Homegirl London pays homage to KMJC Designs (usually written like this K//M//J//C Designs). This business is run by Katie Charleson who is known for her textural collage style where she combines layers of colours and textures together. Her designs are hand screen printed or painted onto plenty of luxury cushions plus additional home accessories including wall hangings, tea towels, lavender pouches and blank greeting cards. Her Debut Collection was an abstract bright and beautiful burst of wonderful sweeping water colours and free form mark-making with oil pastels. The new range is called Palmhouse which celebrates the botanical plants and breath-taking structure of the iconic Victorian Palm House at Kew Gardens. If you love palm leaf cushions you’re in for a real treat! I caught up with Katie to find out more about KMJC Designs.
Meet the KMJC Designs Owner
Katie Charleson is the owner of this business. She tells me about her background – “I received a BA (Hons) in Textile Design from Glasgow School of Art in 2011, specialising in Print. I always saw myself doing fashion and so straight after art school I jetted off to New York to do a Print Internship at Diane von Furstenburg, which was an incredible opportunity and a lot of fun. When the placement was up I came back to rural Scotland and worked as a Freelance Print Designer for a while as Katie Charleson Designs.”
Katie’s next move was to London, she elaborates – “Having spent a year in London working with excellent new fashion labels, the logical step seemed to be to start up on my own. I have always dreamt of owning my own brand and I felt I could go to exciting places with homewares. I received help from the Princes Trust, they provided me with a loan and also support in the form of a Business Mentor which was absolutely invaluable! I officially launched my business in November 2014. I decided to call the company after the initials of my full name which is Katharine Matilda Jane Charleson. I was named after my grandmothers so it seemed apt to pay homage to these two wonderfully creative, strong women. Although my business concentrates on homeware I still work as a freelance print designer for fashion clients, including new labels BoBo Bacchus and Monks on Vacation.”
Arecacaea Tea Towel
Katie runs the company single handed, she says – “I do everything from screen printing to sewing and all the admin, there are a lot of roles to fill. Coming from a creative background there was plenty for me to learn in terms of promotion and marketing, but if I get frustrated I go and do some printing and that always makes everything better. Although it is hard work it does mean that I get the creative freedom of having an aesthetic vision and making it happen.”
Black Pepper Cushion and Arecacaea Tea Towel
Luckily though, help is always close to hand – “I have a great support network of friends and family that don’t mind occasionally being called upon. I share my work space in London, at the Elephant and Castle, with other people which provides a great network. These are fantastic print makers, artists and designers so it’s a very inspirational place to work. It is also great having such easy access to print facilities which means I can experiment and sample quickly and efficiently.”
View the KMJC Designs Collections
Katie tells me about her design style – “You could say my style is textural. I enjoy the composition and juxtaposition of colours, textures and techniques, so it is collage-like. I apply these designs to tea towels and other small home accessories and gifts which I always hand print and finish to a beautiful standard. My lead products are screen printed and hand painted cushions. My first love is screen printing, I enjoy the process and the physical activity of it. For the Palmhouse Collection I screen print onto a white linen and cotton blend, which has a lovely weave and sheen to it. The linen element makes them very cool to rest on. I’ve used velvet for the reverse, which gives a really sumptuous finish to the cushions. I chose the darkest green to reflect the depth of foliage in the source of inspiration for the collection. For the Palmhouse Collection I have introduced hand painting coloured dyes into the artwork, which gives a very soft, diffused effect. It also makes each piece very slightly different and therefore unique to the owner.”
Laurel Clock Vine Cushion
Palmhouse is a striking collection featuring incredible plants and the architecture of the Palm House at Kew Gardens. Katie explains how this came about – “I visited this wonderful building in February of 2015 and had never been before. I immediately fell in love with the greenery, the atmosphere and the architecture of the building. I loved how the sweeping panes of glass and huge iron pillars encased this tropical jungle and gave structure to a wild space. This made for some interesting photographic compositions and from there I drew in pencil, paint and oils, trying to capture the vitality of the place. As always, colour was very important to me, but I was especially inspired by the deep greens, which is reflected in the final collection.”
Burton Stripe and Tanner Small Tea Towels
She elaborates – “I really wanted to get back to the tactile quality of screen printed textiles and hand painting dyes into the designs gives a dream-like quality to the artwork. I feel Palmhouse captures the crisp winter light that I experienced on my visit there. Each of the pieces are named after the flora in the artwork. Laurel Clock Vine, Calathea and Black Pepper all make an appearance and “Arecacaea” is the Latin name for the palm tree family. I named the abstract, textural designs Burton Stripe and Tanner after the architect and engineer behind the Victorian Palm House – Decimus Burton and Richard Tanner.”
The Debut Collection is completely different to Palmhouse. This was launched in November 2014 and consists of Teal Mountains, Raspberry Lime and Emerald Oil. Katie tells me about her first range – “Teal Mountains and was inspired by the very colourful rock formations of the Zhangye Danxia Landform which is in China. I used digital printing to capture the vibrant and intense colours along with the sweeping paint marks.”
Teal Mountains Cushion
Another brightly coloured design is the Raspberry Lime. Katie comments – “This created by mark-making using oil pastels and water colour paints which is a free form technique I use.”
Raspberry Lime Cushion
The third design within this collection was Emerald Oil. Katie tells me – “This is quite structural in composition which was created by making textural marks with oil paint and an ink roller which is screen printed onto surfaces.”
Emerald Oil Greeting Cards
Buy the KMJC Designs Products
You can buy these designs from Katie’s website Katie Charleson. The products can be shipped overseas but please note cushions will be sent without the inner pad. To give you an idea about prices points – Small Cushions are £60-79, Medium Cushions £89, Large Cushions £70-155, Wall Hangings £30, Tea Towels £14, Lavender Pouches £10 and Greeting Cards £2.40 each or pack of three £5. Katie also offers a bespoke print design service and can print and manufacture homeware and fashion products.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: K//M//J//C Designs. Thanks: Katie Charleson.