trap! It’s the perfect place to work and it’s full of flowers which I love. I shot an editorial in my garden as it’s so picturesque. It’s also a great size for garden parties.

Shop: Urban Grow Plant Hanger in Black and Alphabet Letter Mug

UO: What’s your favourite thing to do at home?

Joanna: I love cooking delicious food and hanging out with my boyfriend and friends.

UO: What do you think no home should be without?

Joanna: Flowers and coffee.

Shop: Medium Shrek Planter in Green, Staring at Stars Embroidered Blouse and BDG Mid-Rise Ankle Cigarette Jeans.

UO: Where do you like to buy things for your house?

Joanna: Anywhere that catches my eye! But mainly independent boutiques and Liberty, as well as markets and charity shops for unique, one-off pieces.

UO: We can see you like collecting flowers, books and vinyls. What are you obsessed with the most?

Joanna: Flowers, definitely. I’ve always had a fascination with flowers and anything floral since I can remember. I think it stemmed from my first ever trip to Liberty, I just love it there. Whether it’s in my home, on my outfit, my accessories, bags or my hair, I always have something floral on me. Even my perfume bottles are in some sort of floral design. But I do love my books and magazines too; I can spend hours flicking through the fashion, photography and interiors books and magazines that I’ve collected over time. My ideal Sunday evening would be reading them all in either my living room or the garden.

UO: What would your dream house look like?

Joanna: A big open plan space with lots of windows, painted floral tiles and a deep, free-standing bath in my bedroom.

UO: How did you start your career as a stylist?

Joanna: I started interning and assisting for a couple of years, then I started at a new magazine where I had the chance to shoot my own stories. This is when I began to develop my own style, which helped me to create my portfolio.

Shop: Light Before Dark Sleeveless Blazer

UO: Where do you seek inspiration?

Joanna: I seek inspiration from books and magazines, researching amazing photographers and checking out window displays. My favourite displays are at Liberty, Browns and Selfridges. Dover Street Market, the National Theatre costume hire warehouse and Pebble London are always amazing to visit for inspiration too! Flea markets and car boot sales are great for styling pieces and props as well. I suppose I find inspiration everywhere. I’m always walking past places thinking about location ideas and finding interesting props. Even when I’m shopping for myself I’ll always find something for work.

UO: What advice would you give to aspiring stylists?

Joanna: Assist stylists that you admire, you learn so much that way. Believe in yourself. Work hard. Be nice. Meet photographers. Network.

UO: Does your work influence your space?

Joanna: Yes, I love to work in the garden. It’s quiet and calm which gives me space to think and plan all of my ideas.

Finish this statement:

If I were a colour, I’d be… yellow.
If I weren’t a stylist, I’d be… a florist!
My ideal breakfast is… a pan au chocolate, granola and yoghurt and a good strong coffee.
My favourite homewares era is…‘60s and ‘70s Aztec style.
The item in my house with the best story is… There are a few – I have a customized table, lamp shades and pillows that were all made by my mum.
I’m currently listening to… MO and FKA Twigs.
My ideal Sunday is… hitting the flower market, grabbing a coffee and meeting friends for a drink.
My biggest release is… a bubble bath, yoga and an ice cold gin and tonic with lots of lime.