x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Designer Living: Donna Wilson embraces 'maximalism' in her London flat

The Scottish knitting sensation on the importance of texture, natural light and open spaces.

Donna Wilson in her London studio. Courtesy of Donna Wilson
Donna Wilson in her London studio. Courtesy of Donna Wilson

Where do you live?

I live in a flat in Shoreditch, East London, but it's way too small, so I'm house-hunting at the moment. I'm really hoping to find a bigger place in the same area because this is where my studio is and I like being able to cycle to work every day.

What do you look for in a home?

Natural daylight is crucial. I go for big windows and plenty of space - not always easy to find in London. I'm a real fan of period properties with character such as quirky converted churches and schools, but my secret dream is to have an open-plan, warehouse-style all-in-one studio and home overlooking the sea.

What's your current workspace like?

It's big - 2,000 square feet - in a friendly building that we share with lots of other creative people. There's a photographer downstairs who we work with, and my friend, the designer Thorsten van Elten, is a few doors up, so we have our own wee network.

Which items could no home of yours be without?

A set of six vases from my friend, the glass blower Michael Ruh. They're all different shapes and colours, and I watched him make them, so they're very special.

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

I shop from designer-makers whenever I can. I can't resist popping into vintage shops if I'm passing. A lot of my furniture is second-hand.

Do you incorporate elements of your work into your home, or do you like to keep your domestic environment separate?

I wouldn't want my home to be filled with my own designs - that would send me a bit mad. I do have some of my own products at home, though: a knitted pouffe and a patterned throw.

What are you working on right now?

I've just released a range of limited-edition screen-prints and I'm putting together a knitting installation for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I've just come back from a tiny island off the coast of Canada because I've been commissioned by a hotel there to design some furniture, and we're preparing for the Maison et Objet show in Paris.

What or who inspired you to choose the career you did?

My late grandmother was a great teacher and a talented artist. She nurtured me from an early age. My sister and I spent hours drawing with her. One day, I made some jewellery and she took me to the local craft shop and encouraged me to start selling pieces. That's when I realised that maybe I could earn a living doing something I loved.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Landscapes, music, dreams, textiles, books, magazines, ceramics, Scandinavia - even people. Sometimes, the tiniest thing can trigger an idea, which is then developed into a product.

How would you describe your interior style?

Eclectic, colourful and happy. Minimalism isn't really me. I love white walls as a blank canvas, but I always go for colourful pieces of furniture and accessories.

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

I'd love to live in New York for a year. The Brooklyn area has such a great atmosphere. There are so many little cafes and shops. It makes me feel as if anything's possible.

How do you like to relax?

Every week, I swim outdoors at Lido in London Fields, a park near here. It's really refreshing and great exercise. Even if it's cold, once you're in, it's fine. I even go when it's raining. Steam rises from the pool and it's quite dramatic.

I was brought up on a Scottish farm, so I always crave open space. I like to escape from the city to the countryside whenever I can for some fresh air and a walk beside a river.

What is the best way to simply and instantly update a room?

Introducing new textiles can make a huge difference to the look of a room without any actual decorating. Textured rugs and throws are perfect for injecting new colours in to an old scheme.

For more information visit www.donnawilson.com