Profiles: Clementine & Bloom

Clementine & BloomHomegirl London pays homage to Clementine & Bloom.  This business is the collaboration between mother and daughter – Sandra and Sophie Penford.  They set up their company in May 2012 hand making luxury lampshades, cushions and tea towels.  Their designs are inspired by bugs, beetles, butterflies and the geometric repetition of nature.  They print their own designs on to high quality natural fabrics which are bold and beautiful.  I caught up with the duo to find out more …

Q: Why call the company Clementine & Bloom?

A: The Clementine part of our name comes from the title of a favourite print of two women that I bought a few years ago.  We knew we wanted to be a ‘Clementine & … so whilst we were discussing a name Sophie found herself wandering along Bloom Street in Manchester and the two just clicked!

Q: Tell me about your design backgrounds.

A: Sophie studied Embroidery at Manchester School of Art.  She has worked for Alexander McQueen in London and at Paris Fashion week on the Plato Atlantis show (Spring / Summer ’10).  She lived in New York and worked as a prop / set design assistant on campaigns for Teen Vogue and Anthropologie.  I studied Printed Textiles at the University for the Creative Arts in Kent alongside running our other family business with my husband.

Q: Why set up your business?

A: We had always discussed setting up a business together in the future but when Sophie graduated and found it increasingly hard to find a job (that wasn’t an internship) within the creative industry we decided to bite the bullet and start up sooner.

Q: Where are you based and why?

A: Our main base is in Kent which is where all the printing and a lot of the construction takes place. As Sophie lives in central London we often work between the two locations

Q: How many people work at your company?

A: Currently it’s just the two of us.

Q: Describe your design style.

A: Our work is bold, colourful and eclectic.  We love texture and print and working with good quality natural materials.

Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

A: Everywhere!  From architecture to nature and everything in between.

Q: What’s your fascination with shapes and colours?

A: One of the signature themes of our designs are the shapes formed by objects like the ovals and diamond shapes made by the beetles in the Dancing Beetle pattern.  I’ve always been fascinated by ‘accidental’ patterns and have always photographed and sketched marks formed by nature.

We are also fascinated with colour and we’re not just talking about a splash here and there with an accent cushion or lampshade, we mean colour everywhere.  We have always felt that there is just too much plain white and at Clementine & Bloom our aim is to inject something bold in to an interior.  For us (and we feel our customers would agree), it’s not about playing safe, the colours we use in our patterns create and add personality in any setting.

Q: Tell me about your collections.

A: Our latest collection ‘Entomology’ is inspired by the archiving of beetles, bugs and butterflies.  For us there is something beautiful about the organic repetition seen in insect display cases, plus nature always provides the best colours!  With each collection we start with our own hand drawn images and create our signature geometric designs.

  Clementine & Bloom Lamp Shades

Clementine & Bloom Lamp Shade Collection

Clementine & Bloom Cushions

Clementine & Bloom Cushion Collection

Q: Tell me about your bespoke service.

A: As we design and make everything ourselves we can produce certain parts of our collection to a customer’s specifications – colour, size, etc.  We actually really enjoy this aspect of the work as it’s always fun to try different colour ways and requirements.

Q: Which designer do you admire and why?

A: It would have to be Lucienne Day, a successful woman creating contemporary designs with colour and vision.

Q: What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

A: Having the control to take a risk with the design, being able to create what you love rather than having to follow a trend.

Q: What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone wanting to set up their own business?

A: Don’t underestimate the time you will need away from the design desk; paperwork and emailing take up a huge amount of your time.

Q: What’s coming up for the rest of 2013?

A: In June we’re taking part in a pop-up shop in Kingston and the Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey, Devon.  We are in the process of producing our first wallpaper which is really exciting so watch this space.

To give you an idea on prices; cushions range from £45-£100, lampshades from £35-£120 and tea towels are £10.  For further information check out www.clementineandbloom.com.  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Clementine & Bloom, special thanks to Sandra and Sophie Penford.