Best of Bri­tish

Trad-meets-tech cush­ions

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents -

IF THERE IS one mo­tif that char­ac­terises the work of print de­signer and cush­ion maker Eleni Malami, it is the leaf. Her vi­brant pat­terns are packed with colour and in­tri­cate de­tail, but what­ever the fin­ished prod­uct, her start­ing point always has its roots in botan­i­cal draw­ings.

Malami’s own roots are in Greece, where she lived un­til the age of 17. She then moved to London to study fashion at Cen­tral Saint Martins. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing with a de­gree in fashion design and mar­ket­ing in 2011, she went to work for the brand LK Ben­nett, hon­ing her tal­ents as a print de­signer.

When she de­cided to cre­ate her own prod­ucts in 2015, printed silk scarves were, she says, ‘the ob­vi­ous way to go’. But, two years later, af­ter mov­ing to Brighton, she branched out into home­ware, too – her de­but col­lec­tion of highly dec­o­ra­tive cush­ions launched last Fe­bru­ary.

To cre­ate a new design, Malami starts with a sim­ple, free­hand line drawing in black and white. Af­ter she has com­pleted the ini­tial sketch, she scans it on her com­puter, prints it out and then works on the printed ver­sion us­ing wa­ter­colours, coloured mark­ers and pen and ink, build­ing up the background by ad­ding de­tail and tex­ture. ‘I tend to have a sea­sonal colour pal­ette, so that the col­lec­tion works to­gether as a whole,’ she says, ‘but I don’t stick to it rigidly.’

When she is happy with the design, she scans it again, tweaks the im­age with Pho­to­shop, and sends it to be dig­i­tally printed at a fac­tory in Worces­ter­shire.

Once she has re­ceived the printed fab­rics, Malami makes the cush­ions her­self – her fashion background prov­ing in­valu­able when it comes to pat­tern cut­ting and con­struc­tion – ad­ding pom­poms, tas­sels or fring­ing. She keeps a stash of trim­mings in her stu­dio, which she of­ten ex­per­i­ments with.

Her cush­ions are now sold in Lib­erty, as well as in in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques and on her web­site. Her next plan is to ex­pand her home­ware range with ta­ble li­nens and wall­pa­pers – ‘mainly be­cause I’m dec­o­rat­ing my own flat’, she ad­mits.

Inspiratio­n for her pat­terns of­ten comes from An­cient Greek arts, such as em­broi­dery. ‘I re­ally like the idea of us­ing a tra­di­tional mo­tif, but in a mod­ern way,’ she says. ‘Some of the cush­ions I make are based on em­broi­deries done by my grand­mother. I find a ref­er­ence that I like for the main element of the pat­tern and try to make it my own.’ elen­i­

By Jes­sica Doyle. Pho­to­graphs by Dul­cie Wagstaff

Above Eleni Malami sits be­low inspiratio­n pic­tures and her own art­works, which are trans­formed into colour­ful cush­ions. Right Malami at work on a design.

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