TEA AND A CHAT

The French-born tex­tile de­signer, who now lives and works in Lon­don, gives us an in­sight into her cre­ative, colour­ful world

Mollie Makes - - Contents - Words: HOLLY JOHN­SON Pho­to­graphs: IN­GRID RAS­MUSSEN

We nat­ter to French-born tex­tile de­signer, Claire de Quéne­tain

There’s some­thing chang­ing in the world of tex­tiles. Ex­cit­ing new names are en­rich­ing our in­te­ri­ors with their fresh ap­proach and artis­tic flair for fab­ric de­sign. Us­ing both tra­di­tional pro­cesses and cut­ting-edge tech­niques, it’s about cre­at­ing de­sir­able one-o s, unique cus­tom-dyes and, for tal­ented RCA grad­u­ate Claire de Quéne­tain, it’s about telling a story.

Grow­ing up in France, Claire had the kind of child­hood most of us dream of. Sur­rounded by farm­land, she helped her par­ents raise hun­dreds of deer that roamed the fields around their coun­try home. At the age of 10 the fam­ily moved to Paris, and, miss­ing the fa­mil­iar land­scape of her na­tive Nor­mandy, Claire be­gan paint­ing nat­u­ral scenes us­ing fluid move­ments.

Hav­ing found her pas­sion, she went on to study Fine Art in Switzer­land, be­fore mov­ing to Lon­don in 2012. Claire still lives in Lon­don to­day, with her hus­band and their 11-month-old daugh­ter, Vic­to­ria. We vis­ited her home stu­dio to find out more about how she cre­ates her vivid wa­ter­colour de­signs. How did you start work­ing with fab­ric? It all be­gan when I did a Masters at the Royal Col­lege of Art in Printed Tex­tiles. Dur­ing this time, I be­gan to imag­ine my paint­ings as tex­tiles for in­te­ri­ors. I wanted to bring na­ture in­doors, so I started to paint de­signs onto fab­rics. De­scribe your typ­i­cal work­ing day. No two days are the same for me, but I’m usu­ally based at my home stu­dio in Lon­don. Each Septem­ber, I start work­ing on a new col­lec­tion, which in­volves vis­it­ing pri­vate gar­dens and tak­ing pic­tures of plants and flow­ers as part of my re­search process. From there, I cre­ate a story. I draw sketches, then paint in a very free way onto pa­per. Noth­ing I do is pre­de­ter­mined. Tell us about your cre­ative process. I study colours, shapes and flo­ral com­po­si­tions in the gar­dens I visit and then cre­ate new pat­terns, work­ing as sin­cerely as pos­si­ble. I use dig­i­tal print­ing and screen print­ing tech­niques, but I al­ways hand-paint one or two fab­rics or cush­ions per col­lec­tion. Work­ing from home, how do you jug­gle your work and your fam­ily life? I tend to work when my daugh­ter, Vic­to­ria, is tak­ing her naps. My hus­band, Mads, is a graphic de­signer and has his own stu­dio,

so he’s flex­i­ble and shares the child­care. My daugh­ter loves watch­ing me cut fab­rics and pack or­ders – she is very cu­ri­ous and is al­ways try­ing to ‘help’! I think she’s drawn to my fab­rics as they’re so colour­ful. What was the hard­est part of get­ting your busi­ness started? Gain­ing vis­i­bil­ity for my work was di cult at first, but I found In­sta­gram was a great tool for shar­ing im­ages of my de­signs. So­cial me­dia was es­sen­tial in get­ting col­lab­o­ra­tions with other brands, and from there I also got fea­tured in mag­a­zines. The com­mer­cial side is a big chal­lenge for me – be­ing a cre­ative per­son, I’m not so in­ter­ested in that part! Can you tell us about some of your pre­vi­ous col­lab­o­ra­tions? Heal’s was my first. In July 2014, at the end of my Masters, we had a grad­u­a­tion show where we pre­sented our work. Heal’s came along and saw my de­signs, and pro­posed a col­lab­o­ra­tion. I met them at the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber and they showed me the

‘I draw sketches, then paint in a free way onto pa­per. Noth­ing I do is pre­de­ter­mined.’

mood­boards and colour pal­ette of the col­lec­tion they wanted me to work on. I put for­ward a few paint­ings and they se­lected ‘Le Jardin d’Été’ – a bright, sum­mery de­sign made up of blue, pink and turquoise flow­ers. This was then printed onto fab­ric by the me­tre, and cush­ions, tea tow­els and ce­ram­ics launched in March 2015.

More re­cently, I’ve been work­ing with French fab­ric house Mai­son Thevenon on a col­lec­tion of printed tex­tiles that will be launched in Septem­ber at in­te­ri­ors trade event Decorex, in Lon­don. Are there any more up­com­ing projects or col­lab­o­ra­tions you can share? I’m plan­ning a col­lab­o­ra­tion with an in­te­rior de­signer from New York and a tex­tile house in Lon­don. I’m also work­ing on my next col­lec­tion of printed tex­tiles. Was there a spe­cific plant or flower that in­spired your new col­lec­tions? For this lat­est col­lec­tion, it was flow­ers such as hy­drangeas, hort­en­sia and lupins. Some of the de­signs show flo­ral com­po­si­tions, drawn from pic­tures that I took in pub­lic gar­dens – they fea­ture rich colours, sub­tle de­tails and a va­ri­ety of shapes and move­ments. Some of the de­signs have been in­spired by the struc­ture of flow­ers them­selves – close-ups of their

‘Some of the de­signs have been in­spired by the struc­ture of f low­ers them­selves.’

in­di­vid­ual com­po­si­tions. The fol­low­ing col­lec­tion will be a con­tin­u­a­tion of this, more close-ups of a va­ri­ety of plants and flow­ers. I’d like them to be screen-printed onto soft linen and sold as fab­ric by the me­tre, with cush­ions too. Do you have a dream project? I’d love to de­sign a whole room from scratch in a pri­vate house or ho­tel. I’d cre­ate a com­plete set de­sign us­ing fab­ric, fur­ni­ture and wall paint­ings – a big in­stal­la­tion, or ‘room­scape’. This Sub­scribe at ex­pres­sion was coined by the Ital­ian in­te­rior de­signer Lorenzo Mon­gia­rdino, who has been a huge in­spi­ra­tion for me. What’s the most im­por­tant busi­ness les­son you’ve learnt? I’ve learnt to al­ways have a clear vi­sion for the project that I’m work­ing on and the steps that I need to take to see it through to fruition. And, I’ve learnt to be con­fi­dent that things will hap­pen as they’re meant to – I be­lieve that if I’m on the right road, ev­ery­thing will come to­gether.

Claire de Quéne­tain de­signs colour­ful fab­rics and home­ware in­spired by flo­ral gar­dens, us­ing fluid paint­ing tech­niques that have drawn com­par­isons with im­pres­sion­ist artist Matisse. Fol­low her on In­sta­gram @ claire deque net ai nor see more of her tex­tiles and paint­ings by vis­it­ing her web­site. www.claired­e­quene­tain.com

Find­ing your niche with...

01 In her liv­ing room Claire con­trasts the colour­ful wall paint­ing with black and white cush­ions. 02 A sneak peek at the colour pal­ette for her new tex­tile col­lec­tion. 03 Fab­rics are cre­ated through dig­i­tal and screen print­ing, although Claire hand-paints a few items too.

01 A unique, hand-painted piece of silk or­ganza. 02 You’ll find Claire’s de­signs on home­ware col­lec­tions too, like th­ese ‘Sabine’ nap­kins and painted plate. 03 All of Claire’s de­signs are in­spired by na­ture.

01 Claire’s home stu­dio is a riot of colour – you can see the tran­si­tion from swatch to paint­ing, through to the fin­ished prod­uct. 02 It was just two years ago that Claire started sell­ing her first own fab­ric ac­ces­sories. 03 All de­signs start with a sketch.

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