Homegirl London pays homage to Oscar Francis. This business is owned by Sarah Evans who creates home accessories inspired by modern and classic British architecture. She takes typical architectural forms of London housing stock and re-imagines these into beautiful patterns. Her work covers a mixture of Victorian houses, 1960s tower blocks and the council estates of today. These designs feature on art prints, contemporary greeting cards, tea towels and cushion covers which are all made in the UK. I caught up with Sarah to find out more about Oscar Francis.
N16 Tea Towels
Meet the Oscar Francis Designer
Sarah’s creativity was nurtured from an early age, she tells me – “I grew up in a creative household. My mother is an artist and my father was an architect who ran his own practice for over 40 years. Needless to say I spent my childhood with a paint brush in one hand and a pencil in the other.”
Sarah received her degree and diploma in architecture at Oxford Brookes University. She then moved to London and worked in an architect practice while she studied at Kingston University to achieve her final qualification. After that she worked as a Project Architect for housing and public arts for six years. She tells me – “The skills and training I gained during this time were invaluable for starting and running my own company.”
Beautiful Estate Tea Towels
For Sarah starting her own business was always a dream – “In 2013 I began to think about applying my skills and my passion for design outside the confines of an architectural practice. I didn’t have to look far as it was around this time that I gave birth to my twin sons Oscar and Francis (hence the brand name). I began sewing and designing clothes, blankets and quilts for the boys. The quilt making quickly turned into a business when friends starting requesting them. The idea of using architectural designs came about when I wanted more interesting fabrics for my quilts and decided to create my own.”
Oscar Francis Collection
Sarah tells me about her design style – “My work is graphic, modern and bold. I take typical architectural forms of the city. These forms are often considered as background architecture which I re-imagine into beautiful prints and patterns. Some pieces are decorative like the Victorian houses which are taken back to their most basic characteristics. Others aim to celebrate and revive those that are often derided and unappreciated like a 1960s concrete tower block.”
Modern Block Greeting Card
Sarah is lucky enough to work from her North London home in her lovely big studio. With her location and past career as an architect it’s no wonder that her designs concentrate on buildings. She tells me – “It goes without saying that working in the city is a constant source of inspiration to me. Details on an office façade in the City, a run-down block of flats in Islington, the colours of the shutters on a Georgian terrace on Fournier Street are all part of what makes London an endless source of ideas to me. My partner is also an architect so we have an extensive architectural library in our home.”
N16 Tea Towel
All of the collections sit under the heading ‘Pattern Architecture,’ which is a common term used to describe types of architecture that are reproduced many times.
Paper House: This is a pattern inspired by a child’s drawing of a house. It is one of their first experiences of architecture and was the starting point for all the collections.
Paper House Tea Towel
Terrace: This is based on three common and historic patterns of terraced housing – Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian.
Modern: Contrasts the curving lines of 1930s art deco architecture, the geometric elevations of the 1950s Span house and the bold silhouettes of 60s and 70s ‘pattern’ tower blocks.
Modern Collection Cushion Covers
Beautiful Estate: A new design which is a series of patterns inspired by council estate elevations from various boroughs in London.
Beautiful Estate Greeting Cards
N16: This is another new design which is inspired by local landmarks close to Sarah’s home in Stoke Newington, North London.
N16 Art Prints
All the products are made in the UK. The greeting cards are printed in Derby, the giclee art prints are printed in London and the tea towels and cushion covers are both printed and manufactured in Lancashire.
Buy Oscar Francis Products
To find out more about these amazing architectural inspired products go to Oscar Francis. Price guide: Greeting Card Packs £7.75-8.75, Cushion Covers £32-85, Tea Towels £12-30 and Art Prints £45-60.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Oscar Francis and Simon Eldon. Thanks: Sarah Evans.