I interviewed gorgeous Welsh designer Sian Elin to find out more about her designs and what inspired her.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What was the catalyst that led you to launch Sian Elin and become a surface pattern designer?
I worked for five years as a children’s book designer in both London and Oxford, where I used to work with illustration and pattern quite a bit. I used to visit exhibitions like New Designers (which I just exhibited at) as part of my role, and it was there that I met young designers in the One Year On section exhibiting their designs on their own wares.
I’d always had an interest in interior design and products and so combining that with pattern seemed like the perfect union. In addition I’d always wanted to work for myself and obtained a keen interest in business whilst working for large publishing companies – and so I took the plunge in 2012 and developed my own brand.
Describe your design aesthetic or style?
I love geometric patterns, I find them addictive to look at. It may seem strange to some people since they are so abstract but you can find them in buildings and all over cities across the world, which I find really exciting.
Geometrics allow the perfect union of colour and shape which is what the Sian Elin brand is all about. I really love bold and modern designs, and am a big fan of mid-century modern.
We sell a couple of your cushions (Peacocks and Tress). Can you explain the actual digital printing process?
I hand draw my patterns, and then I digitally colour them on screen. They then get digitally printed on a very large scale printer in the North of England, before making their way back to me to be sewn up in Wales.
I understand you are inspired a lot by your travels. Can you name some specific things that inspired you in the past, or inspire you now?
I am particularly drawn to Islamic patterns – and love the history and story behind them. The Alhambra in Spain is full to the brim with Moorish designs which are indescribably beautiful. I can’t quite believe that anyone was so clever as to design and make these beautiful tiles, and so many years ago. The Taj Mahal in India was a big inspiration for my first collection too.
I love traveling to different cities all over the world, and find them very exciting and inspiring. I like to try and capture some of the outside to put inside.
Can you describe a typical work day? Do you work from home or do you have a separate studio/workspace?
At the moment I work from home because I have the space, but am considering a co-working space, because I think it’s important to bounce ideas off other creatives.
A typical working day would be dealing with any orders, packaging, sending them out. Responding to emails, marketing my products online via social media etc. And working on new designs for my upcoming collection which I will be launching at Tent London this September.
Do you live in Cardiff? What’s the best kept secret in your local area?
I live just outside Cardiff in a small village which is very pretty and quiet. There is a beautiful vineyard down the road called Llanerch, which on a sunny day, makes you feel like you could be in the South of France!
What’s your favourite part of Wales?
Definitely the Pembrokeshire coast – growing up it’s been a constant source of inspiration and escapism for me. In fact parts of it remind me of the Australian coast!
What’s your proudest career achievement to date?
I guess just plucking up the courage to leave my full time job, and security, and start my business and get out there! It’s been a hard journey so far, but a very fun one and I wouldn’t change it for anything!
Can you share some tips for choosing and arranging cushions in the home?
You can definitely mix and match many cushions in lots of different styles in your home. The more the better! All you need to do is make sure the colours match or go, then you can go crazy with the styles. You can see how a couple of my cushions were styled alongside others in a recent magazine feature in Good Homes: www.sianelin.com/press-features/good-homes-magazine-july-2013/
Buy Sian's stunning cushions online at Yellow Front Door www.yellowfrontdoor.com.au There are five designs to choose from, which makes mixing and matching much easier for a cohesive, coordinated look.