Collaboration is always exciting; it’s a chance to explore fresh ideas, reach, meet, inspire and be inspired by new people, situations and surroundings. It is the perfect way to flex creative muscles. So, when the idea was suggested that Wendy create a product range for major French retailer Monoprix, she embraced the opportunity. Monoprix was the first large store to collaborate with designers to create limited-edition fashion and homeware collections, and this year marks the retailer’s 20th anniversary of collaborations.
‘I was delighted to be involved,’ Wendy explains, ‘my only stipulation was that we created products I loved and would use myself, which led to a range of tableware, womenswear and a few favourite homeware pieces. I was really excited at the thought. It gave me the opportunity to explore new product design outside my more-familiar world of rugs.’
As the products are now available in French stores, we thought it might be interesting to share Wendy’s thoughts about the process and her inspiration behind these new pieces.
‘I was initially contacted by Monoprix after someone on their team had seen my Instagram feed. My rug designs are at the heart of the collection and I took inspiration from three mood board storylines. The first one, called Colour Cure, uses colour to create a feeling of hope, optimism and positivity. I am drawn to colour and certain colour combinations. I love the way colour can be used to create a mood or feeling, and always feel colour can be incredibly uplifting.
‘The second, Nature’s Calling, was based on the fact that nature is a wonderful source of inspiration for me. I am inspired by how being in harmony with nature makes us feel nurtured, happy and safe. There are also elements of chinoiserie within this story, a decorative style I find endlessly inspiring, I love its timeless elegance.
‘The final one, Talisman, is based around storytelling, which is at the core of weaving, and my rug and wallpaper designs. It just makes sense to me to use and build stories into design, which lends an extra element, adding to the pictorial look of a piece. Storytelling within design helps create a truly unique and timeless piece. There are also ideas here sparked by Asian mythology and the use of symbols from nature, which is another deep source of inspiration for me.
‘It was interesting seeing my ideas translate into something completely different. My Cheetah Florals rug design inspired a skirt, which is one of my favourite pieces. The cheetah print underskirt and the floral embroidered voile is very pretty, although I also love the way my colourful Arc en Ciel rug design translates onto print and fabric. I feel Arc en Ciel works well on everything and I’ve been wearing the colourful skirt and dress a lot. Another major design influence was Birdsong Yellow, which transformed into a beautiful kimono, while Zebra Leopard Palms translated beautifully into a teapot and side plate. Kimono Gold works really well as tableware, notebooks and a scarf, while Leopard Palms makes a lovely cushion and kimono.
‘Most of my design work is pictorial and it has been an exciting challenge to develop it into pattern repeats suitable for print. The wonderful yarns used in our rugs very much bring my artwork to life, so with print the challenge is to create texture and depth using colour and pattern combined with interesting base papers and fabrics.
‘I would define my style as eclectic, but I hope it has a refined element too. I am naturally drawn to colour, and I love using black and neutrals – including gold – to ground designs. I think animal print is the ultimate neutral because of its depth and richness. I feel prints require a little grounding with a neutral colour or pattern, or by using a solid colour within the pattern. I always love the addition of an unexpected colour.
‘If you want to add a bit of colour or pattern to your home, but are unsure how to begin, start small, with little pieces of pattern that make you smile. A colour accent or a surprising piece of pattern that we like, or feel drawn to, can really lift the spirits. Tableware is a good way of introducing colour and pattern, as are soft furnishings and textiles.
‘Find pieces you love that make you smile. Move them around your home to freshen rooms up – you will be surprised how well pieces you love will work in different spaces. Life is too short to follow or conform to trends – stick with the things that bring you joy and happiness.
‘I have been styling up ideas for happy, celebratory tables. I love combining surprising elements and adding a mix of colour. I’ve been playing around with the Zebra Leopard Palms plate and teapot, both of which I love, and the Kimono Gold octagonal side plate always makes me smile. Both Zebra and Cheetah Florals have translated well into bowls and side plates. Zebra Waltz also makes a nice side plate and Birdsong Yellow has made a delightful little plate, perfect for olives. Everything sits comfortably on a Birdsong Black tablecloth with co-ordinating napkins.
‘A table is such a small area you can let your imagination run quite freely. And by mixing and matching different pieces and trying out new combinations, you can create a different look and feel every time. It adds a real fun element to interiors and, as anyone who follows me on Instagram will know, I do like to play around with a bit of styling!’