We visited the home and studio of Sacha Knight, the creative force behind lifestyle brand Knight Mills. Her Folkestone home, with its Navajo inspired and almost gothic feel, emulates so much of what we see within her branding and collections. We talked to Sacha to find out more about her personal influences and how she created the Knight Mills brand as it is today.
Can you tell us about how you got into the world of design and latterly interiors?
Design in all its guises is just something that I’ve always been into, colours, shapes, detail it’s all so stimulating and when it’s done well it can change your world and improve your life. I grew up with a mum who just threw on a boiler suit and got her hands dirty. She would buy derelict places and just wake them up, making stuff for the home from nothing. She made furniture that she’d upholster herself, built dry stone walls, make curtains/cushions etc, fix up old furniture, make clothes and more, so I guess it’s just in my blood. As a wedding present she asked for a cement mixer so that pretty much sums her up and in turn, me too.
You’ve recently changed focus of your business that saw a name change, can you explain why?
Well when I changed direction I felt a name change would be a good thing to do. I chose Knight Mills’, Knight being my surname obviously and Mills well, I just thought it sounded good and more suited to how my product range has evolved. I’ve since discovered that back in 1910 there was a company based in Utah selling American Indian trade blankets called Knight Mills too, but it is sadly no longer around.
You have had some big name collaborations over the years, can you tell us what your favourite was and why?
I have really enjoyed working on all my collaborations, especially of course on pieces for the Goodhood store over the last 5 years, and being asked to create a T-shirt for Stussy’s 30th Anniversary was an honour.
Who or what would be a dream collaboration and what would you like to make?
I’d like to work with Hiroki Nakamura on print, bags, blankets, rugs… Well pretty much everything and anything really, I would love to make a collection of bags with Goro's silver work as detailing, and I would really like to do a collection of rugs for Ralph Lauren (Colorado ranch house style rather than Manhattan loft, as that would best suit my style).
There always seems to be a strong American theme running through your work whether it be Native American crafts or US military references, can you explain to us why?
I am inspired by vintage military from the Vietnam era because it just looks so darn cool. The insignia, the plane art, the camouflage, the style of uniform, it was the Rock ‘n’ Roll War, also my Grandpa Knight served in Vietnam. As for American Indians well I just adore everything about their ways, their looks, their beliefs, their craft and their lives. I have been into them since I was a tot and my interest has never waned. I like the way that when they kill an animal for food, they pray for the animals spirit and then use every part of that animal, the pelt for clothes/bedding, the sinew for sewing, the fat for waterproofing and warmth, the bones for tools and craft. They are on a higher level. I am a vegetarian but I sometimes use leather for my products also trinkets and beads carved from bone. The leather and bone I use is a by-product of the meat industry, so in my own little way I feel that I am doing my part in ensuring that there is no waste.
Any other reference points you feel strongly influence your work?
Nature, the Occult and Mystery.
You recently moved out of London, how has this move changed your life and do you ever feel you miss the hustle?
Making the decision to move out of London was really so very easy for me as I like space and quiet. The best part of leaving London is living by the sea. I miss my friends, but they visit and I do occasionally miss the ease of just having everything on your doorstep… But do I miss the hustle and bustle of London? I can honestly say I miss it like I’d miss a hole in the head...
We love visiting your house and seeing all the things you have collected. What do you think is your most prized collectable and why?
So much of what clutters my home is important to me, but I would say my prize possessions are my Grandads uniforms, medals and patches from his time with the USAF.
What’s your favourite movie?
I have a few favourites - Night of the Hunter, I love LOVE Robert Mitchum in this as he is just so menacing and very cool looking. The style of the movie is just so perfect too. Apocalypse Now because it’s just ace. And I like silly films too like Kentucky Fried Movie, Fletch and Vacation. I know you didn’t ask but I’m putting it out there anyway.. I really like stand up, Louis CK being a current favourite and anything that Bill Hicks (RIP) ever did.
What’s your favourite music to listen to? What music do you think encapsulates Knight Mills?
Mastadon, Kyass, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, QOTSA (when Nick Oliveri was in the band is my favourite time), Mark Lanegan has the best ‘I eat sand paper and wash it down with 10gallons of whiskey a day voice'. But after all that I also love Classical too, especially when it sounds dark and atmospheric.
I would say anything be it moody sounding classical or bone jangling guitar as long as you feel it in the pits of your stomach then that would best ‘flavour' Knight Mills.
What’s in store for Knight Mills?
I would like to work on more homewares and maybe even furniture and interior design along with expanding my bag line and maybe a few garments.. So a bit of everything really.