dana finnigan interior surface pattern queen

Dana Finnigan Interior Surface Pattern Queen

Homegirl London pays homage to Dana Finnigan. This surface pattern obsessed lady gives lavatories some love with her hand applied digitally printed transfers. She’s on a mission to inject some personality into our boring bathroom suites decorating toilets, urinals, pedestal basins and tiles with blurred and distorted shapes in unusual colour combinations. Her punchy patterns also adorn wallpaper, velvet and cotton cushions, cups and saucers, plates and teapots. Dana describes her style as ‘Masculine Collage’ which is influenced by art nouveau and art deco but with a fabulous futuristic edge. With subject matter ranging from Japanese wood block prints, crystals and birds, her collections are varied but united with her unique style. That’s all in her spare time because she also works for Timorous Beasties. I caught up with super busy Dana Finnigan to find out more.

dana finnigan cushions, tiles, plate

Cushion, Tiles and Plate

Meet Dana Finnigan

Dana tells me about her background – “I’m originally from New Zealand, where I studied my undergraduate degree in Textile Design. I moved to Scotland in 2007 to study a Masters degree in Textiles at Glasgow School of Art. After that, I began an internship at Timorous Beasties and have never left. I was fortunate to be offered a job at the Timorous Beasties design studio whilst I was interning there. I have learned so much from them and feel so lucky that I was in the right place at the right time and that they liked me enough to give me a job. They are incredibly supportive of me and my own work. They are wonderful bosses to encourage my own design business as many companies wouldn’t feel the same way they do in regards to supporting new designers and makers.”

dana finnigan

Dana, the Toilet Attendant!

The decorating toilets with patterns idea came about by chance. Dana elaborates – “I had been working for Timorous Beasties for a few years and I started to think of what kind of business I would like myself to have one day. I had been dabbling in printed ceramics and I was watching a BBC documentary about Victorian homes where they went to a museum in Stoke-on-Trent that had all of these amazing printed toilets. I just thought to myself how beautiful they were and wondered why no one printed toilets anymore and then it hit me – I could print toilets! It just seemed to me that bathrooms are an area of the home where print is missing and surely someone out there would like a printed loo.”

dana finnigan crystal winter toilet

Crystal Winter Toilet

It was a couple of years later in April 2013 that Dana decided to give her printed loos a go. She says – “I printed a toilet and basin and took them to the London Design Festival that September exhibiting with Designersblock and the response was wonderful. By that I mean everyone at least had a good laugh. There’s nothing better than creating something that makes people smile. Since then I have exhibited at Tent London, this September I took the urinals which were certainly talked about!”

dana finnigan fuki urinal with okumi tiles

Fuki Green and Lilac Urinal with Okumi Large Tiles

Dana explains how she got her initiative off the ground – “I was self-funded for the first year but last year I participated in a start-up business program called Starter for 6 run through the Scottish Cultural Enterprise office. I was fortunate to be awarded some money through the program to work on some important elements of starting a small business; graphic design, photography and a 3D modelling course. I also took out a very small business loan through Transmit Start-Ups to my cover basics like marketing materials and a base stock level.”

dana finnigan cups and saucers

Selection of Plates and Cups

As for naming the business after herself, Dana reveals – “I used to hate my name when I was a kid with many Dana-Banana or Michael Finnigan jokes and then as I grew up I realised it was a bit different from most names and that it probably had a lot to do with the person I had become so I felt it was fitting to give my name to my business. I kind of like the fact that my name is as different as the products I produce. For me it seems to somehow fit.”

dana finnigan cushions

Selection of Cushions

Glasgow is the base for the business, Dana explains – “After my Masters I never managed to leave here. Besides, this city has inspiration in the air and is packed with artists and designers. So although it is only me running the business single handed I get support from the artistic community. My husband is also on hand to lift heavy objects, drive the van and keep me motivated. Overall owing a business is fantastic because I have total creative control. I get to decide my inspiration, my colours and when a design is finished. That makes me happy.”

View the Dana Finnigan Collection

Dana tells me about her design style – “My work is all about abstracted and geometric collage. I like to think of it as ‘Masculine Collage’ which isn’t a girly surface pattern but has unisex appeal. I’m a big fan of colour and texture too. I think life is a bit brighter with a bit of colour in the home or in my case, absolutely on every surface of the home. I apply my prints to wallpaper, cushions, tableware, toilet, urinals and toilet brush holders.” Digital printing is the main element of Dana’s work. She hand applies transfers to the bathroom pieces, she explains – “These are like the fake tattoos which you place in water and apply the film to the ceramic. I then fire them in a really big kiln and it melts into the glaze.”

dana finnigan, duck toilet brush holders

Duck Toilet Brush Holders

Dana talks me through some of her favourite collections starting with Japonisme: “This is inspired by elements of Japanese Wood Block prints. I am drawn to the organic shapes and juxtaposition of patterns that are at the heart of what makes these prints so alluring. I have taken out the five key aspects of the prints that I deem the most inspirational and created a series of patterns; Fuki is the hem guard of the Kimono that appears layered upon layered in different patterns in the wood block prints. Okumi is like the folds of origami paper that peek out from under one another to create the front inside panel of the Kimono. Sensu is the delicate and elegant fans that obscure, like a fascinator, the faces of beautiful women. Wagasa is a multi-coloured sea of umbrellas that shelter one from the elements and mushroom from the tops of lean, organically stylised figures in Kimono. Yama is a homage to the most splendid series in Japanese Wood Block, Hokusai’s ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’ bringing together all the Munroes and Ranges of Japan to create the print.”

dana finnigan, fuki wallpaper

Fuki Wallpaper

Crystal Winter: “This collection was conceived while reading a book about crystals and geodes. These fascinating structures created by nature provide some of the most amazing patterns and geometric shapes that one cannot help be inspired by their beauty. These amazing naturally created triangles, modules and diamonds are similar to the patterns and shapes made by ice in the coldest winters of Glasgow Scotland. For instance, similar patterns are created by frozen over puddles that crack when tapped by your foot. Putting together the neon and vivid colour combinations created naturally in both the crystals and the ice, I created a range of surface patterns. These include; Crystal Winter, Humble Diamond, Monoclinic, Mosaica, Mountain View and Windmill.”

dana finnigan, crystal winter ceramic tableware

Crystal Winter Ceramic Tableware

Birds of a Feather: “This was inspired by my personal experience of discovering ‘Old World’ birds that were new to me coming from New Zealand. Birds have a special importance to me personally as New Zealand holds birds in high regard due to the range of flightless birds found in the country. Though I would never call myself a ‘twitcher’ I have found myself often glued to windows with a childlike fascination with birds I have spotted in the United Kingdom. To immortalise my favourites I designed a range of patterns including; Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Sparrow, Passerine and Woodpecker.”

dana finnigan, goldfinch wallpaper

Birds of a Feather Goldfinch Wallpaper

In terms of inspiration, Dana tells me – “I am a big fan Wiener Werkstätte, the production company of visual artists in Vienna which was established in 1903. I really love their take on Art Nouveau and Art Deco, that they were inspired by Japanese design and how the boundaries of femininity and masculinity was shown in their work. It might be an obvious thing to say but I really do admire Timorous Beasties and by that I mean Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons who set up their design studio in 1990. They don’t follow trends, they set them, and that has always been the way the business has been run. They wanted to do their own thing regardless of the fact they set up their design studio at the height of the ‘chuck out your chintz’ era. They wanted to do something different and I think that’s exactly how an emerging designer should think when starting out in this business.”

Buy the Dana Finnigan Products

You can buy these products from the website www.danafinnigan.com, items can be shipped overseas and UK mainline deliveries are free. To give you an idea about price points starting prices for fully printed bathroom products are; Toilets £1296, Urinals £768 and Pedestal Basins £1344. 10x10cm Tiles £10 each and 20x30cm tiles £48 each. Duck Toilet Brush Holders £129. Wallpaper £190-£250. 18” Cotton Cushions £73 and 24” Velvet Cushions £106. Prices for ceramics are Cups and Saucers £36, Plates £82 and Teapots £87.

If you are interested in a printed bathroom suite Dana can create a 3D model of an interior to show how the patterns will look when installed or adapt your own model. She can also liaise with manufacturing companies of bathroom products to bring the project to fruition. This service is charged at an hourly rate that will be taken off the cost of the final project price. Dana can also customise colours and patterns for her products. This service requires a £75 fee to produce a sample for customer approval.

Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Courtesy of Dana. Thanks: Dana for your time.