The collaboration We chat to Bethan Gray as she gets set to launch her new collection with Anthropologie
As she launches her first line of furniture for the high-street retailer, Gray discusses finding inspiration in the UK’S beaches, parks and her son’s collection of shells
Bethan, how do you want people to feel when they see your designs?
I always want them to be comfortable, for there to be an element of cosiness to everything I do. You know what it’s like when people come to your house – you want them to feel at home, and not like they can’t touch anything. That’s the mood I’m always trying to achieve.
And what is it about your work that creates such a feeling?
I have a colour palette that I tend to stick to – teals and jades, golds and coppers, soft greys and even softer pinks. It’s all very harmonious, taking its lead from shades that exist in nature, such as stones and woods – the things you would see when you’re taking a walk in the park. Is nature a big influence for you? It really is. I have a four-year-old son who loves being outside and is a real hoarder. He collects shells, pebbles, whatever he can find. The feather shapes seen in the design of the chairs and cabinets in my new range for Anthropologie were inspired by him. I’m also influenced by the British craft movement, and enjoy using traditional techniques to tell cultural stories. Anthropologie is an American brand, founded in Wayne, Pennsylvania, so I started by researching indigenous American cultures and was drawn to the ancient patterns and motifs created by Ancestral and Acoma Puebloans. They are so bold and graphic – I thought they were beautiful, and I knew that a modern reinterpretation would be just perfect. How connected are you to craft in the UK? I’ve just been made a fellow of Cardiff Metropolitan University and it was such a huge honour, especially seeing as it’s in my home city. They really nurture craftsmanship there and I’ve been seeing a revival of certain skills around ceramics and textiles coming out of their undergraduate courses.
And what do you make of the British design scene as a whole right now?
It’s such a supportive and nurturing industry, and I feel so lucky to have been helped by so many people over the years. My days working for Habitat were great – I was one of a whole tribe of talented designers, so many of whom have gone on to do amazing things. There is definitely a Britishness to my work – the ‘Stud’ table in my first collection was inspired by Welsh cricket tables – but what’s great about London is how multicultural it is. I’ve always been open to meeting people from other cultures – being a Welsh speaker means you’re used to smaller communities – and that melting-pot element to the UK is what makes British design so fresh and exciting. bethangray.com Turn the page to see more of the collection
‘Feather’ rug, from £598, Anthropologie (anthropologie.com) Above Bethan Gray sits on the ‘Feather’ chair, £698, Anthropologie (anthropologie.com)