Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Maker's Atelier - a journey in colour selection

For the last twelve months I've been working on a very personal project that has become The Maker's Atelier. I have always made my own clothes and when someone suggested I publish my own dressmaking patterns, I thought it was an interesting idea. I've never bought dressmaking patterns, they're not very fashionable and they don't relate to my style. So I felt here was a gap in the dressmaking market where I could introduce a level of style and sophistication. But the interesting thing is the colour journey that has taken place during the development of The Maker's Atelier brand and its products.
I started the business concept the same way I start all my projects with a moodboard.  I take what I think are the key ingredients, which I then embellish, and then edit, until I've captured the essence of what I'm trying to create. Above is part of the moodboard; on the left is the section that relates to my own wardrobe, including my clothes-rail with the colours I wear - blues to greys to white with tans and sands for summer. On the righthand side are my first thoughts on branding - I knew I wanted a classic understated logo that would last and that ideally it would be in grey as this is the perfect "backdrop" colour.
 I worked with Eighth Day Design who have created all my previous websites and branding to develop The Maker's Atelier. They did a brilliant job including creating The Maker's Atelier type face inspired by the stencilled type found on dressmaking mannequins. The full branding story can be found here and as you can see we kept to the greys for the branding. It was a different story with the clothing....

The plan was to illustrate the patterns, with real size 12 women, photographed using natural light wearing a series of blue samples. But following the first test shoot with photographer Amelia Shepherd, I realised that we couldn't see the garment details with the depth of blues I had chosen. This detail is integral to dressmakers - they need to see the seams etc of what they are going to make. So I had a week in which to recreate all the samples in paler neutrals. The colour selection had become driven by the technicalities of the photographic look we wanted and the suitable fabrics I could quickly lay my hands on.
For the shoot location we used the building where The Maker's Atelier is based in Kemptown Brighton - there are a series of large rooms but the best background we have found is a pale grey; Dulux 00NN 53/000. This is completely neutral with a high Light Reflective Value (53) so the natural light can bounce around and soften the look.
After the final shoot we chose the images above for the first six pattern fronts which were published last August. Since then I've been experimenting with pattern and other colours in preparation for the next set of styles. But its a fine line with what works and what doesn't. But as a designer its been a fascinating journey perfecting everything into a saleable product - the results can be viewed here

Sunday, 15 June 2014

White on White

I adore white on white and collect all sorts of embossed stationary. So I could't resist this French linens catalogue printed in 1952, from Wayward's stall at Brighton's Saturday market.
When I'm working on interior projects, I rarely use standard bright white paint colour I always specify a shade of white that complements the total environment.
I have just spent weeks selecting the white for my new workspace. Only to realise it was almost irrelevant once I'd moved in all my files and boxes. They are all different shades depending on age;but these different levels add such a texture.
I had to get a photograph of these white towels on the white wall, at the new Jane Scrivner spa treatment rooms, they seem to have a real rhythm about them.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Cabana Magazine

I'm fascinated by what's happening with magazines at the moment. The effect of the internet has meant a rethink on all levels of design and consumerism. Main stream fashion magazines now have a constantly updating online presence, but this hasn't made them more desirable to me. What I have found most inspiring is the rise of the elite design magazine with a very focused edit. Magazines like The gentlewoman and Kinfolk, full of great engaging copy and beautiful imagery. But best of all is this new interiors magazine Cabana; it is stunning.
The attention to detail in the production.......from the choice of 7 silkscreen printed fabric covers by Pierre Frey, to all the different paper stocks used for the spreads inside......this is design heaven. I've tried to find out more about the magazine on the internet but could only find this review by Dryce on

This is not a magazine you will find in every newsagent, I bought my copy in Astier de Villatte, the beautifully quirky interiors shop on Rue St Honore in Paris, which also features in the magazine. There is so much to see, and feel and to be inspired by in this magazine, it is pure joy!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Powdered Pastels

Pastel ceramics - inspiration from Nelly Rodi
Spring's been here for a while and we've had some beautiful bright days, so I'm a bit late with this observation on the season's pastel trend.
Usually I steer clear of colours that are too sweet but there is a powdery feel to this year's colours that gives them a sophistication. They look great when worn with attitude as above from & Other Stories or below from Net a Porter
These spongy, neoprene style fabrics, give a very modern edge to these powered shades - so desirable!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

My current mood board

Normally by February I start dreaming of pastels and this coming spring's colours are beautiful. However the mood board in my studio is still reflecting the weather outside due to the relentless rain and howling wind. Since December I've removed the black and introduced greys to work back with my navy and indigo palette - so the mood is lifting a bit. But there are some lovely things on my board......
My friend Kate just gave me this gorgeous hot water bottle, as I have no heating yet in my new flat. It's so lovely though, that I'm keeping it at my studio until my building work stops. By Jules Hogan, she got it from Not On The High Street and it'll look fabulous with my crumpled grey, linen sheets from H&M 
The other fabrics on my board that I'm hoping to introduce into my interior scheme are from Eleanor Pritchard - I love this whole mix of pattern and texture......
So until spring arrives and my building works complete, this is my inspiration.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Black and Blue

I love this season's fashion trend for all things black and blue. So much so, that this is the invite I designed for our studio christmas party. The black silhouette is from a photograph I took of the Brighton Pavilion.
By coincidence COS launched these carrier bags at the weekend.
I remember a rhyme from when I was  young…"black and blue will never do" - just goes to show, rules are made to be broken.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Paul Smith at the Design Museum

Yesterday I went to the Paul Smith exhibition at the Design Museum. It was a bit surreal, as when I turned into the room that represents his office, there he was and he said hello! His assistant and press officer were there too, and they said they found it all a bit strange as the layout was exactly like their real place of work.
It's an interesting exhibition with lots to look at and you get a real feel for him and his business. The best part of the exhibition for me, is a film that captures the day of his Menswear S/S 2014 fashion show in Paris.
In the film he is talking about his brand and the fact that it is all about colour. He says "there is COLOUR and there is colour", and it's as much about a light navy and a dark navy, as lots of colour; that has real resonance for me.
The exhibition runs until 9th March 2014.