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How to cultivate a colourful, creative life the Zeena way

Zeena Shah shares her tips on unlocking creativity, mood-boosting colour choices & her new book, Marbling …

04 December 2022
By: Emily Armstrong
Marbling by Zeena Shah (Quadrille, £15) Photography ©Kristen Perers

Zeena Shah radiates a creative, colourful aura that is especially covetable at this time of year.

The art director, stylist, presenter and author of the 'how-to' book of the moment, Marbling is on a mission to make crafting cool. Zeena's Instagram feed is a riot of colour and creativity and a guaranteed mood-booster. After training as a textiles designer at the Chelsea College of Art, Zeena has turned her creative hand (with signature colourful nails) to many creative ventures - from fashion styling to presenting, designing artwork to writing books. Then there is that Ashish wedding dress - in fact, there are many style moments to admire. Zeena has captured the post-pandemic zeitgeist with a certain positivity we can all get on board with. 

Here we chat with Zeena about finding her colourful stride, how we can cultivate energy from choosing colour in our homes and wardrobes and how to tap into the creativity that is in us all... 

Zeena at her book launch; a page from Marbling.

There is creativity in everyone, all you have to do is have a go. Leave your perfectionist at the door, there's nothing to lose and the benefits of a creative escape are truly incredible...

You inspire us all to lead a more colourful and creative life through your joyful Instagram feed - tell us about your love of creating with and collecting colour - has colour always been integral to your life and style?
Aww I'm so happy to hear that! Colour has always been a really important part of my work, I trained as a textile designer at Chelsea School of Art and would spend hours mixing up dyes and inks for fabric printing. It was there that I really honed my eye for colour and styling.
It's over the last few years that I've been drawn to colour more than ever, seeking and spreading joy and creativity in everything I do. As a natural curator I love to put things together in a beautiful and interesting way, it's often the way I style an outfit or my tablescape but it should always feel joyful.

How does colour bring joy to you in the everyday?
Colour is incredible; it has the power to boost your mood and really bring joy to you and those around you. You can experience the benefit of colour therapy in the simplest of ways from wearing something colourful to setting the mood of your spaces with colour. I love wearing colour as it is so much more fun and makes me feel fabulous. It's also quite addictive so here's to more Dopamine Dressing!

What’s your tip for introducing colour for those who might usually play it safe with neutrals…?
It's never too late to bring colour into your life. Life is too short not to enjoy getting dressed and experience the benefits that colour can bring.
Start small, try wearing colourful socks, paint your nails or go for a brightly coloured handbag. I guarantee it will spark joy and give you a little boost. You'll notice the compliments flood in too.
Don't forget about colour in your home, bring colour in with textiles or paint. It doesn't have to cost the earth either, I love scouring eBay for a colourful trinket and tester paint pots go a rather long way to

Let’s talk about Marbling - your most recent (and third?) book - a wonderfully uplifting and practical guide to getting creative with colour. It’s packed full of projects to do yourself, with friends and family - from marbling lampshades to socks to candles and plant pots and our favourite for this time of year - the gift wrap….

Talk us through some of your favourite projects from Marbling?
There are twenty projects in the book and they might all be my favourite! I really wanted to make sure there was a project for everyone no matter what their skill level. Marbling is the perfect creative craft for someone that doesn't feel very craft confident. It's all about letting yourself go with the inks and the water and enjoying the mindful process.

How do you feel about the success of Marbling?
I am over the moon, it's been a dream come true to write this book and share my love of creativity and colour with everyone. Marbling is on the red list of endangered crafts and I'm so thrilled to be able to bring it into the modern day and reinvigorate this special heritage craft for a modern audience.

You are clearly a very creative person - do you think there is creativity and a ‘maker’ in us all? How do we unlock our creativity?
Absolutely! There is creativity in everyone, all you have to do is have a go. Leave your perfectionist at the door, there's nothing to lose and the benefits of a creative escape are truly incredible.

As a busy art director, stylist, author and presenter - how do you find your energy?
Haha! I often get asked this and when you love what you do there's always energy for it. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do, it's taken me ten years to get to where I am today and seeing my work being enjoyed or inspiring others really keeps me really motivated. I want to inspire your creativity and colour confidence!

And how do you unwind?
To be very honest I am not very good at unwinding and am still trying to find my balance but I have to say that when I'm drawing, designing and making it's art therapy and I really feel so grounded and full of joy (even when there's a paint disaster, I recently split yellow paint all over my newly painted pink studio floor, had to laugh!).

What are you working on right now?
Some very exciting top-secret projects for 2023, I cannot wait to share these. When you're reading this I will be on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch showing the gang how to get Marbling this gifting season.

I love wearing colour as it is so much more fun and makes me feel fabulous. It's also quite addictive so here's to more Dopamine Dressing!

The colourful looks of stylist, author, designer & presenter Zeena Shah courtesy of her Instagram page @heartzeena


Lets Play Favourites with Zeena Shah

Flower - Icelandic Poppies
Scent / Fragrance - Anything Le Labo
Travel destination - Mexico
Place in the UK - Elmley Nature Reserve 
Podcast - Desert Islands Discs are a must listen
Wellness ritual - Craft!
Colour - Pink!
Autumn/Winter essential - Lip Balm
Make-up must have - Red lippy
Music - Taylor Swift - Midnights
Muse - Iris Apfel
Season - Summer
Cause - Choose Love
Fashion designer - Simone Rocha
Era or decade - The 70's
Time of day - Golden Hour
Quote - 'Work hard and be nice to people' - Anthony Burrill

Marbling by Zeena Shah (Quadrille, £15) Photography ©Kristen Perers | other imagery courtesy of @heartzeena

Follow Zeena for her colourful adventures here @heartzeena and order Zeena's new book, Marbling here