Five Go Mad

Thursday 25 February 2010

Q and A with Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason's beautiful contemporary homeware and accessories are sought after worldwide, with her most wanted die-cut Stella rugs short listed for the Homes and Gardens Classic Design Award in 2009. 

We caught up with Michelle to find out more about her and her work. 

When did you become interested in art and design?
Ever since I can remember, I was always making things and drawing as a little girl. At secondary school I had a brilliant art teacher, she inspired me to do a design degree.

Why did you decide to set up your company?

I'd been thinking about it for ages, and coincidentally, was invited to show at the Milan Furniture Fair in 2005 with Hidden Art London. On my return to the UK I decided to set up in business. I've been freelance since July 2008 and loving it.

What advice would you give to someone looking to do the same?

If it feels right just do it.

Where does your inspiration come from for your designs and products?

Absolutely everywhere; old films, a walk in the park, a holiday snapshot, a piece of vintage fabric.

What are you working on at the moment?

An exciting new project for the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield and a collection of cushions for House of Fraser, Scotland.

What is your favourite medium to work with?
I love good quality pencil crayons and paper but it ultimately has to be drawn on the computer, all my manufacturing requires digital files.

Where are your products made?
Everything is made in the UK. 

What is your take on the Design Industry in the UK?
Much of my manufacturing takes place in London and I also work with factories in Stoke on Trent. They've found it really hard there. A couple of places I worked with had to close down. It's really sad, Britain is losing all this talent. It will never be replaced if the skills aren't passed to younger generations.

What about your own designs, any favourites?

The Egg bone china candle holders, I have a big group of them at home, and the Stella felt rug.

Have you done any collaborations?
I have got together with other designers, mostly just ideas up until now, but one day it would be nice to have something produced collaboratively.

Why did you decide to get involved with five go mad?
They approached me and I liked the look of the brand. The fact they are supportive of good quality, British made products too.

Five go Mad's slogan is "Quintessentially British" what does that mean
to you?

Well made, a bit different and bit quirky.

I always think cream teas and quaint teashops when i think "Quintessentially British". Do you have any favourite British food?
Fish, chips and mushy peas, preferably in Yorkshire.

Do you have a Favourite British shop or cafe? 
Monmouth Coffee house in Borough Market where you can sit at trestle tables with big slices of bread and homemade jam.

By Liz Appleby

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Q and A with Hanna Melin

Freelance Artist and Illustrator Hanna Melin was born in Sweden and moved to the UK to study art and design. Now based in London, Hanna's drawings have been animated for music videos and commercials alike. 

What is your earliest memory of creating art or drawing?
Around five years old I remember learning to cross-stitch with my grandmother . She knew everything about embroidery and sewing. I would also invite my best friend to come and sew with me. My Grandmother came over once a week and so our embroidery club was formed.

Who was the first illustrator/artist you discovered that inspired you?
From an early age i always liked illustrated books. My favorites when I was young were the magical worlds and characters of the Swedish children book illustrators, Ilon Wikland and Sven Nordqvist. I thought, this is something I want to do.

How would you describe your work to those unfamiliar with it?
Line drawings that manage to capture a mood or personality.

What is your favourite medium to work with?

What are you currently working on?
A project for a publisher in New York, it's an open brief. I have to respond to the word Nostalgia. I am also designing wrapping paper for a company in Canada and developing new products for my online shops.

Britain and the British way of life is obviously a huge influence in your work, what is the appeal for you?
I love the people and going to supermarkets or shopping centres to look/stare at people. They are a great source of inspiration for me.

Why did you decide to link up with FiveGoMad? 
It's always good to spread your work to a wider audience. I like the look of the website and the selection of designers are great.

The FiveGoMad slogan is "Quintessentially British" what does that mean to someone who grew up outside Britain?
My first experience of England was Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus. I bought a bag at Harrods, I thought Is this it? I feel sorry for tourists today walking up and down Oxford Street looking for a pub or cafe that won't cost the world. 
It's also all my wonderful British friends I have made and the home I have created. My friends go for long walks that end up in the pub. That's something you don't really do in Sweden. That's quite "Quintessentially British" for me.

Who do you consider a British icon?
Twiggy, Paul Smith, Terence Conran, Mr Bean

Do you enjoy British food,  is there a particular favourite?
Traditional British food is a bit heavy for me. I could understand it if you worked in a mine but I don't! I love the variety of food. I don't like British food, but I like the food in Britain.

You live in London, any particular cafe you couldn't live without?
Climpson and Son, Broadway market.

by Liz Appleby 

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