[Behind the scenes]: Clementine & Bloom

desk 2 WEBI first came across the works of this lovely duo at the ‘Handmade in Britain’ event held at the Old Chelsea Town Hall back in November last year (see my post here) and was immediately drawn to their beautifully embroidered cushions! Clementine and Bloom, a mother-daughter team, who design and make luxury homeware, have only recently emerged into the competitive world of craft and design and have successfully done so with many interests shown in their work and with positive reviews about their work. I simply felt I needed to share more about them and their work on here just so you see what I’m talking about! Here’s my recent interview with them:
  • Tell us more about your backgrounds – have you both always wanted to specialise in printed textiles and embroidery? [Sandra]: I have always been interested in art and have always crafted for personal enjoyment. I decided to study printed textiles after becoming frustrated by the lack of bold colourful fabric designs available. [Sophie]: We have always been creative at home, but the really defining moment for me was at the age of 14 when we took a free machining course at the local sewing shop. Other than the textiles lessons I had had at school this was the first time I could see the potential to be experimental on fabric.
  • What drew you into setting up Clementine & Bloom? We had always discussed combining our skills in the future, after Sophie graduated and the potential for paid employment within embroidery looked unlikely we began to brainstorm. There’s nothing worse than being a creative and then finding yourself idle; idle hands lead to us to make a few items for our own home and then it was just a case of evolving it in to a business.

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  • What five words best describe you and your style of work? [Sandra]: colour, pattern, scale. [Sophie]: texture, experimental
  • What’s the main source of inspiration for your creations? We are inspired by anything and everything from the organic shapes and patterns in nature to the repetitive order and design found in architecture.
  • How would you describe your design process and what part of it do you like the most? [Sandra]: When we’re designing a new collection we always start with the research which involves the library and sight visits (museums or even just venturing into the garden.) Then the drawing begins. Once we feel we have plenty of visual material we begin to evolve the images on the computer; for every ten designs we select there are another twenty or so that are either rejected or filed away for the future. I really enjoy the drawing element of the design process the most. [Sophie]: Once all the initial research has been gathered I like to move into materials, experimenting with manipulation, colour and textures. We then bring all these elements together to create our collection. 
  • Is there any craft/art medium you haven’t tried but want to? And why? [Sandra]: I would love to take an upholstery course but haven’t been able to yet just from lack of time! [Sophie]: yes definitely upholstery, then we could combine our love of antique furniture with our bold fabric.

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  • There’s been a huge boom in craft and design in the last few years – would you say it’s been difficult breaking into this competitive world? It has been a difficult time to start a business in the creative industry as established designers who have been working for several years have told us. People have less money to spend at the moment and the huge interest in craft means they want to learn to make things for themselves, however we are taking things slowly and learning so much along the way – one of our family motto’s is ‘Slow and steady wins the race!’
  • What do you like most about your business? And is this a full-time business? We love that we have complete control – from the fabric design to the finished product to what time we begin work in the morning – who doesn’t want to be their own boss? On a practical level we both enjoy the ‘making’ side of the business and love to spend time in the studio screen printing fabric, what they don’t tell you when you start a business is just how much time is dedicated to paperwork and answering emails etc.
  • When you’re not in ‘designer-maker’ mode, what else do you enjoy doing? [Sandra]: I like to visit art galleries and exhibitions on my days off and getting outdoors walking my dog, but my eyes are always open and my mind is always thinking so I’m never sure it actually is switch-off time! [Sophie]: I love hunting through antique shops searching for hidden treasure. I also love nothing more than spending a day in the kitchen cooking up a feast!
  • Have you any tips for like-minded creative individuals who would like to one day set up a business themselves in this field? We would say to anyone who is thinking of entering this field to go for it. The hours are long but when a customer comes along and says ‘I really love this and I want it in my home’ it makes everything worthwhile. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in front of the computer but never under-estimate the value of social media as you can reach so many people in this way.

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  • Are there any designer-makers out there that you find inspirational – if so, who? Too many to list but here are a few. Lucienne Day – innovative and colourful designs, Grayson Perry – colour, detail and not afraid to broach difficult subject matters in his work, Henry Moore – his textiles are colourful and fun and use everyday objects in their design and lastly Anna Maria Horner – bold designs in vibrant colours, lovely!
  • Of your current work, what piece would you say is your favourite? [Sandra]: my favourite design at the moment is the Polka Dot Beetle; I love the colours and the scale means it’s not obvious immediately what the pattern is made up of, I’m planning on covering an old chair in this fabric. But I also love the Gilded Butterfly lampshades and the way they catch the light. [Sophie]: I love the Dancing Beetle pattern, although I consider it to be our ‘neutral’ it’s still a bold, geometric design in a colourway that does not fight with other colours or patterns in your home – this is why I am having my antique French bed re-upholstered in it! I also love the Papilio lampshade, I think it’s luxurious and decadent and unlike other lampshades in the homeware market.
  • What would we expect from Clementine & Bloom in the future? We have another collection in the very early stages of development and are looking at the potential of a wallpaper printed to coordinate with the Entomology range.
  • Finally, where can we find more of your wonderful creations? And can we find you at any craft + design events this year? We have a shop on our website where all the designs are available www.clementineandbloom.com. We have some trade shows planned this year and are also exhibiting in the Launchpad area of Pulse at Earls Court, London in May.
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A HUGE ‘thank you’ to Sandra and Sophie for taking their time out to answer all my questions and for supplying some wonderful photos of their studio and samples of their key work. Aren’t they simply fabulous?! Totally envious of their studio space and all those gorgeous rich colourful textiles!! Anyhow, I sincerely wish you both all the very best for 2013 – not that you need much as you seem to be doing pretty well! And I’m sure i’ll bump into you two again! :) All the best! xx
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