This is a continuation of my floral photographic sketches that I posted about recently. I had a fun couple of hours a few weeks ago playing with my camera and documenting ideas. Sometimes an idea comes along that leads to another and needs to be snapped quickly and captured before it is forgotten.
When I designed textile patterns for a design studio we would always use reference books and quite often real flowers to draw from and use as inspiration, but these were quite often open to interpretation. A drawn flower would be given a different, more appealing leaf to the stem, or would be painted flat to the page with more flower heads than would occur in nature. Some of my drawn flowers would have leaves made from patterns or other textures and they would evolve and become unique, designed interpretations of flowers rather than true-to-life, accurate floral studies.
Freehand, machine-stitching is a technique I used in textile design many years ago and still use regularly. With a little practice it you can get great results and if you want to have a go at home a couple of the projects in my first book The Homemade Home explain it with step-by-step instructions.
In the case of this photo experiment with flora from my garden, I picked apart several flowers and placed different heads, stems and leaves together. I also added fabric and lace leaves and real elements to my machine-stitched stems, creating my own hybrids and fantasy flowers.
I like to contrast real with illustrated, man made with natural in combinations that really shouldn’t exist together. The speed of capturing an idea on camera at home means that later I will be able to develop this further into something more, but for now these ideas have been documented and are reminders to myself, my own visual notes and a little play with nature.
I love to visit the annual New Designers show in Islington, North London every year and it is a show I try not to miss. It doesn’t seem long ago that I was exhibiting there as a graduating student myself. The raw talent of the year’s graduates is always exciting to see, their futures not yet mapped out. It is a joy to see them showcasing their work. Their enthusiasm and excitement is infectious and you can feel their anticipation of what their future creative careers may hold.
At the end of last month I popped along to part one of the show which includes textiles, fashion and accessories, contemporary applied arts, ceramics, glass and jewellery and precious metalwork. I like to catch up with the tutors from Edinburgh College of Art where I studied and spend a couple of hours wandering around the show, looking at work, chatting with the graduates and supporting them by buying some work.
This year work of ceramicist Alison Rees caught my eye and I bought a few of her pieces. She had completed her studies a year ago and was exhibiting in the One Year On section of the show, where a select few designers from the previous year’s show are invited to exhibit again and are given a space to showcase their latest work. It was the graphic quality and small scale of Alison’s ceramics that I loved and drew me in. They work beautifully as a group and can be arranged in all sorts of configurations. I thought I would share these simple photos I took of them displayed in my home.
After we had been chatting for ten minutes, I gave her my business card and she looked at it and said, “I read your blog!!” It was quite a coincidence and I went rather red as it doesn’t happen very often!
Alison’s little pots now sit proudly on a shelf in my kitchen where I see them every time I pass by and give me such pleasure. You can get a sense of scale of them in the photo below, they’re about an inch and a half high. She is continuing her studies next year at the Royal College of Art and I wish her every success and will definitely be popping along to the RCA shows in the future.
You can see more of Alison’s work on her website here.
Purchasing work from new graduates means that not only do you have the most wonderful original art in your home but it shows support for them as they move in to the next stage of their creative lives. We have bought work from graduates almost every year since about 1996 which was when we had our first apartment with empty walls to fill. And now with the web it is much easier to keep in touch and see how they are getting on which is great.
We have work from textile artists like Debbie Smyth whose work you may now be familiar with, and Marion Parola who recently set up Bespoke Atelier textile design studio in Glasgow and also runs textile design workshops. Last year we bought a piece of work by Lesley Elliott which I posted about here. She is now studying film and recently travelled to Iceland to make a short film about their horses which has since won an award. You can see the film here.
If there is an art college near you it is worth finding out when the shows are on and going along if you can.
My very best wishes to all of this year’s design graduates for your future careers.
July 24, 2012 in news
Phew, it’s been busy! Work seems to have taken over my life over the past few months so I thought I would share a little update of what I have been up to. It has been a case of head down, work hard and any free time spent with my family. I feel my blog, emails, twitter and facebook have all had to take a back seat as there just aren’t enough hours in the day. My apologies to those of you I haven’t responded to, it has been on my conscience. The children are now on their school holidays though and so am I! I made a decision not to take on commercial shoots during school holidays while they are young so we can enjoy being a family.
So what has been keeping me busy? Prepping and styling for lots of projects and new clients. Being a stylist means preparation is key – sourcing, selecting, calling in, location finding, drafting image layouts and making bespoke elements which I like to do to add a personal touch, can take much more time than the shoot days themselves. It all began in February when I went in to see the Elle Decoration team to come up with a new six page story for the magazine. We shot it in March and last week I saw the draft page layouts which look wonderful. I’ll be able to share this with you in September when the October issue hits the stores.
At the same time I worked with an award-winning architectural practice as an interior styling and design consultant on a large member’s club and spa in a very smart part of London, sourcing and selecting furniture choices and putting together the overall colour schemes and fabric choices for this exciting project. It is due to open at the end of the Summer and I hope we will have some images to share.
I have also worked on several different shoots for the lovely team at not on the high street.com, including their father’s day catalogue, and also an eight day shoot for Waitrose, styling the images for their autumn/winter flower and plant range which was a joy to work on. I slipped in the little shoot at home with Remodelista and recently took Decor8‘s Blogging Your Way 2.0 online course which had great tutorials and advice, although with everything else going on I wasn’t able to participate like I would have liked (I will have to do the next one too!)
The biggest project has been working with interiors mail order company Cox & Cox, where between us we have come up with a new look for the imagery in the autumn/winter catalogue. This was three weeks of shooting spread out over three months including the last eight days away on location, and involved a large amount of preparation and making for the shoots and then styling with the photographer and art director to help give it its new look. We have lots of gorgeous images which I will share when they are released.
I almost forgot that amongst all of these projects my new book was released, I held the launch event at Liberty, which was such a special day, and made a video of how to make the floral headband with the Liberty team. Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy so far and those who have reviewed and blogged about it, it is really appreciated. A big thank you also goes to Mollie Makes magazine who featured the fish bowl mobile project from my new book in issue 15.
It has been so busy and I am always appreciative of the wonderful creative work that I am involved with, but for now I am loving seeing my children properly again, catching up online and am really looking forward to my annual summer trip to Croatia next month. I can’t wait.
I have a few blog posts planned before I go away which I am looking forward to sharing with you. Thank you for stopping by.
A couple of weekends ago I popped over to jeweller Emma Cassi‘s home with my family in tow to catch up with her, have a chat and buy some new jewellery. We first met several years ago and I always enjoy visiting her home and chatting with her and her husband, and all of our little ones playing together. Twice a year Emma opens up her London home as an informal shop for friends and clients. The drawers in her living room display her work, each one filled with collections of exquisite jewellery leaving me in the wonderful conundrum of which necklace, bracelet or hair grip to buy.
Emma’s lovely home changes subtly with each visit, another layer of interest has been added, new beautiful items placed in front of others, or maybe I just didn’t notice them the last time I was there and they caught my attention that day.
I always have friends in mind when I visit… who has a birthday soon? a new baby? a child’s treat? It’s extra fun buying for others as well as yourself. A little set will be travelling to the other side of the world to a friend who deserves a treat and has just had a new baby. It is wrapped so beautifully too in music paper with string, elegant and simple.
A vintage beaded top hangs over a door in Emma’s living room, popping with neon inspiration.
So after a couple of hours of catching up and cups of tea, I returned home with treasure to wear and and a package of gorgeousness to mail across continents. A perfect afternoon.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 18 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
To enquire about commissioning Sania for commercial or editorial projects, please use the contact form.