Textile designer Ali Davies is creating tomorrow’s memories with her exquisite range of hand-printed linens and homeware.
Meet Auckland textile designer, Ali Davies
“I see my designs as a visual stimulus of all the memories that bring us comfort.”
Standing on this suburban Auckland street, there is no clue of the peace and privacy that can be found in the backyard of textile artist Ali Davies’ home. “It feels like a little haven tucked away,” says Davies. “Our property backs on to native bush that drops down to a gully so there are no houses behind us.”
Having bush and birdsong close at hand was a drawcard for Davies and her performer/director husband John. For the past three years the couple has been transforming their four-bedroom home in Green Bay for themselves and their children Monty, 15, Nico, 13 and Anysia, 9.
Davies has been designing textile patterns and hand printing fabrics for more than 20 years. The Fabric Queen is her brand of table linens and homeware printed on a base cloth of hemp and organic cotton. This fits Davies’ ethos of having fabrics that are sustainable and as close as possible to the original source material.
What is your approach to conscious living?
My approach is similar to this excellent dietary advice I read recently: ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables.’ With conscious living I say, ‘Be true to yourself, don’t be greedy, be kind to others and don’t give up!’
You’ve mixed bold colours confidently in your home and filled it with art, books and treasures – what’s important to you when choosing things to surround yourself with?
Well, strangely enough I very seldom buy art or decorative objects. I curate the things that have found me over the years. Everything has a story and has come from friends and acquaintances. I’ve never been very keen on useless decorative items. They have no life force. We love books. They’re always all over the place; I can never keep them tidy. Colour is the only real thing I consciously use to impact my home and environment. I love texture, baskets, fabric, wood, ceramics, candles and storage items. Lavender is another essential item I use in my home.
Why is it important to you to create work that is made in New Zealand?
For me, it’s common sense and what works for my business. I make my products in New Zealand because I live here and I’m a community person. I also like to know who made my things. My customers are starting to trust my brand now as being genuinely made in New Zealand so I’ll keep it that way as long as I can. I’m not against anything made overseas in principle. As long as people and environment are not exploited, then there can be wonderful opportunities in all kinds of places.
Would you like to see your designs become heirloom pieces for future generations?
Fabrics hold memories. I get letters from people overseas and in New Zealand who share what it means for them when they see my fabrics in their home. They are reminded of a special time or milestone. I see my designs as a visual stimulus of all the memories that bring us comfort. Over time I’d like to think that the various patterns on the table that I have made will evoke memories in my kids of all those dinners we had together.
It’s not easy to make a living from being creative in New Zealand. What keeps you going?
My creativity is bottomless. My passion never goes away. I’ve also su ered a lot from depression and even though at times I’ve felt doomed to eternal creative poverty, it has also saved me. I believe that art is solving problems; if you’re creative you will find a solution. If you stick to your guns things will happen. My work has never been about the money but I’ve learnt that if you choose to ‘live’ from your work, at some stage it has to be about the money. If you’re patient and open to learning you can have both. My desire to see my work in many places and enjoyed by many people is strong enough to overcome almost any di iculty.
What aspects of your conscious-living ethos do you bring to your work as a fabric designer?
I have learnt to trust my gut instinct. I ask myself: ‘Is it beautiful? Does it create value? Does it make me feel good?’ If I feel lost, my Buddhist practice helps me to stay tuned and balanced.
For her own home, Davies is drawn to strong colour and decorative objects that have meaning and a back story. The Fabric Queen Davies’ beautifully designed table linens and homewares are printed on a basecloth of organic cotton and hemp.