Homegirl London pays homage to Hokolo.  Jen Taylor is the creative director behind this bold and colourful brand.  Hokolo products feature contemporary graphic prints and patterns with a quirky twist.  Jen often draws from British themes; take her latest collection of English breakfast foods which feature tomatoes, eggs, blueberries and oranges.  Her punchy patterns adorn everything from placemats, coasters, tea towels, blankets, cushions, art prints, greeting cards, knitted scarves to some cute baby gifts.  Jen uses the best quality materials like lambswool for her blankets and manufacturers in the UK.  I caught up with Jen to find out more.

English Breakfast Tea Towels

English Breakfast Tea Towels

Meet the Hokolo Designer

Jen studied architecture at the University of Sheffield and then East London.  She went onto worked as an architect for 12 years designing housing, offices and hotels.  The business idea came about when Jen was looking for a change, wanting be creative, hands-on and spend more time with her son.  She tells me – “Architecture is great but it takes a very long time to see the end results and I was spending more time project managing than designing.”

Hokolo Owner Jen Taylor

Jen Taylor

It was a love of Scandinavian graphic designs which started her business ball rolling – “I was messing around on the iPad and came up with a pattern and thought it would cool to print it onto fabric which I did.  I made some T-shirts for my son with the pattern and he loved them.  So I decided to take the plunge, resigned from my job and took a screen printing course.  The business started in June 2012 when I made my first collection of children T-shirts.”

English breakfast prints and cushion

English Breakfast Prints and Cushion

Now the business is established, Jen designs the patterns and then works closely with a team of makers to turn the concepts into products. Jen tells me – “This is the process I enjoy the most as I learn so much from the team of screen printers, textile designers and knitwear designers.  Because I manufacture in the UK I get to work very closely with these people who really know their craft in great detail.  This allows me to experiment with the products to achieve the best results.  This collaborative approach is similar to being an architect working as part of the construction team. “

English breakfast prints and blanket

English Breakfast Prints and Blanket

As for the quirky sounding name ‘Hokolo’ – it’s an amalgamation of Hong Kong and London.  Jen tells me – “These two words really do sum me up.  I was brought up in Hong Kong and came to study in the UK at the age of 15 and have been living in London since 1997.”  Based in South London, Jen is very much inspired by the city – “London is my inspiration, there are endless amount of things to do and see in the capital.”

View the Hokolo Collection

Jen describes her style – “Colourful bold graphic patterns generated from simple shapes of day to day objects.  I often start off with the smallest component and build it up into a more complex pattern.  When you view the patterns from a distance they’re very graphic.  When you look in more detail you start to see the story.”

English Breakfast Cushions

English Breakfast Cushions

Architecture is a big influence in her designs – “As an architect I was much influenced by modernism.  The great modernist architects were often great product designers who put emphasis on materials and process such as Aalto, Mies, Scarpa, Wright, Eames and Jacobsen.  But for the love of colours and patterns it’s got to be Marimekko.”

English Breakfast Coasters and Placemats

English Breakfast Placemats and Coasters

The first collection, back in 2012, was called Crown Jewel featuring the crown and Sovereign orb.  The next range was all about Christmas – reindeers, Brussels sprouts, chestnuts and cranberries.

The latest collection is called English breakfast.  This is about Jen’s love for food – cooking it, eating it and sharing it.  Jen tells me – “Food is my life and I love cooking as much as eating.  Even at a young age I was experimenting in the kitchen because I was desperate to recreate a certain dish I’d tasted in a restaurant.  Cooking is creative, hands on and a visual stimulus as much as taste and I love to be able to share with my friends and family.”  She’s featured eggs, tomatoes, blueberries and oranges in bright colours and bold designs with a mid-century modern flavour.  Jen tells me – “The English breakfast collection was inspired by the breakfast fry ups, the nostalgia of the greasy spoon cafes with the laminate tables, gingham curtains and plastic tomato shaped ketchup bottles.”

English Breakfast Art Prints

English Breakfast Art Prints

Buy the Hokolo Products

To find out more about this brand visit the website at Hokolo. Price guide: Lambswool Blanket £150, Cushions £45, Melamine Placemat and Coaster £15, Tea Towels £12, Art Prints £18, Greeting Cards £2.50, Knitted Scarves £42, Baby Gift Sets from £34, Baby Rattle £12.

If you want to view these products just head over to one of the Southbank Centre shops – Festival Terrace, inside the Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery.  The Southbank Centre is the UKs largest arts centre which is on the South Bank of the river Thames.  These shops stock some pretty cool gifts from cutting-edge artists and designers.

Author: Homegirl London.  Photographs: Hokolo.  Thanks: Jen Taylor and David Gorrod.

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