Wednesday 4 August 2010

Introducing... Lush Designs!

Meet Marie and Maria, the two lovely ladies behind Lush Designs. We simply can't get enough of their highly unique and alluring illustrations; from carrots to beetroot and foxes to wild pigs, there's even a bush baby thrown in to boot! Lush Designs kindly answered a few of our interview questions (and it's honestly true about the nuns)...

Tell us a bit about yourself... Who are you both, what do you do, and when/how did you start working together?
We met at art college and have worked together ever since, even staggering the production of our four children for convenience. We worked in community arts, the theatre, agit prop performance art, went to pottery classes, had terrible hairstyles. We’re the Morcambe and Wise of applied art.

You have a diverse range of products, from lampshades and tea towels to pillowcases and mugs. Do you have a favourite type of product that you like to design for, and why?
Tea towels are great to design for as they are a vehicle for our whimsical notions.

We have to explain them to tourists! "They are useful for drying dishes and cutlery or your hands – but they are a traditional souvenir and are meant to be displayed.” They stare blankly and explain that in Korea/Japan/Arkansas everyone has dishwashers.

“It’s a tray cloth!” I suggest brightly. This is invariably followed by a successful sale transaction.

We also love to design lampshades. The subtle interplay of opacity and translucency, the glowing of colour makes them a wondrous delight and the fact that it’s a panorama which meets itself coming round makes it an ideal vehicle for a narrative idea. Am I taking this too seriously?

What’s a typical day like for Lush Designs? Do you both work on the same designs, or tackle different subjects individually?
We tackle different areas of the business...

Marie: Maria designs and manages our shop and I tackle the wholesale and online with a bit of designing thrown in. Maria does most of the designing and I am hugely annoying as I have so many opinions on the progress of a design, but I will always defer to Maria on colour as she is usually spot on.

Maria: Marie is very organised and can corral my rogue ideas into work lists which ultimately become products. She tolerates my fanciful enthusiasms and isn’t even slightly annoying. We have a running joke whereby I say, "Marie’s my best friend” and Marie says “But Maria isn’t MY best friend”. I AM her best friend by the way.

Your typographical designs are ace – if you had to choose to only use one font for the rest of your lives, what would it be?
Helvetica of course. But no need because Marie has beautiful handwriting which she learned from nuns.

Pigs, horses, foxes, monkeys and birds; your designs seem to feature a lot of animals! If you were both animals, what would you be?
Marie: Craig (my husband) says I’d be a big white cat and I think Maria would be a chimp as they can see the same colours as humans and they are noisy and curious intelligent and social.

Maria: Yes, Marie would definitely be a white cat. Me, a noisy chimp.

We love your little Loris illustration that you created for a collection of stories to be published by Beautiful Books. Can you tell us a little more about the project?

Entitled Just When, the anthology is inspired by Kipling’s Just So Stories. Tamara Gray has collected contributions from writers including Michael Morpurgo and Hanif Kureishi; profits from book sales go to WildAid and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

Each story focuses on a different endangered species and the project is designed to draw attention to species that are driven to extinction by the actions of humans, in the hope that it will increase support for the agencies that campaign against the destruction of precious biodiversity.

Your shop in Greenwich Market looks like a wonderful treasure trove; how do you manage to tear yourself away and find time to work in the studio?
Maria: I use the shop as my studio. Its where I do a lot of my drawing. Meeting customers is a great way of stimulating ideas and has been the spawning ground for many a product. I put my drawings up on the wall behind the counter and visitors to the shop can see ideas in progress.

Marie: The studio is great as we are based at Cockpit Arts in Deptford and are surrounded by great designers. It’s a creative hotbed and the friendship and mutual support of fellow artists is amazing.

Do you listen to music whilst you design? If so, what kind of bands/artists do you like the most?
Marie: Sometimes I listen to Absolute 80s and will be enjoying the B-52s or Adam and the Ants but have to switch it off when Bryan Adams comes on. I listen to Radio 4 and today watched Celebrity Masterchef on BBC iPlayer.

Maria: I listen to all kinds of music from Rachel Unthank & The Winterset to N-Dubz. I’m going through a power ballad phase at the moment so I find myself with 'More Than a Feeling' turned up loud and on repeat when there’s no-one around to complain.

What books are you currently on your bedside tables and what are your favourite reads of all time?
Marie: Favourite book – Restoration by Rose Tremain and I've just read The Glass House. About to read The Good Soldier by David Finkel.

Maria: Just read Restless by William Boyd, and am reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. My favourite book is probably Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov or The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. I also loved Engleby by Sebastian Faulks.

And finally, who does the washing up in your households (and do they dry the dishes with your Lush Designs tea towels)?
Marie: My husband does the washing up as I do the cooking – we always use our tea towels apart from the ones of London Underground map.

Maria: My teenage son Billy and I do the washing up and we always use Lush Designs tea towels.

Fancy finding out a bit more about Marie and Maria? Check out their website and blog (which is incredibly funny and full of super interesting bits and bobs)!

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Dinosaur Day Out!

It was a bit dinosaurtastic in our household over the weekend; we've been out and about in Oxford, taking photos of some fantastic new dinosaur tea towels that we've just added to!

Produced for an exhibition in LA called 'When Superstars Ruled The World', Jay Jay Burridge's new dinosaur towels are a must for any palaeontologists, tea drinkers, or carnivorous design-lovers out there...

The lovely people over at Oxford's Natural History Museum gave us permission to pose with the Tea Rex tea towel in front of their marvellous T-Rex, although they probably hadn't bargained on their lifelike dino taking a chomp out of my head.

Andy, our super friendly local butcher, was very patient with us whilst we carefully positioned the Dino Meat Chart tea towel in between briskets. Triceratops sirloin, anyone?

Jay Jay's dinosaur tea towels are priced at £9.95 and are available in three different colourways per design. Check them out here...