Whilst at home during Lockdown Deirdre not only finished the designs for her 2021 rug collection but also found time to create an artwork for her home.
Here Deirdre describes, in her own words, the process of creating this painting, inspired by one of her carpets and shares her photographs of the painting as it developed.
‘There is a shallow alcove in the stone wall of our orangery which has been crying out for a mural for some time. When lockdown happened, and I knew I had a stretch of uninterrupted time, I decided that I could use this time for painting one on a pre-prepared board in my studio.
One of my earlier carpet designs called WINDSWEPT (pictured above) depicted leaves being swept from one end to the other. I decided that falling leaves as if outside in a breeze would be simple and would require no background setting except sky. I could aim at painting just a couple of leaves a day and hopefully finish it before the lockdown ended.
It is especially appropriate too as the leaves I used in both the carpet and painting all come from my garden so the panel would be perfect for its new home.
The panel was really tall so I had steps to reach to top and climb up and down all the time to reach my materials – good for fitness! I painted the whole background as a graded sky from a deep cobalt blue fading to a whiter sky at the bottom.
I had kept all the sketches from my original research and collected many more leaves too. It wasn’t too difficult painting them against the sky as they really seem to float but I also painted a step at the bottom to tie with a real step in the orangery, and these leaves each had to have a shadow to anchor them to the ground which took quite a bit longer.
They also had to look a bit dry as if aged, and as if they were lying down instead of floating which added a bit more of a challenge. It will be finished soon I hope, and after varnishing with matt varnish, installed in its home amongst a variety of tropical plants.’
We’ve focused on creativity and staying #INspired during lockdown. Deirdre has also been busy, using this time at home to work on next year’s rug collection.
Initially started at the London Gallery and continuing from her studio at home, Deirdre always begins work on new collections in February/March, nearly one year ahead of launch, at January’s Maison et Objet Paris. In this sense lockdown couldn’t have come at a better time. So without giving too much away here is a sneak peak of what is to come.
Having to be just as resourceful during these difficult times, Deirdre decided to find inspiration away from the natural world, focussing on the ‘inside’ rather than the ‘outside’ and using an everyday material, that is to hand.
Deirdre is exploring this simple idea in depth, to see how much variation can be made from it whilst still being recognisable for what it is, with particular emphasis on form, texture, light and shade.
Having briefly explored this in the past, Deirdre Dyson has found another opportunity to rediscover ways in which to manipulate the material into interesting designs and forms for development.
A deviation from past collections, 2021 will focus on the ‘beauty of simplicity’ in a world that has now become rather more complicated.
All will be revealed next year but in the meantime these inspired new designs are soon to be woven by our skilled Nepalese craftspeople observing social distancing and we’re excited to unveil them at Maison in January next year.
Continuing our series catching up with industry friends, here Natalie and Juliette of Stephenson Wright interior design let us know how they’ve been managing their business during the Covid crisis, what’s kept them INspired during lockdown and how they are giving back in their local community.
Celebrated design duo Natalie and Juliette established their interior design practice Stephenson Wright in 2013. Last year saw the opening of their Surrey-based showroom The Post House, the perfect location to collaborate with partner brands, showcase their distinctive style and newly launched luxury eco-conscious furniture collection.
WHERE ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING FROM AND HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO YOUR NORMAL WORKING ENVIRONMENT
Natalie – Our Studio is based in my much loved garden so I have been incredibly lucky to have had little change in that respect. I also have access to our private showroom space five minutes away for inspiration and have been visiting it weekly to go ‘live’ on Instagram. We have started our FIVE series where we cover anything from ‘our favourite five ways to lay your dining table’ to ‘our five absolute musts when it comes to buying a sofa’. We have so enjoyed keeping the inspiration flowing, connecting with our followers, clients and designers and getting past being camera shy!
The buzz of the team has been replaced by quietness and plenty of LBC to keep up with all the government announcements.
Juliette – I have always had a desk set up at home as I am often working into the evening (madly thats my creative time!).
I miss the Studio environment so much and not having everything easily to hand but fortunately Natalie is there so we have all bases covered.
As a partnership we are quite ‘joined at the hip’ so we talk all the time; part of being in a successful partnership is the ability to bounce ideas off each other, to sit and challenge the design aspects of our projects.
This is always going to be best done in person but we are managing well and the materials aspect can be done by Natalie as she is still Studio based.
WITH OBVIOUS RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE, HOW DO YOU CONTINUE TO SOURCE YOUR INSPIRATION?
Although we do source far and wide, most of our inspiration comes from talking to one another and using our imaginations to pull on ideas that we know have worked successfully and building upon them to adapt them to the particular brief in hand.
Pinterest and other digital mediums, as well as online webinars (which are excitingly going on left right and centre!) have been hugely inspirational and enjoyable to take time and absorb from the comfort of our desks.
Having the time to finally read the design books on our coffee tables & also the Japanese wisdom books that we gifted at a recent industry dinner party we hosted. Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton & Ikagi by Hector Garcia– both are Japanologists who shares life lessons inspired by Japanese culture.
Beth has also written a book reflecting the current COVID 19 events called ‘We are in this together’ – Finding Hope and Opportunity in the depths of adversity’ which is available to download.
She is so inspiring to read and has really uplifted our spirits.
HAS THIS SITUATION MEANT YOU ARE USING OR ADOPTING TECHNOLOGIES MORE THAN BEFORE AND DO YOU THINK YOU WILL CARRY ON USING THEM IN THE SAME WAY WHEN ALL RESTRICTIONS ARE OVER?
Oh yes, the website has had a thorough overhaul, we have had more time to build our social media accounts and this week we have been working on our online video tutorials for budding interior designers or home owners looking to gain insight into ‘where to start’.
Prior to the lockdown we had just completed a ‘Design Discovery day’ at our Surrey showroom and had received such amazing feedback (an overview video of the day can be found on our website under events). Since then we have been building on the idea of sharing our love of interiors and our knowledge with some behind the scenes secrets.
We will also be giving tours of the showroom with all our tips on how to create a space that really works for you.
We had to adapt quickly – Zoom calls have been working successfully and may be something we are more inclined to do. What we have found though is there is really no substitute to sitting with a client and building a relaxed rapport plus being able to see paint colours and samples first hand.
We have also used Instagram Live to talk to fellow design industry friends and show a little more of our personalities and history which we have really enjoyed doing. This is certainly something we will continue.
NAME ONE THING YOU HAVE YOU LEARNT YOU CANNOT WORK WITHOUT AND ONE WORK RELATED THING THAT YOU HAVEN’T MISSED IN THE SLIGHTEST.
We both have a trusty Smythson A5 leather writing folder which we bought as our first Christmas present to each other on the first year we started our business in 2013.
They are still as smart now as they were when we bought them 7 years ago and we love the fact they are rather matchy matchy, a bit like our partnership!
We obsessively take them everywhere and it has become even more important than ever to be able to keep track of thoughts and ‘to-dos’ since we are away from our usual desk format where we can constantly remind each other of ‘have you done that yet’ across the table.
We have not missed travelling to meetings carrying multiple heavy sample boards with slabs of marble on the London underground!!
WHILST IN LOCKDOWN, IS THERE AN OBJECT THAT YOU HAVE RECONNECTED WITH OR HAVE APPRECIATED MORE FOR BEING AROUND YOU? (PLEASE SUPPLY A PICTURE OF THIS OBJECT IF POSSIBLE)
Juliette – My bike was gathering dust but its now my favourite thing to cycle along the river with my family.
I also have a piece of art exclaiming – ‘do what you love love what you do’ – it’s something I connect with every day and resonates with me.
We have more time to stop and ponder now rather than rushing all the time – the slower pace has been cathartic.
Natalie – My ceramic sculpted vase from Danish brand ‘Ferm Living’ has been rediscovered and is the perfect size for bringing indoors a small branch of Spring blossom from either my daily dog walk or my pretty pear tree.
We have also been rather inspired and getting quite green fingered at Stephenson Wright and have been creating and delivering 100 ‘Bags of Thanks’ full of vibrant Spring plants to the doors of local nominated NHS workers.
In the process of making this idea a reality we have also raised over £2,000 for the NHS.
Deirdre Dyson has always looked at the natural world for inspiration. How far can we actually go beyond the surface of nature for new ideas? As far as a cell?
But before we might even attempt to do that, we could start by rediscovering and understanding our relationship with our oldest, tiniest enemies.
With Covid-19 on the forefront of everyone’s minds and lips, it certainly has encouraged us all to think and live microscopically, as our working and private environments becoming more concentrated and restricted; life and freedom itself has had its boundaries substantially reduced.
The battle between viruses and cells goes back over 4 billion years of evolution. Cousins at heart, whilst enemies at play, the game of conquest continues. Not too far from science fiction, opportunistic viruses attack healthy cells with the sole aim to replicate and take control of the host.
For centuries the complexity of life and the universe has captivated the human imagination and study and created a science around the subject in order to understand it better and to create positive interventions in order to survive within it.
Looking at the bigger picture, the universe, our solar system, planetary forms and the patterns of galaxies far and beyond all replicate down to within microns of a single cell. It’s an amazing mirroring that follows through existence and in every living thing, whether animal or plant.
The human body is made up of 120 trillion cells all coexisting to create a unique life force-a living, breathing, thinking human.
Our immune system has developed over millions of years in the form of protective proteins cells. These white blood cells are the guardians of our bodies’ immune system all working in unison by instruction from our unique DNA, found at the core of each and every cell; within the Nucleus.
Every time our bodies come under attack from a virus, our defence system is kicked into gear by our cells, each one connected to the other and sending warning signals to pull up the appropriate antibody. Our personal record and library of virus attack is stored in the bone marrow and our bodies can recognise a virus through this library, knowing exactly which antibody to use in order to attack the virus.
Viruses are around us all the time, in the air, on every surface. They have co-evolved alongside cells and are made up of the remnant parts of our own cells, hence they are equipped to attack us in the most efficient and deceitful way.
Unfortunately, we do not have antibodies for every single virus, as we are only ever exposed to a fraction of viruses in existence. Hence, we rely on science and medical intervention when a new virus, particularly a Zoonotic virus transfers from animal to human.
The irony of it all is that this battle continues for one reason only; in order to shape us for our own survival as we continue to evolve and exist within this vast and complex mix of everything, that is both good, bad, near, far and within.
Can you spot the odd one out? One of these images is an actual Deirdre Dyson carpet design and isn’t a virus structure at all, perfectly illustrating how replication is in everything around us.
One lucky entry will be selected at random from all correct answers received and will be sent a “Walking on Art’” book by Deirdre Dyson (rrp £38), published by Thames and Hudson in order to keep you #INspired during lockdown.
All entries must be received by the 28th May, 2020 and the winner will be announced along with the correct answer on the 1st June, 2020.
Continuing our exploration of inspiration and what keeps us #INspired, Deirdre draws inspiration for her designs from myriad sources but one recurring area of fascination is water – be it BULRUSHES reflected in a lake or lapping water on the shore in SEAWASH.
We thought exploring some of these rug designs would be fascinating – the source of inspiration being fundamentally the same, the designs themselves could not be more different.
One of Deirdre’s more figurative designs and one that has captured people’s imagination and become a classic and was inspired by Deirdre’s painting of the same name.
This rug features the naturally abstracted forms of bulrushes, their bending shafts reflected and refracted in lake water.
Deirdre uses a graded wool/silk mix background to recreate the skyline and lake water which merge on the horizon to create this perfectly framed design. The finished rug is so captivating one client choose to hang it on a wall of their home.
BULRUSHES won both the International Wool Carpet & Rug Awards (Design Sector) 2017 and the International Design & Architecture Awards (Flooring, Carpet & Rugs) 2017.
The success of Deirdre’s SEAWASH rug design is all in the grade – which required Deirdre’s exceptional eye for colour to achieve this seamless ebb and flow effect.
Originally Deirdre designed the carpet in two versions, INDIGO (above) and BEIGE (below) which have become favourite designs amongst clients, we have created both large scale carpets and runners from this endlessly versatile design.
SEAWASH comes alive hand knotted in lustrous 100% silk (as in the versions above), providing the perfect watery, iridescent finish but has also been recreated several times using varying colourways in hand knotted and gun tufted 100% wool versions.
In NAUTICAL Deirdre again treats her source inspiration completely differently – abstracting sea water into fluid but solid geometric shapes, creating a feeling of depth and movement by alternating the same colours in wool and silk.
Clients can of course change these colours from the original water based palate but fundamentally this ‘breaking down’ of the sea to its most basic elements is the key to this design.
Whilst not strictly inspired by water itself, the first of Deirdre’s mosaic designs was inspired by mosaic lined Roman ponds, the intricacy of ROMAN POND poses a challenge to our weavers as the thin lines of wool ‘grouting’ around the ingots of silk are incredibly complex to achieve (and individually carve out) but the finished effect is stunning.
The everyday source inspiration for this rug only adds to its allure – RIVULETS mimics the trail of rain drops on a window pane – the simplest of inspiration led Deirdre to this wonderfully subtle graded design.
The lockdown is certainly something we are all getting used to and nothing is more important than abiding by the government guidelines to #stayhome and #staysafe. It’s the only way we stand any hope of reducing the spread of Covid 19, especially amongst the old and the vulnerable and to help the NHS cope when dealing with the number of serious infections.
But out of the bleakness, one should try not to see isolation as a negative prospect but to encourage oneself to reconnect and rediscover and continue creativity within the confinement of home.
As our working routines have changed, it can feel like we are living in perpetual weekend mode, days seem non descriptive or defined and we endlessly wonder from kitchen to desk, to sofa to bed in slumber daze, trying to make sense of it all.
But one could also use the time more effectively and create our own personal stimulus that keeps our minds actively creative and to some degree distracted in a more positive way, that will benefit general mental health and wellbeing.
Pick up that unopened book that has been sitting on the shelf for far too long, try that recipe you’ve been meaning to cook for ages, clear that wardrobe from unwanted items and block looks for when we can show off again or try re-arranging the furniture to make your space work better for you. You might then be inspired to redecorate, who know’s? There’s absolutely no limit to what we can do with the spare time at home. Only you can set the boundaries.
But it’s also about encouraging some reconnection to the things that surround us, that we have collected over time and that we quite often forget about. It’s about rediscovering what those personal things mean to us and why they bring us comfort and pleasure and finding meaning in the important things in life, such as family, friends, a sense of familiarity and fun. Yes fun! Please don’t forget about that. It will come back to welcome us sometime soon, we all hope.
Here a few items that our team at Deirdre Dyson have personally picked from their homes that inspires them in some way or brings them a sense of comfort. This reconnection to the inanimate world that we surround ourselves has many benefits. It reminds us of who we are, our history, our inspirations and can lead onto further creative pursuits beyond the items themselves.
Let us know what has #INspired you during lockdown by using this hashtag and tagging us on social media.
Company Manager Edison – Painting of Queen Elizabeth II
This was a charity find at my local Crusaid Boutique shop in Pimlico, where I live.
It was painted in 1977 to mark Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee and is a Cubist oil painting by Cal Howard (as I read it).
I’ve tried to search the artist to no avail, so any information would be greatly appreciated!
I love the subtle colours of creams and beige leading to deeper chocolate tones and Elizabeth changes throughout the day in different light. Some parts pop whilst others fade. The portrait reminds me of my late grandmother in many ways. The familiarity of a mature and dedicated strong minded woman. It is graceful. It is bold. It reminds me of the pleasure of art and creativity and reinforces the message that quality pieces never fade. Good design and art should survive the test of time. It is a large piece in a very tiny flat, breaking all the rules but hey, its all about pushing the boundaries.
Design Technician Nichola – The Lady with the Sunflower on her Head
This piece of ceramic– The Lady with the Sunflower on her Head –was a present from my family, so she is very special to me.
I love ceramics and find the process fascinating. I especially love the fact that every piece is unique. I normally like objects with a lot of vibrant colour but she is more subtle, thus having a very calming effect. I love the Sunflower’s position on her head and the detail on her face.She has a very pleasant face. I get so much pleasure from having her in my home and never tire of her.
I was given this beautiful piece of Labradorite rock crystal a few years ago. I am still always mesmerised by the colours it omits when the light hits it at the right angle on both sides.
It also happens to be the perfect size and shape to fit snugly and generously into the palm of my hand.
I have sometimes held it when I do my daily meditation and was intrigued to recently read some further information about this stone. Seems it holds helpful qualities for times like these!
“Labradorite, the best stone for fighting off an existential crisis. A rock star of mystical lore and ancient legends, the Labradorite crystal meaning can be traced back to the native peoples of icy Canada that believed the stone was created from frozen fire, a result of the northern lights. With its pearly hues that shimmer in a range of iridescent blues and greens, the Labradorite crystal reminds us to keep it magical by linking us to the spirit world, a dimension where anything is possible.”From energy use.com
Social Media and Marketing Manager Sonia – ‘Young Witches and their Cats’
This is an artists proof that my parents gave me for my 21st birthday. It’s called ‘Young Witches and their Cats’ by a well known Limerick artist, John Shinnors.
It’s sentimental for so many reasons – obviously it was a gift from my Mum and Dad, who visited Shinnors at his studio to select it, and I was born and brought up in County Limerick.It hung in the bedroom I shared with my sister growing up, has been here with me in London since my husband and I bought our first flat and now hangs over our fireplace at home.
Every once and a while my children ask ‘So how many witches and how many cats are there?’ and we can never agree on quite how many and what constitutes a witch or cat!
To say it’s well loved is an understatement, it hangs amidst a mish mash of my husband’s late fathers batiks and prints and bits and pieces of artwork that we’ve picked up (or stuck in a frame) over the years, each in their own way makes me happy but this is definitely the most special.