Interview by TJ Forman
Portrait by Danny Sangra
Photography by Agnes Lloyd-Plat, Michael Bodiam & Gary Didsbury
Originally published in Issue No. 3 / FW2018
Sarianne Plaisant is an accomplished prop stylist who works magic in product shoots, advertising, and magazine editorial. Born just outside of London (Surrey), raised by Finnish and French parents in a small Midlands (UK) town, she values her upbringing in the idyllic English countryside. Like most who grew up outside a major metro area, her surroundings pushed her to work hard so that she could travel, using any restlessness she had to steer her ambition. Her father’s work as a carpenter influenced her love of
furniture as well as her proviso of good design. Here’s her personal take on “knolling” a space, OCD and more.
TJ Forman (TJF) — Do you prefer to call yourself a prop stylist, or something more comprehensive like creative stylist?
Sarianne Plaisant (SP) — I call myself a set designer or prop stylist as it defines what I do in a wide creative field. Sometimes when people hear “stylist” they think you style clothes so it’s always good to keep “prop” on the title. In past projects, I’ve been asked to source swimwear for a model and had to explain that it isn’t what I do. There are so many terms and roles now that it can be confusing but also it’s nice that roles can crossover.
TJF — How would you describe what you do to someone who does not know what a prop stylist is?
SP — Although the role of a prop stylist can be very broad, it’s working with objects and creating a composition through shapes. I work in a wide range of areas; still-life photography, fashion photography, music videos, short films, feature films and event design, so every job is different. Generally, my workflow is coming up with a concept, designing the set, sourcing props and then styling on the set or location.
TJF — How did you get into this profession?
SP — I studied Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design and specialized in photography and film but ended up making a sculpture for my final piece. Looking back, this was a true indication of where my career was headed as I would end up mixing all these areas. After university I had lots of jobs like window dressing, visual merchandising and photography assistant, but none of them felt quite right. It wasn’t until I assisted a set designer that I was introduced to a career that I didn’t know existed and I was inspired to pursue it. After a few years I began working on my own shoots. Once you work with a few photographers or brands, people start to recommend you and the work comes in. It’s not always easy but when you believe in what you do and give it your all I don’t think you can fail.
TJF — I love this positivity, where do you think you get it? Your parents were creative entrepreneurs, was it them?
SP — It’s definitely from them. I watched them start their own businesses and work together to create a life for themselves where they didn’t have to answer to anyone. It never looked or seemed like work but I understood that it wasn’t always easy and was non-stop. We rarely made plans and our holidays were always last minute so it’s not surprising that this is how I live my life now.
TJF — Do you still make sculptures, or do you collect any? Are there any designers you admire?
SP — I feel I still make sculptures in my prop styling projects, where I work with so many different textures and objects. It’s all about the placement and arrangement to create a three-dimensional piece which I believe is sculpture. One of my favorite artists is Donald Judd. His modular and minimal approach has definitely influenced my work and home aesthetics. Growing up with a Finnish Mum, you can’t help but be influenced by Scandinavian design so I love Artek and of course American designers Charles & Ray Eames. I recently bought a house in London, so I finally get to order all the pieces I have been dreaming of for years.
Visit Sarianne Plaisant