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