Homegirl London pays homage to Alfred and Wilde. This business was founded in 2013 by Simon Mitchell; a London based designer making bold and modern home accessories. His wares include wall art prints, contemporary greetings cards, notebooks, mugs and tea towels. He’s inspired by the city of London and iconic buildings like Battersea Power Station, Hackney Empire and Keeling House. His trademark style is somewhat playful with a focus on pattern, shape and colour. Aside from his London-centric collection, Simon has also produced an exquisite range of fine bone china mugs decorated with 9 carat gold. I caught up with Simon to find out more about Alfred and Wilde.
Meet the Alfred and Wilde Designer
Simon tells me about life before his Alfred and Wilde – “I quit my Natural Sciences degree at the University of Cambridge to study art. I moved back home to take my Foundation course before doing a BA in Fine Art at Middlesex. I went from the chemistry laboratory to the print studio and loved it!”
He started working on the business idea in January 2013 – “When I was at home for Christmas and New Year the thought of going back to the office after a long break filled me with dread. This was just the prompt I needed to start planning my own business. I craved a professional outlet for my creative side since I left art school. I now work part time for a medical research charity, where I’ve been for nearly four years now. I’m in the marketing department so I get to flex my creative muscles but Alfred and Wilde is my number one priority. After all, the sense of achievement when someone buys a product that I’ve designed is immense – surely it’s got to be the ultimate validation that all artists secretly seek!”
Battersea Power Station Print
The workshop is situated at Simon’s home in East London – “I live in Hackney and love being surrounded by creative people. I can just wander down the road to the print studio I use and there are so many wonderful design shops to pass on the way.”
He designs all the products himself and then taps into the creative pool to make them – “I use a fantastic screen print studio on Hackney Road where Lucy and Mark make magical things happen with a squeegee and some ink.” If you’re wondering about the business name, Simon explains – “It’s a reference to Oscar Wilde and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas!”
Alfred and Wilde Collection
Simon talks me through his design style – “It’s modern, typographic and geometric. I use contrasting bright colours with monochrome and metallic. Ultimately, I want to produce products that people want to have in their home.”
London Red Print
Much of Simon’s inspiration is drawn from East London – “There are hundreds of art galleries in the area, people from all over the world live and work here. Hackney Wick is home to the largest community of artists in Europe.”
Hackney Empire Tea Towel
Architecture is a key component of his designs – “I’ve tried to pay homage to London without resorting to a picture of Big Ben! But as much as I love this city, the range is soon to expand beyond the M25, so watch this space. I have limited edition screen prints, greetings cards and tea towels inspired by London and its architecture. My Heart Hackney print is really popular, as is the Power Station print featuring Battersea Power Station.”
Heart Hackney Print
Aside from architecture, natural science features in his work – “The geometric designs on my new range of fine bone china mugs are based on the platonic solids. This is a nod to my scientific background (I still read New Scientist weekly). The platonic solids are five three-dimensional shapes with special mathematical properties that fascinated the Ancient Greeks. Their beauty and symmetry led them to be linked to the construction of the universe. For people like Plato, they symbolised earth, air, fire, water and a mysterious fifth element.”
9 Carat Gold Decorated Fine Bone China Mugs
Simon also makes a selection of contemporary greetings cards and notebooks featuring gold and silver hearts or stars.
Hearts and Stars Notebooks
Where possible, the products are made by independent artists and manufacturers in the UK. Everything is top quality – “I pay particular attention to the materials used for the finished article. My greetings cards and notebooks are made from recycled card and metallic foiling. The limited edition prints are on fine art paper. The tea towels are 100% cotton. I have pushed the boat out for the mugs which are fine bone china and decorated in 9 carat gold. They have been fired at 400 degrees which means they are really strong and dishwasher safe.”
Buy Alfred and Wilde Products
To find out more about Simon’s work visit his website at Alfred and Wilde. To give you an idea about prices – Limited Edition Screen Prints are £35, Fine Bone China Mugs £15 and Tea Towels £9.
Author: Homegirl London. Photography: Alfred and Wilde. Thanks: Simon Mitchell.