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In The Spotlight: Q&A with Louise Brainwood

I’m very lucky to have collaborated with a number of  super-talented designers through Nutmeg, and today’s blog post throws the spotlight onto a seriously skilled creative: Louise Brainwood.

Louise’s distinctive designs are inspired by the clean lines and minimal style of Japanese and Scandinavian art and design. She designs primarily for textiles and produces soft furnishings and homewares such as cushions and lampshades which she makes by hand in her studio in Berkhamsted. Her delightful images also feature in our Designer Collaboration range, with seven wall stickers including fish, flowers and foxes.

So without further ado, it’s over to Louise to tell us about her background story, the design process and her inspirations.

 

What inspired you to create/draw/design in the beginning?

I’ve always drawn and made things. I went to art college and did 3D Design, specialising in jewellery and worked originally as a designer jeweller. I made the move to textiles around 10 years ago as I’d always had an interest in colour and pattern and I’m a self-confessed fabric addict. Receiving those first fabric samples in the post was fantastic and I still get a real thrill to this day when a design comes to life as a new product.

 

How would you describe the ethos of Louise Brainwood?

I work under my own name and that means people know immediately that the products are designed and made by me. I love taking a mundane object like a lampshade and making it special using my distinctive prints. Enabling my customers to bring colour and style into their homes without have to do a full decorating project is such a joy!

 

How did you develop your style?

I started out using vintage fabrics to make cushions but soon realised there was a limited supply as vintage suddenly became very fashionable! From there, I looked into how to print my own fabrics. My designs have a bit of a mid-century modern feel but also the fun and colour of Scandinavian design. I like crisp, fresh images mixed with a little bit of texture from hand drawn elements. I always design things I’d have in my own home; that’s my deal breaker. If I wouldn’t have it in my home, it doesn’t make the cut.

 

What’s your favourite way of coming up with new designs - tell us a little about your process? 

If I’m working on designs for my own collection, ideas tend to bubble around in my head for some time before I put pen to paper. Then I’ll make some rough sketches and take those sketches to my laptop and work in Illustrator to clean them up and get the colours perfect. If it’s being worked into a repeat for fabrics, then I’ll go through lots of experiments with layout so that the design works from a distance too. Looking at how the design creates an overall pattern and rhythm is fascinating. I’m very fussy about colour and sometimes spend as much time searching out the exact shade of  colour as creating the actual motif for the design.

 

What keeps you feeling creative?

I live in the Chilterns so as well as having amazing countryside on the doorstep, I can also take a short ride into London to galleries and museums. Regular trips to the coast, especially Cornwall, always inspire me; the coast is so energising and the landscape and quickly-changing light means there’s always something new to see. I like to do lots of walking when I’m there and I have an app on my phone that allows me to ‘collect’ colours from the photos I take. They’re then uploaded automatically to my laptop as colour palettes so I can use them in my designs when I get home.

 

What environment do you work best work in?

I prefer being somewhere quiet and calm so I can think clearly. My studio is at home and actually it’s really good to work with other people around every so often to bounce ideas off them and get instant reactions to what I’m working on. I’m lucky that my whole family including my daughters are involved in the arts, so home is a very creative environment and they understand what it means when my door is shut…!

 

What is your favourite part of running a creative business?

It’s a close run thing between the beginning and the end of the process. By that I mean turning an idea into a design, sketching out motifs, playing with colours and pattern, but then ultimately seeing my work in customer’s homes, sometimes whole room schemes based around one of my patterns - that is very, very cool!


Where else can we find your work? 

I sell my textile homewares and gifts through my own website www.louisebrainwood.co.uk and online via Etsy, Folksy and Not on the High Street. I also stock a handful of independent stores in the South West including Boka in Crediton and Home at Five in Ilfracombe.

Thanks to Louise - and remember, you can always add a little bit of fun Scandi chic to your home with Louise’s gorgeous stickers in the Nutmeg Designer Collaboration range, available here.


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