Posts Categorised: Interviews

Inspire Me – With Rosie Ramsden, Author of The Recipe Wheel

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Today, I feel really lucky to be sharing with you, an interview with Rosie Ramsden,  author of the Recipe Wheel, who also illustrates the book beautifully too. 

You may well have seen this book in stores as it is doing so well and the cover is so colourful and unique – let alone the content. 

The premise is 120 recipes using 10 inspirational  wheels that both savoury and sweet. So many fantastic dishes to try out.

Rosie Ramsden interview on Lucy Loves Ya

Rosie, you’re an author, cook, food stylist and an artist – which came first and what inspired it ?

I painted a lot in my school years but it was only when I started working in food that I found that cooking inspired me to paint more, having so many beautiful ingredients to work with – particularly painting still life of food. When I can’t paint, its the food styling that satisfies my creative side.

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Your book ‘ The Recipe Wheel ‘ is such a genius and fresh way of looking at  food and cooking – how did you come up with it ?

Thank you so much ! The Recipe Wheel reflects how I think about cooking: I start with something I know, then I use that to develop a recipe; to think how I could make it more interesting, delicious, colourful. The more I cook though, the bigger my own personal recipe wheel becomes, but it gives me a lot more scope for coming up with fresh ideas.

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I was immediately drawn to The Recipe Wheel book by the colour on the front. How important was this in the overall look and feel ?

Colour is an important aspect to cooking, as it tends to be the more colourful ingredients, namely vegetables, that inspire us to start cooking. More importantly though, I felt that the colours in the wheel helped to engage imagination and encourage the reader to explore their own ways of cooking.

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Will you be writing and illustrating any more books ? If so when can we expect to see them on the shelves ? 

I would love to at some point. I’m waiting to find an idea that really makes me want to write. In the meantime, I’m food styling and writing and painting for other people which is so valuable for experimenting with flavours and exploring recipes, before venturing into something new of my own.

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With your styling work – how long does it take to prepare to set up shots ? How do you make it look so effortless  ? 

The time a shot takes completely depends on how long the recipe takes to cook beforehand, or how long it can stay on set before it starts to wilt. It depends on the light for the photographer and how the plate looks as a whole. Somethings are instant – a quick one shot triumph – and some can take all day..! I usually find that the less time something takes to get right, the better it looks.

Of course, I’m intrigued as to what your home is like ? How would you describe your own interior style ? 

It is cluttered with paintings, cups, saucers, flowers, paint brushes and rugs ( and now children’s toys ) but I always make sure there are spaces for calm, too. I like to call it organised mess… Light is essential for me. I can’t bear a dark room, unless it is filled with lamps. The walls are all pale and muted, but there is colour in everything else. No black, but greys and reds and woods.

Being a Mum, how do you combine everything and what’s a perfect family day for you ?

I can safely say on behalf of my whole family that food tends to be the centre of everything we do. Mealtimes mark pauses in chaos, and give us a chance to spend time together. We are lucky that there’s always a full fridge at home, and living in Hackney a good restaurant is never far out of reach! In between food, I love putting Thom on the back of my bike and whizzing around Victoria Park. If there’s a beach or a river nearby then I’ll hopefully swim in it, and being outdoors, husband / baby / dog in tow, is my idea of heaven.

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Can you give some advice to any aspiring creative people who dream of writing their own book one day ? ( including me ! ) 

The more you write or cook or eat or think about food, the more the ideas will flow. Sometimes there are knockbacks but that shouldn’t distract you from trying. Talk to people for their advice, and be prepared for hard work that is utterly fulfilling and fun !

Thanks, Rosie. I completely take my hat off to your talent and work ethic.

Having already tried some of the recipes here – I can totally recommend this book and aesthetically, it’s a talking piece in itself !

Hope you’ve enjoyed the interview and let me know what you think of it, if you buy the book too or leave me a comment just for the fun of it under this post with your thoughts. Would love to hear from you as ever … :) 

Have a good one.

Lucy x

Photo copyright credits: 1 – Lizzie Mayson. 2 & 3 – Lucy Gleeson ( the colour wheel graphics on the front page book are by Will Webb ).  4  & 5 – Rosie Ramsden. 6 – Maja Smend for Delicious Magazine. 7 – Tara Fisher for Thomasina Mier’s upcoming book, Home Cook, Faber and Faber. 8 – A Tess Ward Recipe Fabulous Magazine by Ria Osbourne. 

Interview: Interior Expert Sophie Robinson

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I have a little interview here with Sophie Robinson whom you may well know as a judge on BBC2s Great Interior Design Challenge and Home Expert TV Presenter on ITV’s This Morning –  who can fill you in on just how she achieves all of the above.

Have you ever wondered how an interior designer balances an interior design career and home life … along with tv presenting, interior styling and running colour courses.

I’m a fan of Sophie’s work so it is a real pleasure to be featuring her here today on ‘ Inspire Me’ … 

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Sophie, Was it always your plan to become an interior designer ?

I was always passionate about doing up my bedrooms as a young kid and that quickly spread to other rooms in the house. My mum is hugely creative and that really had a positive impact on me. She was also really encouraging and gave me free reign to design my bedroom and help with other areas too. She really nurtured my creativity and gave me confidence. She did such a good job that my brother Edward Robinson is an interior stylist too !

You’ve just moved in to a lovely new house. What made you fall in love with it and is this your forever home ? 

Yes I think it will be our forever home. We’ve been working hard and saving like mad to get here. It’s a four-bedroom farmhouse in the Sussex country and we have 5 acres of paddock and garden, then surrounded by 100acres of ancient woodland so yes- it’s pretty dreamy ! The house however is a bit charmless so my husband, who’s conveniently a builder, and myself are going to really relish the design. The house isn’t listed so we’re hoping we can really release our creativity on it. We’re up for a big remodel !

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There are some fabulous colour trends this year – are you working with them a lot ?

Colour trends come and go and I’m always fascinated to know what they are but as a devout colour lover I’m never greatly swayed. Over years I’ve developed my own colour palette and I like to work with that. However I love the way trends can shake me out of a style rut and encourage me to try something new.

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The ultimate question – what is your favourite colour ?

Neon pink. That was hard.

When working with clients on their home designs – do you help people develop their style or do most people already know what they are looking for?  

Some people have a very strong idea of what they like and others don’t have a clue. The true skill of an interior designer is to draw out the individual’s style and taste and then make it work in their home. 

How did you get in to television presenting ?

It’s pure luck ! My first job was on ITV’s 60 minute makeover and one of the researchers went to Art College with my brother and invited me to screen test. I find in this industry it’s really important to make good connections with everyone you meet, and do a good job. Being self employed you’re only ever as good as your reputation. One of the directors on 60 MM was, almost 10 years later, casting for judges on GIDC and put my name in the pot.

Can you pick a favourite room from the many you have judged on the Great Interior Design Challenge ? 

No !
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Do you find it easy to balance work and home life? If so, please do tell us how … ? :)

No I do not. It’s a nightmare. After filming three series with loads of time away from home and moving house and having an incredibly busy first 6 months of this year I’ve decided to take a break. My health was suffering and it’s not worth it. So I’m taking the school summer holidays off to spend with my son and nest in my new home. Sometime you have to honour the power of No and get some control back. I think watching your children grow up has to be the most important thing. Although I love my career so don’t panic, I’m not going anywhere, just dialling it down for a bit.

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You’re currently working with This Morning and Good Morning Britain on ITV, offering ideas for home makeovers. 

Yes that has been great fun. Live TV is very different to pre-recorded stuff. The amount of work and organising that goes into 5 minutes of live broadcast is insane ! But the This Morning crew are just so delightful as are Holly and Phil.

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As well as working with clients and presenting (and of course being a Mum), you also run courses. Who would you recommend them for ?

I run Interior Design Master classes with Daniel Hopwood, which are a great day for anyone who’s passionate about interiors. Our guests include people who’d like to go into it as a career or maybe currently studying. Then there are plenty of people who are doing up their own home and are looking for ideas and knowledge and also people who want a lovely day out and a nice lunch ! I also run courses on Colour, which is a more hands on, and creative workshop with ideas to update your home or your wardrobe. There are more dates coming up in the autumn and you can book on our Eventbrite page.

What is the best bit of advice you can give to any budding interior designers or presenters ? 

If you want to become an interior designer you need training. In today’s professional market interior designers have high levels of qualifications and computer skills. If you want to set up your own company rather than work for someone else, you’ll need not only interior design but also business training. It’s a very competitive industry and you need grit to make it ! As for becoming a TV presenter, that’s much harder to orchestrate. I’d aim to becoming the best in your field, make sure you are visible on social media so that when casting directors are looking for new talent, your profile sticks out. It probably would be a good idea to do YouTube videos too. Then make sure you have another career to fall back on, as TV is notoriously fickle !

We’re already in August (wow !) – what do you have planned for the rest of 2016 ? 

I’ve been flat out for the first part of this year so I’m going to take it easy over the summer. I’ve just started working with a business coach and my focus is growing my brand and my social media platforms so I can have the enviable life of flexible working hours, where and when I like ! While continuing to inspire people to get creative in their own spaces by sharing all the know-how I’ve accrued over the years. Watch this space !

Thanks, Sophie. Fantastic advice regarding the world of television  – and your love of colour is truly inspiring. 

If you’re interested in Sophie and Daniel’s courses – then do click on that link. I rather fancy it myself.  You can also follow her Youtube channel here and her lovely colourful instagram page here.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with Sophie – do leave a comment or tweet me @lucylovesyablog with your thoughts and also what colour combinations work for you in your home ? 

Have a good one.

Lucy x

Image credits: 1. Luca Sage. 2,3,4, 5 & 7 by Alan Callender. 6 by Sophie Robinson.

You can also follow me on Pinterest here.

Interview With Liberty London Textile Designer Sarah Campbell

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If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know very well how much I love Liberty London Prints so can you imagine my surprise and excitement when the lovely people who represent textile designer Sarah Campbell got in touch for a meeting with her.

Sarah and her sister, Susan founded textile design company Collier Campbell in the 60s, collaborating with Liberty, Habitat, Marks & Spencers to name a few. They also inspired Yves Saint Laurent on his first off the peg clothing line.

Today, Sarah is working with West Elm, Michael Miller Fabrics and also teaching workshops in London.

There is also an exhibition with many of their prints, currently running at The Fashion and Textiles Museum, exploring Liberty’s impact on British fashion …

How did you originally become a textile designer ?

I grew into it, almost behind my own back ! My sister, Susan Collier, had already begun her career as a textile designer in her early twenties and was also a mother of two small girls; she ‘ got busy ‘ and asked me to come and help. As I could draw and was an obliging younger sibling – I did. I was a teenager, and had no ambition to be a designer, or even anything ‘ artistic ‘ at all, but it turned out well – I had a feel for it – and we continued our working partnership for 50 years.

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You’ve had an incredible career so far with Collier Campbell and now working as Sarah Campbell Designs, spanning over 5 decades – what have been your highlights and challenges since you first started ? 

Yes, we had a wonderfully productive career together and with our marvellous studio. Maintaining a business based on ‘ creativity ‘ is quite a challenge in itself, and the fact that there were two of us to withstand and share the slings and arrows was definitely important.

Some of the highlights have come as awards from our peers and the industry, the most prestigious of which was The Duke of Edinburgh’s Design Prize in 1984, given for our Six Views Collection. We were the first women to win this, and apart from one other, the only ones in its 52-year history – which is rather shocking.

There have been many feelings of achievement, and many knock-backs too. Looking from where I am now I think the whole collaboration with my sister and our extraordinary body of work is a tremendous cause for pride. There is a lovely book published about our years and work together – ‘ The Collier Campbell Archive ‘. I meet all sorts of people who tell me about patterns of ours that they’ve lived with and cherished over the years, and I feel very pleased that those fabrics went out there and did their jobs so well!

My challenge now is to continue solo, as I have been since Susan’s death in 2011, to invent and celebrate new and interesting patterns – I’m fortunate to be doing just this, and long may it last !

How have you managed to keep your feet on the ground with such a busy life and so many high profile collaborations ?

I’m not sure that I have always kept my feet on the ground … I think that maintaining busy-ness and good working relationships probably requires one to balance the fabulous flights of fancy with being pretty down-to earth; that takes acrobatic experience ! Children are helpful – watching the saturday football matches in the rain is an excellent exercise in remaining steady – especially when it’s muddy ! Susan and I saw ourselves as jobbing designers, which is a service as well as an inspiration – we earned our living by painting patterns, and I still do; as such income is determined by customers – generally very good levellers ! Success is so exciting and heady – but things can change quickly and there are no laurels upon which to rest for very long …

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Collier Campbell inspired Yves Saint Laurent’s first ever ‘ off the peg ‘ clothing. What was it like working with one of the greatest ever fashion designers ? 

I have to clarify here: the original company Collier Campbell company wasn’t formed until 1979 / 80. All our work prior to that ( Liberty, early Habitat, Soiries Nouveautees etc ) was produced under our own names. When it came to YSL –  he was an established customer of Liberty of London Prints, the then wholesale arm of Liberty. Having said that, it was incredibly exciting when the European salesman Gilbert Saada told us that St Laurent wanted our prints. We had done a series of very freely painted folk-inspired patterns, and one in particular – patterned bands with a bird – took his fancy. It suited the Gipsy look that he was developing for his first off-the-peg collection – very Matisse and Russian blouse. But he didn’t want the birds ! So we repainted it, and made a little group of designs to be printed on Liberty’s lovely Tana lawn cotton; these then formed an integral part of his first famous ready-to-wear fashion collection. We loved painting those patterns, and went to it with gusto – and lots of singing and dancing ! The fact that one of the greatest French couturiers wanted our designs was a tremendous confirmation of our belief in the hand-painted, spontaneous look that we were developing ( among many others ).

Has your design process changed over the years ? If so, how ?

In essence I still hand-paint my designs in repeat as I always have done, and for the most part I use gouache on paper.  But added to that – for one of my customers I often send sketches, constructions and ideas in different mediums for them to work up for their own particular needs and products.

The process of translation and reproduction has changed: when we started, each colour would be hand-traced by the engraver to make each separate screen or roller. In the early days we often had to stop engravers from ‘ tidying up ‘ our paintbrush marks ! Every colourway was painted and balanced, and the skilful eye of the printer in matching was integral to the success of the cloth. Nowadays designs are scanned, separated and colour-matched by computer – though in the case of my work the starting point remains the same – the hand-painted mark. One of the advantages of digital printing is that each nuance of colour and gesture can be translated onto the cloth should one wish it, whereas traditionally conventional printing is about understanding flat colour and screens. These are different skills – but all worthwhile and full of adventure.

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Where do you find your inspiration ? 

Everywhere really; I can’t stop things jumping into my eye, or setting me off on a train of investigation. New briefs can send me seeking new materials – brushes, papers, techniques, types of paint – which in themselves bring their own inspiration. And particular requests often require research. But there’s nothing like just starting with a clear surface and the hint of an idea waiting to grow – they can push me down all sorts of self-inspirational alleys !

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When working on projects for brands – are you generally given a free rein with your ideas ?

Customers each have their own particular identities and needs, their place in the market and their history. I think people come to me for a fresh point of view about colour and pattern, and a skill in its execution – to see what I’ll make for them. Customers often say one thing, but in the course of a conversation may be unconsciously stroking a piece of paper with quite another thing on it – that’s the pattern they’re really drawn to ! It’s worth remembering – and listening very hard – in order to be able to use one’s skill to bring it all together and take a step forward at the same time. And if someone can never sell green, for instance, it’s a good idea to take note… but not necessarily to leave it at that …

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The Liberty in Fashion Exhibition is celebrating 140 years of the company. How do you think Liberty have had such a strong impact for so long, with their fashion and interior prints ?

9 liberty dolls 2015It’s an interesting question; certain names hold their magic for a long time through thick and thin, the ups and downs of fashion and the market. To start with, the word itself –  liberty – has special meaning and significance, a freedom to which we may all aspire.

The first Mr Liberty began his company with a clear position – providing beautiful cloth, interesting patterns, considered design, artistic integrity. He had a real feel for his customers and from the start he appealed to a particular clientele who shared these values. The company also achieved the remarkable feat of selling cloth, via both retail and wholesale, to everyone from your granny to Yves St Laurent – as the exhibition shows so well. But I think the secret of their success is that they have maintained their standards in design, quality, colour and have stood by their original commitment to excellence in cloth and pattern, newness and tradition – and there are very many customers who feel the same way and want to be able to be part of that.

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What are you currently working on ?

Yesterday I sent off the latest batch of ideas and sketches to WestElm in Brooklyn for their spring / summer ’17 ranges; for the last three years or so I’ve worked for them for ten days each month developing new ideas and solutions to their briefs. It’s a really lovely collaborative job, and so exciting to see what they make of my work.

Today on my table is the new collection for Michael Miller Fabrics, actually for this summer; it’s our third together, and I’m busy completing the repeats just now. These gorgeous cottons are sold into the home-sewing and quilting market and are available worldwide; I so enjoy making a range and seeing the yardage coming through with its different colourways. I’d like to have the time and wherewithal to make some quilts myself – I’m often sketching plans for them; we have made some adorable art dolls with the fabrics though.

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I’m also completing the preparations for teaching at West Dean next week; running short courses and workshops is something new I’ve been doing in the last few years and I really enjoy it. This one will be exploring pattern – how it works and how to make it. I teach painting directly onto cloth as well, both silk and cotton, and have several courses lined up at Bradness Gallery in the spring and summer, and at Morley College in the next academic year. And I’m invited back to Guadalajara to teach there again later in the year – exciting. Oh, and I’m hoping to run a flag-&-banner-making workshop in the Herefordshire woods later in the year…

Then there’s the next blog to write and illustrate – something I do every three weeks or so and due any day now. And a commission to hand-paint some curtains; I have to admit this has been waiting its turn for some time and now I’m just about ready !

I’m planning a new collaboration specifically with upholstery in mind using both printed and hand-painted linen on particular pieces. And I’m always sampling new products for our on-line shop – scarves, cards, painted creatures …

 

13 bedouin stripe scarf 2015And although the design work for this range was done a little while ago I’m really looking forward to our new collection of ceramics and homewares coming on the market any minute now. It’s called Viva ! and brings an abundance of colourful geometrics to the dining table – and the tea – tray.

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Can you give any advice to anyone wanting a career in textile design ?

Love pattern, listen to your customer, enjoy being useful !

Thank you so much to Sarah for sharing her inspirations and advice. Do you have a favourite Liberty London print ?

If you’d like to have a look at her website. Here it is – Sarah Campbell Designs.

Have a good day.

Photo credits: Image 1, copyright of Virginie Guiriaboye. Image 5 copyright of Polly Eltes ‘as seen in Period Living Magazine’. All others images copyright of Sarah Campbell.

You can find more inspiration over on my instagram.

Interview – V & A Museum Curators Divia Patel and Rosemary Crill

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Have you ever wondered how exhibitions at the V & A Museum are put together ? I did a little interview with the Curators Divia Patel and Rosemary Crill  as I’ve been intrigued, after an amazing cocktail event laid on by Good Earth ( more on that in a bit ) at the Fabric of India Exhibition, 

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You have a dream job . How did you get in to curating at the V & A ?

DP: I did an MA in South Asian History and Anthropology at SOAS.

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What inspired the India Festival ?

RC: We are holding the India Festival, a series of exhibitions, displays, events and digital initiatives that will explore the rich and varied culture of South Asia, to celebrate the 25thanniversary of the opening of the Museum’s Nehru Gallery, which displays some of the most important objects from the V&A’s South Asian art collection produced between the 16th and 19th centuries.

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For your exhibition, you have a  team including a Sound Designer, Project Manager, Exhibition Designer as well as yourselves on the ‘ Fabric of India ‘ – how do you all work together to make it all happen ?

DP: Lots of people are involved in V&A exhibitions from many different departments in the Museum. Whilst the curators decide on the narrative of the show and what objects will be on display, getting the exhibition ready involves a huge number  of people; a design team, builders, the exhibitions team to manage the logistics, conservation experts, technical experts, as well as the curators. We all work closely together, many several years in advance.

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I especially admired the collection is the Chikankari Sari. Do you have a personal favourite as Curators ? 

RC: Although I love and admire the beautiful historic pieces made for the Mughal emperors and other rulers, I am very fond of the simpler pieces in the ‘Nature and Making’ section of the exhibition. These have such understated elegance, even if they are completely plain – they all have their own special texture or weave, and it’s a delight to be able to give them their moment of fame.

DP: I love so many things in the exhibition that it is difficult to pick a favourite. For me the sari that opens the show, the Houndstooth sari by Abraham and Thakore is special because it so elegant and simple but says so much about the continuing traditions of India and how they can still be relevant.

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Are all the exhibits donated ?

RC: Some of the exhibitions have been kindly loaned by institutions or donations around the world, whilst many are from the V&A’s own extensive collection. These have mostly been purchased over the years, but a considerable number have been given as donations.

Good Earth are supporting the exhibition  – this seems to be the perfect collaboration ?

DP: Yes, it is ! The V&A and Good Earth are delighted that the brand is a sponsor of the exhibition. Good Earth’s celebration of the heritage of India and support of traditional crafts means they are a fitting sponsor and understand the story the V&A is trying to tell.

Will visitors also be able to purchase their products online from the V & A ?

DP: The V&A Shop are also celebrating the V&A India Festival with a beautiful range of products inspired by rich Indian culture. A range of Good Earth designs will be on sale in the V&A Shop and via vandashop.com

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There will be a series of events over the next few months for the Festival, exploring South Asia – what will this involve ?
RC: There’s lots more Festival activity. For The Fabric of India there’s a Friday Late in November, a special conference, and talks and workshops (visit vam.ac.uk/whatson for more information). We also have our next major exhibition Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection opening on 21 November, which will present around 100 spectacular objects from or inspired by the jewellery traditions of the Indian subcontinent.

Many thanks to Curators Divia and Rosemary. I want their job ! :)

If you get a chance to visit during the festival  – you must go. The experience is amazing and I particularly loved the atmospheric music.

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As I mentioned a little earlier … the party at the V & A was nothing short of stunning. An aroma of pure jasmine and rose petal oils filled the room and the soft but colourful lighting was incredibly warm and elegant.

I drank alcohol free lychee cocktails ( wow,very palatable .. ) while my friend enjoyed the champagne.

Lots of women wore exquisite saris that made my eyes dance with happiness  – and there were pretty lanterns and rose petals beautifully scattered over the tables.

This was all a gift to all to the invited guests from Good Earth, the Home Decor company who are sponsoring the exhibition. I already knew of them as I have had my eye on their quilts for some time… especially the Champaka Muslin Razai one. :)

They are now established globally after being known across India for their luxury, hand crafted, unique designs. Sustaining tradition and ecology is a priority for them, which really appeals to me too. I love that each design holds a significance and has a story behind it.

I was lucky enough to take away a few of their pieces in my bag on the night. The book above is full of dreamy colours and inspiration.

Good Earth Mug

The mug is fine bone china and decorated with 24 carat gold. I’m enjoying some mint tea in it. Bliss.

GoodEarth Napkins

I’ve never seen sheer, delicate, cocktail napkins like this before. Do you like them ? They are in an aqua marine blue and cinnamon and hand block printed. What a treat.

Good Earth Products

Can’t wait to pop this Peacock Ornament on our Christmas tree. Apparently it is made by soldering fine wires together to make intricate lace like patterns, that originated during the Roman period. The technique is called Filigree.

How did I find out these little nuggets of information ? All of the products have a little information card with them. How cool is that ?

Hope you’ve enjoyed my post ? What kind of exhibitions inspire you ? Leave me a comment or tweet me @lucylovesyablog …

Lucy x

The Fabric of India, supported by Good Earth India, with thanks to Experion and Nirav Modi, is at the V&A from 3 October, vam.ac.uk/fabricofindia

Photographs 1-7 copyright of V & A 2015. Photos 8 – 11 are taken by me – Lucy Loves Ya.

Interview with Kim Parker and Clarke & Clarke

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I’m very lucky, to have recently do na interview with award winning lifestyle designer, Kim Parker, who is collaborating with Clarke & Clarke on a stunning, colourful range of wallpapers and fabrics which will be launching at Decorex – and couldn’t wait any longer to show you a preview of their beautiful floral designs …

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What is your background? How did you become an artist ?

I grew up in a home surrounded by great music, art, ballet, and a love for Nature. My family are all serious classical musicians. By the time I was two years old my parents were already saving my drawings of clowns and flowers and putting them together in a book. It was evident early on that color was a driving force for me.  I used to dig my crayons deeply into the paper to get the maximum richness of color out of them. Having come from a musical family I started studying the flute by the time I was eight years old. I pursued my life as a classical concert flutist -graduating with a degree in Flute Performance from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. I had many rich experiences as a classical musician, playing publicly in masterclasses with Jean Pierre Rampal by the time I was thirteen, and spending memorable summers playing in an orchestra at Tanglewood where I had the great privilege of working closely with Leonard Bernstein, who happened to be my musical hero. My life seemed destined for a career in music. But in between concerts and practicing, I was usually painting quietly. I would just sit for hours at my desk reeling out designs in exuberant colors. It came so naturally to me. I had absolutely no idea throughout my childhood and even after college, that I could make a living as a textile designer. I didn’t even know there was an actual “field” for this! It was not part of the dialogue in our home.

It was not until my late twenties that I started to pursue a career in textile design. It was hard to cross this emotional bridge and leave my early career as an accomplished musician behind, but taking auditions for orchestral positions and living out of a suitcase somehow didn’t resonate for me altogether. I was literally starting over in a whole new creative path. My story was chronicled in my first art and design book, “Kim Parker Home: A Life in Design.” (Abrams) Entering into the design industry with just a small book of hand painted textile prints each no larger than the palm of my hand, in retrospect, took courage. I worked in the fashion industry painting in numerous design studios for a period, then moved on to start my own print design company, “Kim Parker Designs” where I sold my hand painted prints on silk and paper to hundreds of fashion companies such as: DKNY, Jill Stuart, Gap, Anna Sui, to Anthropologie. After seeing the success my designs were having when appearing in other people’s collections, my husband Felipe ( and business partner ) felt we should move in the direction of creating a brand.

I think “becoming an artist” is a lifelong process, something that hopefully continues to evolve and grow. I know that my earlier career as a classical musician really provided me with a very strong and unique foundation for my life in design. I was not coming from an “academic” art background. I didn’t graduate with a degree from FIT or Parsons. My life in design was something that was developing organically. Every step of the way there were challenges and I held tightly I guess to my own style and voice, which was very unschooled. I think I preferred a career in design to one in music because I simply had more creative freedom of expression. With all the beautiful music living inside of me though, I was able to express these harmonies and rhythms by freely composing gardens. I was exploring my own idiom; incorporating a rich sonic vocabulary with pigment in a tapestry of flowers and leaves. This freedom and passion never gets old to me. It’s a form of story telling.

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How did your collaboration come about with Clarke & Clarke ?

My agent showed me a Clarke & Clarke ad in one of the industry design magazines with some beautiful fabrics and wallpapers. We both agreed that it felt like a good potential licensing partner to pursue. When we met Emma and Lee Clarke for the first time here in New York in our showroom, we spent seven hours carefully going through a massive archive of my hand painted silk, linen and paper designs together. Those seven hours felt like two hours. The mutual enthusiasm and decisions as to which designs would become our first collection was a magical exchange. It’s really important to work with a company that supports and understands your vision artistically. It was Creative Director Emma Clarke’s idea to create the “Artbook” instead of the usual mix and match types of fabric and wallpaper books you so often find in decorator showrooms. She really understood what had gone into each and every “child” I had painted, seeing their souls so to speak. Lee and Emma appreciated their exuberant colors and energies. After careful selection and deliberation, we all agreed on the vision for the “Artbook” collection.

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Who and what inspired your designs for the collaboration ? 

Each design in this collection was actually created at different times in my life. I will say though that the cover child, “Rosina” was painted while listening to the music of Argentine composer Astor Piazzola. I love his music and feel the flowers are dancing tango. “Martine” was originally painted on French linen many years ago. It was one of my favorite designs that I felt would one day have her platform. Other designs such as “Ariadne’s Dream” were wilder explorations on paper with gouache, created at a time when I was literally living in my box of paints. It’s pure fantasy. I love them all, to be honest. I feel like a mother who has all of these kids who have grown up to be true to themselves, and for that, I am proud. None conform to an industry standard, and all, I can assure you, were painted from the heart.

floral print fabric colours

I love the names you have chosen for the collections. Are they names after people you know?

Naming my work is actually one of the great pleasures and liberties I have as a designer. Some of the names have very personal connections, while others just explore the sensual nature of language. I decided to give them mostly girl names because obviously flowers are usually associated with the feminine. ( but I love when men wear flowers! ) I am a fan of Greek mythology, so there are a few names that incorporate mythological characters. “Penelope’s Muse“– one of my favorite designs in the collection was named after Penelope, Odysseus’ wife. She was the Queen of Ithaca who was waiting for twenty years for husband to return from the Trojan War . I chose her name because she is a symbol of “patience” and “fidelity.”

“Ariadne’s Dream” was named after another mythological character, Ariadne, whom I have been intrigued by as well. She was brilliant and an innovator. She knew how to assist Theseus in safely returning from his dangerous mission by using a thread to guide him back from the labyrinth. When I painted this design I think I was in my own kind of labyrinth.

“Martine” and “Rosina” hold a very special and personal place in my heart. “Tatiana” my little gypsy dancer, came from my love for Russian and Ukranian embroideries, my Eastern European heritage I guess. Designs like Giselle and Isabelle’s Garden were named simply because I love those names, and “Caitlin” was always a favorite Irish name. She is my bitonal toile child who likes showing off her versatility by being offered in a number of color combinations.

Blue Room fabric colours

Have you been involved with Decorex before? 

I have not been involved with Decorex before. I have heard about its impact on the design world and what a truly, highly unique platform it is for introducing new and innovative collections.

floral fabric

Do you have favourite colours that you like to work with ?

I tend to work a lot with warm and exuberant colors such as pinks, saturated oranges, and apple greens. I love all colors of course. I have lately been drawn to plum and pink. Colours have different “frequencies.” As a musician, I see the correlation between certain tonalities and their corresponding colors. Certain colours I guess just leap out at you with energy, while others play a more subdued role. I personally love colours that celebrate life! I am a huge fan of orange, and most shades of pink. Pink is the colour of love. Who wouldn’t want that in their home?! Our living room is mainly orange and pink.

The Kim Parker Artbook for Clarke & Clarke featuring Isabella's Garden design

Can you tell us about your design process from drawings to the finished product ? 

I love this question. There is no drawing process for me. I have never ever sat down and pre-planned a single design. I just dip my brushes and go. The creative process for me is a very free and organic one, which keeps the whole approach fresh. I really don’t like designs that are fixed looking and too thought-out. They kind of lack energy to me. I hope my designs reflect a more human approach since they’re all painted by hand, and none have been mapped out in advance. Designing is a very personal space where no one can follow. My heart is my compass. The influences are innumerable. It could be a piece of music that transports you to another place, or simply a bird out the window singing its heart out.

Just the other day this lovely Mexican flower vendor in our neighborhood stopped me on the street and asked me where I got my embroidered blouse. It was from Mexico, and we started talking about his city, and the women I reminded him of apparently. Before I knew it I was showing him floral textile designs I had painted on my iPhone and he told me I reminded him of Frida Kahlo. Moments later he kindly handed me a beautiful orange Gerber Daisy from his stand, and said, “This is for you.” I took it home and put it in water. Hours later I painted one of my finest watercolors. This is just an example of where inspiration can be drawn from and where the creative process originates. My designs find their way onto the various product surfaces after they have been created. Not every design can become a rug, or paper a room. I have seen how certain designs of mine lend themselves to certain surfaces better than others.  But it’s wonderful to be surprised too; to see one of your kids sized up and dancing on the wall or floor, one you thought for sure would not translate, or to pull one from an archive and bring new life to it on a bedspread or dinner plate. From start to finish the process remains organic, thankfully.

colourful headboard red orange floral

Enjoy Decorex ! 

Thank you ! We are very excited about our new designer collaboration with Clarke & Clarke. They are an amazing team with so much integrity and hope to continue growing the program. We are thrilled to be working with such an extraordinary company.

Thanks very much to Kim. Really inspiring !

I hope you have enjoyed the interview ? What do you think of the designs ? 

Leave me a comment under this post or tweet me @lucylovesyablog ..

Lucy x

All images are copyright of Clarke & Clarke and Kim Parker 2015.