Saturday 1 April 2017

Neisha Crosland - Pattern Maker Extraordinaire!

Patterns are at the very core of interior design. More often than not, pattern is what creates interest and also texture in a space. And texture is the cardinal rule in creating not just well designed spaces, but enviable, unforgettably beautiful interiors. Textiles, fabrics and wallpaper are also used to create interest, introduce colour or create a neutral palette.

Neisha Crosland is a textile and surface pattern designer known for her elegant, well balanced repeats of geometrics and flowers, unusual colour combinations and her ability to design patterns for a wide range of products, techniques and mediums. Her products include a plethora of fabric, wallpaper, rugs, tiles, stationery, book covers, fine china and fashion accessories. In 2016 she published her book, Neisha Crosland Life of a Pattern and her exquisite work is archived at the V&A Museum. Needless to say I was beyond thrilled, when the opportunity came about to interview Neisha for La Maison Jolie.
[Neisha Crosland at her studio, background - Neisha Crosland Haveli Tile Collection - available through De Ferranti]

Can you share with us your creative journey to where you are now?

At an early age, I was very intrigued by the detailing in plants like the checks on fritillaries, the veins on leaves and the shapes of a giant gunera and markings on shells.

When I was a little older, it was painters that inspired me particularly Picasso, Matisse and the Russian avant garde artists like Popova Rodchenko. A missed turn in the V&A Museum on my way to a lecture found me in the Ottoman galleries and I knew immediately that I wanted to design textiles. Despite their age, the bold rich graphics on velvet and silk looked so utterly modern and hugely inspiring.
[Bamboo Trellis Rug, Blue, available through The Rug Company]

What has been the inspiration behind your brand and your bespoke designs?

I really do not see myself as a brand but as a designer. I enjoying designing pattern with specific products in mind and I enjoy considering the manufacturing process that best suits the mood that I want to achieve.

How would you define your style and how has it evolved over the years?

I hope that my designs are well balanced, elegant and have an interesting take on colour combinations. I like to think that I have a distinctive style but that my designs still resonate a familiarity with bygone eras and cultures.
Nothing is new, it has all been done - ancient cultures were carving and painting wonderful geometric patterns on all sorts of things. You just need to have a different point of view to make it interesting and fresh.
[Image on right: Culpeper wallpaper, colour Ox Orange, available through Turnell and Gigon]

Do you have a favourite collection or design?

Usually the one I am working on or else it would be a bit depressing if I felt that I was about to produce a second-rate design! However, I can say that ZEBRA and Hollywood GRAPE are two of my favourites.
[Zebra Cut Velvet fabric, Silver Blue, available through Turnell and Gigon | Zebra Cut Velvet fabric on sofas in Annabel's Nightclub, London]

What is a typical workday like for you? 

My studio is attached to my house so commute is nonexistent. I am always working on several collections at a time and all of them are at different stages of evolution. I start the day with catching up with Ivan, my studio co-coordinator on diary and dates, deadlines and meetings be it with PR or licensee meetings and also with Beth who works on the digitising of my designs. Any new idea starts with a hand painted, hand drawn artwork as I have never worked on a computer to create my designs. My brain is still wired to a pencil and paintbrush but of course nowadays everything has to be sent to the mills or printers or manufacturers by way of a digital file. I think that I am in a very privileged position as to be have been trained in an era where the craft and hand painting was the backbone of designing but also have the computer era as a valuable tool. It means I can achieve a lot more. Samples are always coming in from the manufacturers for approval before they go to final production. Samples arriving in the studio is like Christmas morning, especially to finally see something that you have only seen drawn out on paper or a computer screen come in as a tile or fabric or wallpaper is tremendously exciting.
I try to get to exhibitions for research and often have photoshoots to organise for marketing brochures and PR. The weekends are my time of complete peace without any distractions - no phones ringing or people to interact with so this is when I can really get into the creative zone –I love this. My house and garden give me huge pleasure and respite but also need quite a lot of maintaining and I have a family too to look after so it is often a juggling act.

Can you describe the design process?

As I am always working on different things rugs, tiles, fabrics, scarves, stationery and flooring, I have to be very organised. I have a pin board where I pin all of my sources of inspiration –everything from a ribbon or a postcard, to a photograph of a painting or artefact or even just a doodle; seemingly random pictures of things that have taken my fancy. I also write notes and pin them on the board. I live with these inspirations until I get the urge to do something with them.
I start to sketch some ideas roughly in a sketchbook - and I find that it really helps to give them working names at this point. The ideas will join up with each other and evolve or just get edited out; it’s survival of the fittest or best idea.
When I am confident that I am on to something I’ll map it out life size –not computer screen size. Life size is very important it gives it the accurate real life feeling. I do this in black and white or pencil since it’s important to get the structure and bones of a design just right before I start colouring it, as colouring it at this point would be a distraction. I experiment with various scales and repeats and composition before I feel happy with committing to the final draft. The colouring comes last (but not least) - this is the time to give the design its mood. The great thing with pattern making is that you can do several colour-ways which gives each version a new lease of life and a different mood. A painting in fine art only comes in one colour-way!
[Neisha Crosland in her studio, designing Culpeper Wallpaper]

What are you working on at the moment?

I am just fine tuning colours on a floral tile collection made in Sicily to launch in spring, wallpapers block print fabric, carpets and throw collection, hand embroidery to follow for September and next year's launch and I have just delivered the S/S18 scarf collection for Hankyu Department store in Japan. I have embroidery on hessian with metal thread and velvet appliqué and a new vinyl flooring collection which is launching this spring.

What according to you is the next big thing in textile / interior design?

For me joyous – sensitive florals.
Well-crafted products with soul and above all beautiful.
I do also think flooring is getting a lot of attention.
[Check Vinyl Tile, Colour: Flint, available through Harvey Maria]

What advice can you give those seeking a career in textile / interior design?

I would say absorb as much as possible of what our predecessors have done – go right back through the ages and delight in it by visiting museums books and antique textile dealers and auction houses. I think this applies to all creative people - you need to look and be able to see as much as possible to gather your influences before you can process your own ideas.

What 3 words describe your brand?

The three words I would hope my work to be described as are fresh... joyous... distinctive!
[Floris Tile Collection, available soon through De Ferranti]

Can you share 3 things people don’t know about you?

Love dancing, very tidy - love cleaning and pottering!

Which is your favourite room in your home and why?

My relaxing bedroom /bathroom ensuite! I love my bedtime routine of a hot bath with Santa Maria bath salts and a tisane with the late night news on the telly!
[Check Vinyl Floor Tile, available through Harvey Maria]

Where do you see your brand in five years time?

I see myself doing what I am doing now ….more collections, no compromise on design and still loving it!
[Hollywood Grape fabric, Platinum, available through Harvey Maria | Siamese Sofa, available through India Mahdavi]

What's your favourite inspirational quote?

I have a few favourite inspirational quotes...

"Of course, one never knows what’s going to come out, but as soon as the drawing gets underway, a story or an idea is born. And that’s it. Then the story grows, like theatre or life –and the drawing is turned into other drawings, a real novel" ~ From Roberto Otero, Forever Picasso: an intimate look at his last years. New york: Harry N Abrams 1974, p170
I love this as it illustrates how one piece of creative work is never isolated from another –it is all a big chain, each piece is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that fits together at the very end. To appreciate things, you need to take time and stand back and look at it all, contrary to our modern world of instant gratification.

"I believe my role is to provide calm. Because I myself am in need of peace" ~ Henri Matisse
I love this because I find that pattern is very calming and maybe this is why I am a pattern maker.

"Both scientist and artist are marked with the same need to express themselves, though the scientist is primarily concerned with relating knowledge, while the artist appeals to the emotions of his fellow human beings. The artist is not nearly as interested in the number of stamens of a flower as in its beauty, a person’s charisma or the atmosphere of a storm-tossed sea." ~ Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Art Forms in nature the Prints of Ernst Haeckel
Living in a house of scientific minds it explains the difference of the two minds perfectly.

[Image on right: Neisha Crosland Life of a Pattern book, published by Merrell, available through the Neisha Crosland Online Store]
[Neisha at her studio, in front of her Haveli Tile Collection, available through De Ferranti]

Textures and patterns have a huge role in defining the style of any interior space. Neisha's book, Life of a Pattern explores the source of her inspirations, and takes you through the creative journey that starts from the first idea to the final product. Neisha's love for textiles, wallpaper, homes and fashion have won her international acclaim and it is inspiring to read how she creates beautiful patterns that are distinctive, elegant and timeless.
For a selection of Neisha Crosland products, have a look here.

Till next time... create beauty with patterns!

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