Homegirl London pays homage to Cream Cornwall. This business celebrates Cornwall in its entirety – the myths, legends, history, culture and traditions. They capture the essence of this idyllic peninsula and the surrounding countryside with bold imagery of crabs, lobsters, ships, knots and more recently pheasants, grouse and hares. Their designs are traditional and somewhat eccentric but with a modern twist which is loved by locals and way beyond. You’ll find everything from home accessories – cushions and throws, lamp shades and scented candles to tableware along with cooking aprons, tea towels, contemporary greeting cards and so much more. I caught up with the owners to find out more about Cream Cornwall.
Meet the Cream Cornwall Designers
This business is owned by Rebecca Heane (born in Cornwall) and Allison Hughes (born in Manchester). The two met in a village called Flushing in Cornwall when Allison was helping out at a kitchen and bathroom company coordinating their marketing materials and Rebecca was an interior designer. Rebecca was using the showroom space to advertise her services and so the two soon got chatting and Rebecca invited Allison to view a house she had recently designed. After realising they shared the same style, it wasn’t long before they were talking about setting up a business together. They started working on their Cornish creations in the summer of 2012 and launched their retail website in September 2013.
Cream Cornwall Owners Rebecca Heane and Allison Hughes
Rebecca tells me about her background – “I didn’t formally study and have worked mainly for myself. I had a fashion boutique for a few years and got into printing and dying textiles. Then I set up a print studio in Australia where I specialised in Devore on silk velvet and supplied designers, shops and galleries. I was asked to do more interiors work and when I returned to Cornwall I pursued this until we began the business.
Allison talks me through her life before the joint business venture – “I studied textiles at Liverpool Poly and went straight into a design job at East Central Studios, a small textile design studio with a wide range clients from John Smedley to Dupont. We generally worked two years ahead of the season on colour and trend and I’m still involved in this area as the desk editor of the PantoneView website, a colour resource for all areas of product design.”
The idea for starting up the business really came from Rebecca living in Australia, she explains – “Being away from Cornwall for so many years made me really think about what was so special about it and I wanted to “brand” it. No one was doing a lifestyle brand which encapsulated the colours, culture and history and when I met Allison and discovered she had the same vision, it was perfect timing.” As for the fantastic brand name, Cream Cornwall, Rebecca explains how that came about –“When we decided to work together we needed a name and Allison emailed me a list of all sorts of Cornish place names and words associated with Cornwall. One immediately jumped off the page and that was Cream. It has many connotations for us, Clotted Cream, the colour, a trendy nightclub, the band and of course being the cream of the crop. The quality of our products is very important to us and we like to think that what leaves our studio stands out because of this.”
They are lucky enough to be located in an idyllic location – “We both live in a picturesque village of Flushing which sits on the water across the harbour from Falmouth. It has a colourful history as was home to many of the Packet Ship owners in the 17th and 18th century and we worked from Allison’s house until it was overrun with boxes and we had to find a studio. Now we have a design studio and workshop in Falmouth town and often catch the ferry to work.” There are just three of them working in the studio plus a team of people who make the products.
Cream Cornwall Collection
It all started with the Cornish Willow pattern and the Cornish Toile, Rebecca tells me – “These were our very first designs and are the closest to our hearts. I’d always wanted to do a Cornish version of the classic willow pattern as my grandmother gave me a panel she’d embroidered and it is one of my favourite things. We replaced the Chinese imagery with iconic Cornish ones – Trelissick house and an engine house instead of Pagodas, tree ferns, camellias, a Packet ship and seagulls instead of swallows and so on. I’d wanted to do a Cornish Toile de Jouy for years. I found an old notebook from 2007 where I had written a list of everything I wanted in it. We have the design as a repeat and next year we hope to have fabric to sell by the metre. We use the harbour and garden scenes from it on lampshades, candle votives, beakers, notebooks and cards and it’s selling well all over the country.”
Cornish Willow Pattern Plate
The two main collections now are ‘Maritime’ and ‘Game and Garden’ which are very much inspired by Cornwall. Their designs are slightly eccentric with that quintessentially British quirkiness about them. This isn’t a great surprise when you discover that they admire the likes of Alexander McQueen, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, English Eccentrics, Mulberry and Burberry.
Game and Garden Lamp Shades and Cushions
Let’s start with the Maritime Collection, this features hand-drawn illustrations of classic images; mackerel, crustaceans, packet ships and knots which have been given a contemporary twist. They tell me – “We’re completely immersed in myth, legend, history, cultures and the traditions of Cornwall. We see inspiration everywhere and every day. For example, we catch the ferry to work and enjoy watching the fishing boats unloading their catch of crabs and lobsters. This is part of our daily life and imagery that other people can relate to. We don’t design things that aren’t part of our history and culture, they all have a meaning.”
The Game and Garden collection is new and is their take on the eccentric Cornish country estate. They explain – “We try and have days away from the studio and explore a different part of Cornwall each time, which always leads to new ideas. Driving around the lanes we see lots of pheasants running around and there are pheasant and grouse shoots at the local estates. Our inspiration comes from an estate called Enys which has been on the male side of the family since the 1600s. The house is slowly being renovated but it’s like an enchanted garden where you can observe plenty of animals, birds and fish.”
Game and Garden Contemporary Greeting Cards
They talk me through their Game and Garden designs – “We’ve produced six hand-drawn vignettes featuring graphic imagery throughout the seasons. The focus is on the heads rather than the whole body which gives these designs a whimsical feel. You’ll find everything from pheasants with holly and mistletoe, a mandarin duck with water lilies and dragonflies, a grouse with hydrangeas, hares with blackberries and oak leaves, stags with fir cones and hellebores and salmon with bull rushes.”
Buy Cream Cornwall Products
All the Cream Cornwall products are manufactured in Britain with the lampshades, candles and diffusers made in their studio. You can buy these items from their website Cream Cornwall. To give you an idea about prices – lamp shades £44-108, cushions £53, plate and jugs £17-23, mugs and tea towels £10, stationery notebooks £7 for 3 and contemporary greeting cards £2. They can also ship these products overseas. If you have a bespoke request, they are open to working with businesses to produce something original.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Cream Cornwall. Thanks: Rebecca Heane and Allison Hughes.