Made in Bri­tain

Period Living - - Contents - Words Rachel Crow Pho­to­graphs Fiona Walker-arnott

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

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