When I embarked on my journey designing repeat patterns with fabric in mind, instinctively I started drawing flowers. It’s hardly surprising as blooms have dominated British Print Design historically since William Morris and have been turned into signature styles by household names of Laura Ashley and Cath Kidston.
- St James’s wallpaper, designed by William Morris, manufactured by Jeffrey & Co., 1881, England. Achieved in the V&A.
- Laura Ashley Hermione Charcoal Floral Curtain Fabric
- Cath Kidston Devonshire Rose
My venture into print design coincided with the arrival of Elle Flowers on the doormat, an exclusive collaboration between Funny how flowers do that, ELLE decoration and Elle resulting in a 76 page print publication celebrating every part of the stem just in time for Spring.
I was immediately inspired and set to work devouring the magazine from cover to cover, pulling out images and colours that jumped out at me. I was drawn to single line illustrations, vibrant yellows and delicate foliage, as well as particular flowers’ stories of origin and the cultural significance of plants like how Jasmine is used in Indian weddings.
In contrast to the dainty white florets, I was drawn to the vibrant and geometric shape of the Tropical Birds of Paradise. The flower has a distinctive beak like stem and a contrasting palette of vivid colours, including orange, magenta and purple, which makes for a pretty eye catching colour combination.
I made my first attempt at repeat patterns by using an analogue approach I’d picked up from a SkillShare class by Julia Rothman. I was pretty happy with the end result, the single line drawings are a reflection of my illustration style and the scale of the print is unapologetic and refreshingly modern in comparison to smaller ditsy vintage prints. I imagined it would work on interiors textiles and even as a bold wallpaper.
After using a photocopier to make this makeshift wallpaper and leaving it for a few days to settle into our box fresh white flat, my heart dropped.
I just didn’t like it and florals didn’t feel very true to my style.
I consciously avoid floral prints in our living space, to keep the gender balance even though I generally make all the design choices because ‘It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just you’re just so much better at that stuff than me’. In fact, when we moved and I had exhausted all the options of off-the-shelf textiles, (that weren’t covered in flowers or out of our budget) I pledged to take up sewing just to find blinds and cushions that were suited to our style. When I started teaching myself how to sew from Tilly and the Buttons and started searching for dress making fabrics I found so many floral prints.
There are a gluttony of gorgeous floral designs available, which led me down a rabbit hole of online fabric shops and caused me to discover American Riffle Paper Co.
But somehow florals didn’t feel very true to my style, or light a fire in my belly with excitement. So although it was fitting to start my print design journey looking at florals due to the historical context, and I’ll never say never… but for now I just wanted to look elsewhere for my inspiration and started looking in my wardrobe and on the high street.
All for now.
Claire & Co.