Made in Britain
Inside the workshop of Alice Moylan, whose bright and bold lighting illuminates any room
From her Derbyshire studio, Alice Moylan puts a bright and bold contemporary twist on vintage-style lighting
In Alice Moylan’s petite workspace, tucked away on second floor of her Georgian cottage in the Derbyshire village of crich, shelves spill with fabric swatches and silks in jewel colours. Walls painted in Farrow & Ball’s deep Hague Blue provide the perfect, moody backdrop for her hand-sewn lampshades in vibrant and on-trend shades of hot pink, teal and mustard. echoing a glamorous, boudoir feel, these silk designs draw on elements of the iconic Art nouveau glass Tiffany lamps, and the intricately pleated and heavily fringed French Georgette shades of the 1920s. ‘I love Art Deco and the whole flapper dress, Gatsby era,’ Alice enthuses. ‘I also have quite a lot of prints by the French fashion illustrator of the time, erté (Romain de Tirtoff), who used to design covers for Vogue. They are quite precise and angular and he used wonderful colours. It’s this elegant style that has inspired me and translated into my work.’
As she talks, Alice dexterously pins some handwoven dupion silk to a scallop-edged black lampshade frame, gathering the folds and gradually pulling it taught over the skeletal shape. now using frames to her own designs that she has made by a local company, when Alice started Beauvamp in 2006, the vintage revival and upcycling trends were just starting to gain momentum on the interiors scene, and so, embracing the zeitgeist, she would upcycle vintage frames that she hunted out at antiques fairs and auctions.
‘I started the business just after the birth of my eldest son. I used to work in the events industry, and enjoyed the creativity in putting together stage sets and themes, but I wanted to do something even more creative, and be my own boss,’ Alice explains. she started by painting and upcycling vintage furniture, but the chance find of an old, slightly tattered standard lamp at an auction set her on a new path. ‘My mum was of the make-doand-mend generation and always sewing things, so she taught me to sew from an early age. I could envisage how I could upcycle old lampshades, but had to learn how to make them in the traditional manner, and the specific stitching that was used.’
Having mastered the techniques, Alice’s early designs were one-offs, revamping old shades with mismatched panels of vintage fabrics. In a stroke of pure serendipity, her husband, leon, is a ➤
self-employed electrician, so could assist with rewiring and making the vintage lighting fit for purpose. ‘I loved giving these old lights a new lease of life and hunting out the beautiful fabrics, but I could never make more than one of any design as they were so bespoke. To expand the business I knew I had to be able to recreate similar styles, so about two years ago I started exploring how I could design and have my own frames made.’
By virtue of their handmade nature, there will always be slight variations between each of the lampshades that Alice makes, but customers can now specify the shape, size, colour and finishes they desire – from decorative braids and fringing, dip-dyed effects, to colourful twisted fabric flexes and hand-turned and painted lampstands.
‘With these latest designs there is no lining to allow the light to shine through the textured silk, just as the Tiffany lamps were renowned for how much light filtered through the colourful glass,’ Alice explains. ‘The frames are left exposed and therefore become part of the design. next, I’d like to experiment with gold and bronze styles, too, and also industrial filament bulbs. But I’m finding new inspirations and ideas all the time.’
A glance around her beautiful home, which has involved a long-term renovation project to reinstate period features, highlights the eclectic inspirations she draws on – from Arts and crafts and William Morris patterns, Georgian and vintage, to mid-century modern. ‘I like taking something from the past with historical relevance and putting a bit of a contemporary twist on it,’ she explains.
In the pipeline is a design for a metal bridge lamp, inspired by a 1924 lighting advertisement that she found in her collection of vintage magazines, along with standard lamps in wood and metal. ‘I like to support other craftspeople where possible, and use local woodturners and blacksmiths to make the stands,’ Alice adds.
With orders mounting up for her self-styled lampshades, from both private and interior designer clients, she will soon need to take on extra hands to help with the sewing. ‘But I’d still like to remain hands-on, even if I expand,’ Alice confirms. ‘It’s coming up with the new shapes, deciding on the colourways and the making that I enjoy. I can’t ever see myself not doing that.’
Previous spread, left to right: Shades from her Tiffany Silk collection in vibrant hues, with double-layer tassel fringing – prices start at £275; Alice in her bijou studioLeft to right: Colourful flex, antique-style fittings and decorative braiding are among the bespoke finishes available; vintage inspirations; Alice attaches a dip-dyed fringe to a hand-sewn shade
From left to right: Alice collects vintage fabrics, but sources the handwoven dupion silks for her lampshades from James Hare in Leeds, which offers over 200 beautiful shades – ‘I try to pick on-trend colours for people to buy off the shelf, but they have the whole colour card to choose from if they want bespoke,’ she explains; utilising her husband’s electrician expertise, Alice sells fully wired lamps, from £475; one of her own blush-pink shades adorns the corner of her sitting room, which is full of Art Deco-style accessories