x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Designer Living: Botany inspires Clarissa Hulse

The textile designer draws on motifs and patterns from the botanical world.

Clarissa in her Islington design studio. Courtesy of Clarissa Hulse
Clarissa in her Islington design studio. Courtesy of Clarissa Hulse

Where do you live and how long have you lived there?

I've lived in Islington, north London, since I was four years old. We used to have a period property with dark grey walls and lots of colourful accessories but now we're in a rented house because we're building an all-in-one home and studio from scratch. We're hoping it will be finished in a year and a half, depending on planning permission.

What will your new house be like?

It's going to be very modern. I've only lived in old, Georgian houses, so I'm quite nervous about it all.

I want it to feel warm and have soul. I'm not a fan of hard edges and cold minimalism. The architects we've hired are very creative, so I know we're in good hands. Their previous projects are really unusual. Our rooms are going to be quite strange shapes with loads of interesting angles. It's really exciting.

Will you incorporate your own designs in to your home?

Yes, definitely. I've always lived with my own products. Various samples seem to find their way home from the studio on a regular basis.

I've got a real motley crew of seconds and cushions that I've fallen for. Lots of my patterns sit well together, even if they're from different collections, so a mixture works well.

What does your home say about you?

That I'm a chaotic maximalist. I can't throw anything away and I accumulate so much clutter. My husband's the same, unfortunately. We have lots of inherited objects and items picked up on our travels. Renting has been a good de-cluttering process for us because so many of our belongings are in storage. It's amazing what you don't need.

Which items could no home of yours be without?

After an exhibition once, I did a swap with a glass-blower called Aaronson Noon. He took some of my cushions and I took some of his stunning vases. They're brightly coloured with flecks of gold leaf and are just to die for. Guests always comment on them.

Where do you like to shop for pieces for your home?

I get a lot of furniture from the London department store Heal's, and The Conran Shop. I'm not really into trawling vintage markets. I mostly buy pieces from other designer-makers at shows.

What inspired you to choose the career you did?

I knew from the age of 14 that I wanted to be a textile designer. I went on a school French trip and my exchange partner had been given a silk-painting craft kit. I was completely transfixed by all the colours and spent the whole week painting silk. My poor partner was probably really bored and irritated. I fell in love with fabric and colour. Even today, it's not work for me. It's a passion.

What are you working on right now?

I've just launched a collection of fabrics and wallpapers with Harlequin called Kallianthi, which means "wild flowers" in ancient Greek. It's a massive range of 38 different designs.

I'm working on some picnic-ware and outdoor products for John Lewis at the moment, and I'm talking to another shop about a collection but we haven't signed the contract yet, so it's still secret.

How would you describe your style?

It's vibrant, warm and eclectic. I love the play of colours together.

Who or what inspires you?

Nature is a designer itself and nobody can beat it. I find infinite inspiration in the botanical world. It never ceases to amaze me.

I admire artists more than furniture designers: painters such as Mark Rothko and Andy Goldsworthy.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?

San Francisco. It's beside the sea, has an amazing climate and a really creative vibe. I'm half Greek so I love Athens, too. Greece has such gorgeous food and great weather.

How do you like to relax?

I love entertaining, but because we're renting it's not very easy at the moment because we have an Aga cooker, which I hate. We eat out at restaurants a lot and watch contemporary dance shows, which I love.

What is the best way to update a room quickly?

Wallpaper a wall and buy a couple of new cushions that coordinate with the colours in the paper. You can have a whole new look in a single afternoon. Pattern transforms an interior in an instant.

Clarissa Hulse's latest collection for Harlequin is available through Avenue Interiors. Visit www.avenueinteriors.ae for store locations.