Best of British
From doodles to handmade wallpaper
AS A BOY, DANIEL HEATH spent many happy evenings with his parents and four siblings at their home in Eastbourne, watching Wildlife on One and sketching the animals he saw. Several decades later, and now a successful wallpaper designer, Heath, 35, still loves to draw wildlife – in particular birds, which appear in many of his designs. ‘I can’t seem to shake them,’ he says. ‘Birds are beautiful to draw be cause you can create a dynamic design by having one flying and another one poised in a tree.’
He first began designing wallpaper as a student, largely because using fabric was too expensive. ‘I had great patterns but couldn’t afford to do a fabric collection, so decided to try it on wallpaper instead,’ he explains. After graduating with a master’s in printed textiles from the Royal College of Art, he set up his eponymous business in 2007 and since then his work has been shown at The Design Museum and London Design Festival, and he has worked with Anthropologie, Farrow & Ball and Heal’s.
Working from a light-flooded studio in east London, he can make a 10-metre roll of wallpaper in a day. He creates it by designing patterns in his sketchbook, then transposing them on to long rolls of wallpaper using silk-scre en printing, a te chnique that involves printing from stencils with a screen made from fabric stretched tightly over a frame. He then he coats the wallpaper in decorators’ varnish to protect it, rolls it up and places it in a wooden box to be sent to customers.
One of his most popular designs, Eastern Peacocks (priced at £350 per 10m roll), which shows birds strutting around decorative colonial palaces, is inspired by trips to Nicaragua, Morocco and Portugal. ‘I sketched while I was there, took photographs and collected artefacts and textiles,’ he recalls.
In fact, many of his designs are influenced by his interest in different cultures, which was ignited as a boy when his parents invited exchange students from other countries to stay with them. ‘To grow up with that was exciting,’ he recalls. ‘It broadened my horizons from an early age.’
As to the future, Heath has expanded his repertoire to teaching, hosting a series of experiences with Airbnb in London, showing people how to make art deco wallpaper using silk-screen printing. Though a leap from life as a solitary craftsman, he enjoys the process. ‘It ’s good for people to know where their things are coming from,’ he says. danielheath.co.uk; airbnb.co.uk/experiences
From top Heath’s Eastern Peacocks wallpaper; Daniel Heath in his studio; ongoing inspiration