Profiles: Parris Wakefield Additions

Sarah Parris and Howard WakefieldHomegirl London pays homage to Parris Wakefield Additions.  A colourful company owned by husband and wife team Sarah Parris and Howard Wakefield.  After meeting through a mutual friend they worked as graphic designers for super cool fashion houses and bands.

Their business collaboration developed when people couldn’t get enough of their crazy coloured free desktop wallpapers – they wanted more so Sarah and Howard started experimenting and transferred their digitally mastered kaleidoscopes on to wallpaper, cushions, lampshades and fabrics.  Their company launched back in September 2012 and has really taken off.  I caught up with the duo to find out more …

Q: Tell me about your design backgrounds.

A: Our background is in graphic design, we have our own studio.  Previously, we were directors of Saville Associates Ltd working alongside legendary graphic designer Peter Saville.  We have worked with some amazing clients; Christian Dior, Givenchy, Adobe, Pringle of Scotland, New Order, Suede and Pulp.  Today, we continue to work with New Order designing their latest album sleeves and tour material.  We have also done a lot of work with Kvadrat, the Danish soft furnishing company – for whom we designed the marketing material for Tord Boontje as well as the product launch of ‘Clouds,’ the award winning architectural fabric tile by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

Marthe Wallpaper

Marthe Wallpaper

Q: Why set up your business?

A: The patterns were initially a personal creative outlet for us and we would release them as free desktop wallpapers – which became very popular and we were asked on numerous occasions to do something more with the images so we tested them on fabrics and could instantly see the potential.

Field Wallpaper

Field Wallpaper

Q: Where are you based and why?

A: We’re based in Suffolk in a converted barn.  We moved from London to give us more space and it’s also a great place for the children to grow up.

Q: How many people work at your company?

A: Additions is just the 2 of us with initial help from Esme Lynch of My Special PA.

Garden Wallpaper

Garden Wallpaper

Q: Describe your design style.

A: Flamboyant, colourful and fun – we like our designs to make people smile.  We are unashamedly digital; we create the designs digitally and print them digitally, which is quite different from many designers. There are no preliminary hand drawn sketches and we start directly on the computer and the patterns evolve and grow through experimentation over numerous layers which can interact in so many ways – we hope this makes our work stand out.  The digital process also allows us to use many colours and experiment with fun stuff like fades, transparencies and painterly effects.

 Bliss Wallpaper

Bliss Wallpaper

Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

A: We are inspired by the colour palettes used in nature, art and fashion, however most of the colour inspirations for our current designs have come from artists; Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Prendergast and John William Waterhouse.

Parris Wakefield Cushions

Cushions

Q: What’s your fascination colour?

A: Our fascination with colour has been evident in our graphic design work for a long time and I think it is only natural that our interior products would be bold and colourful too.  I can’t put our use of colour down to any particular experience but we enjoy the surprise colour can give, seeing how people react to colour is really lovely. Working with colour is simply very fun.

Q: Tell me about your collections.

A: All our fabrics our digitally printed in Britain and our cushions and lampshades are also handmade in Britain.  The collections include; Marthe, Garden, Field, Destiny and Bliss.

Marthe: the warm colour palette from the oil painting ‘Nude in Backlighting’ by Pierre Bonnard inspired our choice of colours for Marthe, named after the model in the painting.

 Marthe Lampshade

Marthe Lampshade

Garden: this design is the perfect way to add a splash of colour to a room.  We wanted to create a design that was a sophisticated riot of colour and the result was as rich in colour as a garden.

 Garden Lampshade

Garden Lampshade

Field: bringing the outside in, this design is inspired by Maurice Prendergast’s ‘Salem Cove’ with its colourful patches of paint outlined in darker shades.  This design feels so fresh with its exquisite greens and flashes of vivid orange.

 Field Cushions

Field Cushions

Destiny: inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite painting ’Destiny’ by John William Waterhouse.  The stunning hues of red and pink of the girl’s dress really caught our attention and has created a wonderful warm and sophisticated design.

 Destiny Cushions

Destiny Cushions

Bliss: inspired by Pantone’s exotic colour range Tangerine Tango, Margarita, Cockatoo and Starfish – an uplifting combination even in the dullest days.

 Bliss Cushion

Bliss Cushion

Q: Tell me about your bespoke service.

A: If customers would like our cushions or lampshades in a particular size then we can custom make them.  Different colours or even specially commissioned patterns can be produced for larger projects.

Q: Which designer / artist do you admire and why?

A: Gerhart Richter is an enormous influence, from this abstract squeegee painting to his colourful grid painting.

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

A: The flexibility to balance home-life with work and the freedom – If we have an idea we want to try out then we can.  We don’t need to convince anyone or ask permission.

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

A: Plan as much as you can, then cross your fingers – there is always a risk in business.  If you believe it is worth it then take it.

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

A: We will be exhibiting again at TENT 19-22 September stand J22 where we will launch our new design called Zig Zag and showing our upholstery fabrics for the first time.  At Tent we are collaborating with Out of The Dark – www.outofthedark.org.uk which is a charitable social enterprise that recycles, restores and revamps salvaged furniture as a means to train, educate and employ young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Out of the Dark will be reupholstering some fabulous chairs in our fabrics and restoring and painting other furniture to coordinate with our range.  All the furniture on our stand will be salvaged and restored by Out of The Dark and available for sale with all proceeds going directly to Out of the Dark.

In terms of prices – Cushions start from £59.50, Lampshades from £89, Wallpaper is £100 a roll and Fabric is from £45 a metre.  You can buy from www.parriswakefieldadditions.com.  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Parris Wakefield Additions, special thanks to Sarah Parris and Howard Wakefield.