Five Go Mad

Friday 18 December 2009

Q and A with Lizzie Allen

Lizzie Allen creates bespoke hand screen-printed Wallpaper. Lizzie has lived in different cities throughout her career and her inspiration for her designs and prints comes from those life experiences. 

Five go mad caught up with her recently to hear what she is working on at the moment.

So what made you set up your own company?
The Crafts Council visited my University, Winchester School of Art to talk about a two year business start up scheme, The Next Move. I jumped at it, I thought I had something different to bring to the market.

You lived in Dubai and New York, as well as the UK. What influence has this had?
I appreciate my home town London but I also experienced different cultures, a huge inspiration now.

Your work tells a story. What are your inspirations?
Everyday life, places, people and daily Routines. I express this through drawing and printing, for example, 'London City Gents’ or ‘Jazz in Central Park’. Designers like William Morris too, he said, “do not have anything in your home you believe not to be beautiful".

You work alongside British designers in Cockpit Studios, South East London. That must be inspiring.
Yes, we are in the same boat and can help each other out, it's not the most important thing when I design though. I am inspired by design outside my field too. Britain has some of the most cutting edge design in the world. British Designers push boundaries, its inspirational.

You were awarded funding from the Crafts Council to set up.
Yes, such schemes are vital. I got help from Crafts Council and Arts Council. The support such agencies offer is great. It's extremely accessible for artists and designers in Britain compared to other countries.

You source and use materials from sustainable sources.
Yes, sustainability is becoming one of the most important parts of product design due to the situation worldwide. If everyone did their bit it would slow down the global warming process. I think I could do more.

What methods do you use to produce your wallpaper?
Screen printing, one of the oldest. It all started with hand block printing and screen printing. It's one of the most effective ways for me to get an image onto surface material. Amazing quality, lift up your screen and it could be a disaster or a beautiful accident.

Your designs often feature traditional imagery.
I like to combine traditional imagery as it's often timeless, nostalgic, with meaning and history. I’ve been taught to appreciate our heritage.

Would you describe yourself as a purely British designer?
Yes. England is my home, i consider myself a British designer inspired by the surroundings and world I live in.

Which British designer would you most like to work with?
Wedgwood ceramics or on a furniture piece with Heals. I am working with Paul Smith at the moment. They sell my wallpaper and cushions in the furniture shop in Mayfair, it's one of my faves.

What comes to mind when considering ‘Best of British’?
Something or anything that will become a classic or is timeless, created by someone British and preferably made here.

Who is your favourite British icon?
I’ll give you a few, I can’t choose! The Queen, Bob Geldolf, Sir Paul McCartney or Freddie Mercury for the music. Last, but not least, Sir David Attenborough. Love them all.

What is your favourite British food?
British food isn't my favourite ironically. If I had to pick a British food maybe fish and chips.

Do you have a favourite British shop/cafe?
Favourite café is ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’, around the corner from my house in Hither Green, South London. Scrumptious teas, coffees, sandwiches and cakes and very pretty flowers.


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