So you may remember from this post that I’m going to be taking part in a really fabulous pop-up shopping/workshop experience in Manchester on 26th April called Home is in the North.

I wanted today to introduce you to three of the talented designers that proudly call the North home who will be showcasing and selling their wares at the event and give you a chance to win an amazing gift from all three!  Also, as a bonus, they are imparting some fantastic words of advice to creatives that are looking to start their own business.

I asked our designers three questions and here’s what they had to say…

Annabel Perrin, a surface pattern designer with a range of printed fabric and homeware accessories.  I adore the colour combinations of Annabel’s designs, with pale corals mixing with deep blues, mints with soft lilacs, mustards with raspberry.  Her work echoes mid-century geometric designs and her inspiration comes from the landscape and architecture around her.

Tell us a little bit about you and your work for those that might be unfamiliar with it and how your business came to be.

I’m a surface pattern designer with a range of printed fabrics and homeware accessories. You can find my striking mid-century modern designs on cushions, tea towels, teacups and limited edition up-cycled pieces. My collection is vibrant, colourful and geometric and often draws inspiration from architecture and British locations. All products are made locally in Britain too.

I graduated with a Masters in Design, from Manchester School of Art in 2012 and went on to launch my first ‘Architecture’ collection the following February. It’s always been my dream to have my own homeware brand and I’m delighted to be launching my third collection called ‘Promenade’ this March.

How would you describe your style/aesthetic in your home and how does this influence your designs?

I moved house last summer, and I’m finding it very exciting to be putting my stamp on the place! I’m introducing an eclectic mix of bold, patterned accessories and up-cycled mid-century furniture. I don’t think everything needs to match in a room and I love mixing old and new together. The rooms are still bright and light as this makes me feel relaxed.

In my opinion you can easily transform a neutral room with some statement accessories and that’s what I provide with my homeware. Strong and sophisticated colour palettes are a must in both my designs and my home!

And finally, what advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own creative business?

I would say where possible keep your living space and working space separate. I don’t necessary mean hiring a studio space, just somewhere you can close the door at the end of a working day. This makes such a difference in terms of productivity. When I first started the business I had a desk in the corner of the living room. I found it really hard to switch off. I’ve learned that taking a step back occasionally to clear my head will encourage me to make better decisions in the long run.

Next up is Heather Linnitt of Eclectic Chair.  Now, Heather is a girl who is not afraid of colour or mixing patterns or styles – and of course, I have to love that.  Her upholstery work is stunning and any of her pieces would be stand outs in a home that really appreciates a bit of eclectic style.

Tell us a little bit about you and your work for those that might be unfamiliar with it and how your business came to be.

Following a 20 year career in the restaurant industry, I trained as an upholsterer.  I could immediately see a potential to be creative with my upholstery skills, to work with vintage furniture and interesting materials to create unique upholstered items. My style is eclectic. I appreciate many different styles e.g. vintage, retro, traditional, Scandi, industrial, ethnic, boho, folksy. What does seem to be a common thread though, is that I am attracted to colour and pattern, and I like the contrast of new designs of fabric on an old piece of furniture, or old (vintage) fabric on a new piece of furniture. I particularly like mid century furniture because of its clean, unfussy lines and cool modernist style. 

How would you describe your style/aesthetic in your home and how does this influence your designs?

I like a bit of vintage, eg a nice teak sideboard, a bit of modern, eg a cowhide rug, one of my own chairs reupholstered in Welsh tapestry, some cushions made from vintage Heals fabric, some abstract artwork from the 1950s, a beautiful vase…. basically an eclectic mixture of fabrics, furniture and objects, all of which give me joy to look at each day. I am inspired by them all, the legs on a vintage chair, a pattern on some vintage fabric, the beauty in the simplicity of a shape, or in how a combination of objects of differing heights and shapes can work together. I am always trying out new combinations in my work.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own creative business?

Look into what financial help is out there, there are start up loans available at really good rates. Not having money can really hold up the development of your business. You need to be obsessed with what you do, dedicated, and determined. You need to be constantly on the lookout for opportunities. Join groups of like-minded creative people, as you will learn so much from them. Take part in shows like Home Is In The North, talk to the other makers, and the people who visit. Buy interiors magazines to get an idea of what is in fashion and whether your product would fit, and lastly, make sure that the presentation of your website, images, packaging and branding are high quality.

And last but certainly not least is Claire Murray Designs who’s wallpapers detail natural forms in illustrative style with movement and a beauty that is hard to capture with words. Only launching her wallpapers last year at the Independent Interiors Show in Manchester, I’ve seen first hand how breathtaking her work really is.
Tell us a little bit about you and your work for those that might be unfamiliar with it and how your business came to be.
I’ve always loved drawing and I’ve always loved nature, so literally drawing inspiration from the natural world is where all of my ideas first emerge.  I trained and worked as a fine artist initially but my great passions for interior design and architecture drew me towards designing surface pattern for the home before I even realized I was doing it!  An inspiring trip to New York in 2011, and an MA course later, and here I am, doing what I love.

For me, it’s simple: it’s about creating elegant surface pattern designs for the home with the highest quality and craftsmanship, with every design emerging from a piece of fine art or exquisite hand-drawn illustration. 
My passion for hand-rendered drawing and painting is at the heart of the design process, so I design with minimal reliance on digital effects.  I suppose I am very conscious of the fast-paced, technological world in which we live, and I want to slow that down a little and make time to think, create, ponder and appreciate our surroundings more.  All of my designs are inspired by the flora and fauna of the landscape of the South Pennines, and are designed, printed and created in the UK.   

I only just launched my surface pattern business in Autumn 2013, so it’s early days, but exciting times as my products (wallpapers, cushions and lampshades) were recently featured on the Heart Home Magazine New Designers stand at Home London, at Earls Court in January 2014.   
How would you describe your style/aesthetic in your home and how does this influence your designs?
My own home has essentially evolved a style of its own.  We have a large open plan living area in a converted 19th century, old co-op building.  The large arched windows offer us wonderful through light and we are so lucky to have the most uplifting views of ancient woodland, streams and rolling hills, which is at the heart of the inspiration for my work.  I use my home to test out my designs, which have to sit alongside an eclectic collection of original art, photography and the odd piece of up-cycled furniture, ukulele or one-off antique.  I’ve tried to create a comfortable home – we have loads of books on display and a six year old, so minimal is out, and comfortable, shabby-chic is probably closer to the mark.
What advice would you give anyone starting up their own creative business?
Well, it’s very early days for my own business so my advice is perhaps limited!  However, the best advice I had was from an established designer who I interviewed for an assignment when I was doing an MA in Surface Pattern and Textiles last year.  That advice was to build an online presence, create a blog and most importantly start networking with other creatives to build a following and a strong supportive network.  There is such a lot to do when you are the inspiration, the designer, maker, researcher, marketer, blogger and sales professional all in one, so don’t underestimate how much time you have to dedicate, especially at the beginning.  And always believe in your product – if you don’t, how can you expect others to?  Lastly, photograph your products in the best quality way you can afford.
I think you’ll agree we have some serious talent oop North, no?
Well, I’m going to be giving you the opportunity to get your hands on not one but something from EACH of these fabulous designers, courtesy of the Home is in the North event.
Here’s what you could win:

  • Annabell Perrin Set of 2 Tea towel duo set, which includes the pavilion and imperial green tea towels
  • Claire Murray Designs 2 Rolls of either Coriolacae or Champignon wallpapers
  • Eclectic Chair vintage tapestry cushion with pink piping
Follow the Rafflecopter below to enter!

And to learn more about Home is in the North, to book tickets to both the event and to join my workshop (spaces are limited so pre-booking is recommended), please see the details here.

My apologies to my international readers as this is only open to residents of the UK.

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