Homegirl London pays homage to Anna-Lisa Smith. From her studio situated in the heart of West Yorkshire Anna-Lisa makes luxury woven textiles. Her collection includes beautiful throws and cushions which are made within fifty miles of her home. Combining traditional weave techniques with striking patterns in gorgeous colours, these lambswool cushions and throws are timeless classics. If you’re a fan of pared back aesthetics and British brands, you must seek out these exquisite woven textiles for the home. The latest collection called Iro was inspired by Bauhaus and has been snapped up by Liberty. I caught up with Anna-Lisa Smith to find out more.
Meet Anna-Lisa Smith
Anna-Lisa studied textiles at Derby University where she specialized in weave. She elaborates – “I worked for many years in Paris and Italy before returning home to complete my degree and set up my own business in 2014. It took quite a while to start the business but I had two good role models. My parents were both self-employed, my father was a chef and owned a couple of restaurants and my mother also ran her own business and I’m sure this influenced me.”
Finding the right manufacturers for her designs was the defining moment. Anna-Lisa recalls – “It was quite difficult initially to find the manufacturers I needed as I hadn’t worked in this business before. Eventually I located a weaving mill in Lancashire which had the right type of loom for my work. Luckily, they really liked what I did and were behind me from the beginning so everything started to slot into place. With a loan from the Arts Council and the mill it was the beginning of my business.”
The business is based in a small town called Marsden which is in West Yorkshire. Anna-Lisa tells me – “It’s the perfect base for my business as I’m close to so many textile mills which the area is famous for. Part of the joy for me is having strong working relationships with my suppliers, to be able to meet them and to work closely together on projects and I can do that very easily here.”
At the moment it’s very much a one woman show, Anna-Lisa explains – “I do nearly everything which can be quite exhausting but also very rewarding with a sense of achievement. I do have a fantastic graphic designer and web developer which is great. It’s been a fantastic way for me to learn new skills, you have no choice when you start a small business like I’ve done. It’s forced me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to do things I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing. I hope that quite soon I’ll be able to hand over a few more jobs to others so I can focus on aspects of the business that I can do best.”
View the Anna-Lisa Smith Collection
Anna-Lisa talks me through her work – “I make contemporary woven textiles for the home which are throws (blankets) and cushions. My pieces are minimal in their style but I love colour and enjoy creating collections with unusual and harmonious colour ways. My products are woven in the highest quality merino wool using a specific kind of flexible Jacquard loom. Everything is designed, woven, washed, finished and sewn within fifty miles of my home in West Yorkshire. Overall I would say my design style is simple, contemporary, minimal, woven in the highest quality materials in beautiful colours.”
Since starting her business, Anna-Lisa has three collections; Modblock, Lula and Iro and will be presenting her fourth range, called Alex, at Design Junction in September this year (see the bed picture above). She tells me more about her current work – “Iro was my last collection, which was inspired by Bauhaus, in particular the work of Gunta Stozi. I mixed a simple, line based design with a collection of beautiful colour ways and the fabric was woven on a Jacquard loom which enables a striking contrast between the two sides of the fabric. This makes the throws simple but interesting and means that I have contrasting cushions in this collection. Colours include goldfish, citrus, ecru and mushroom along with a dark blue (sea holly blue) teal (tweed). Alex will be launched at Design Junction and this collection is a minimal design based on a series of lines and blocks. The colour ways range from monochrome black and white to fresh tones of mint and primrose yellow and beautiful dove grey. It’s contemporary but elegant with the throws and cushions woven in the softest merino wool.”
Iro Throws and Cushions
Anna-Lisa tells me about the people she admires – “I love Bauhaus textiles, Gees Bend quilts, Josef Albers but I also love artists such as Degas and Van Gogh and often draw colour inspiration from painters like these. I’m also massively influenced by contemporary designers, architects and painters. I love the work of Eleanor Pritchard and have admired her for years. She has such a distinct style, an amazing eye for colour and she understands her discipline so well, you can tell by her work how much she understands the weaving process. She’s also a lovely helpful person!”
Buy Anna-Lisa Smith Products
To find out more about Anna-Lisa and to buy here products go to the Anna-Lisa Smith Website. The throws measure 180cm x 130cm which are priced at £189. The cushions come in square or oblong options both priced £95. These have a pattern on the front while the reverse is a plain olive colour in hand-woven organic cotton. The inner pad is made from luxury duck feathers which can be accessed via the zip closure. Anna-Lisa will be exhibiting at this year’s Design Junction which is part of London Design Festival, visit stand 26a at the Canopy, Kings Cross (22-25 September 2016).
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs and thanks: Anna-Lisa.