Homegirl London pays homage to Liz Foster. She’s the maker of quirky applique cushions which are lovingly handmade in England. Her designs include ‘Foodie Love’ with bold slogans conjuring up comfort food – ‘Fish & Chips,’ ‘Bread & Butter’ and ‘Bangers & Mash.’ ‘Beside the Seaside’ takes you back to childhood holiday memories with ‘Bucket & Spade’ and ‘To The Lighthouse’ whilst other cushions plump for a single word – ‘Peace’ or ‘Smile.’ The pieces are made from the finest fabrics like hand-woven silk dupion or wool and are fully lined for the ultimate finish. Based in York, the products are handmade by Liz and her small team of craftswomen. Liz also offers a bespoke service which makes the perfect individual gift for someone special. I caught up with Liz to ask a few questions …
Q: Tell me more about your design background.
A: I studied Painting at the Glasgow School of Art in the early ’90s and later completed an MA in Fine Art when I was living in Scarborough. As well as exhibiting my paintings I worked in tertiary education for 10 years and taught across the Art & Design curriculum, including graphics, textiles and photography. I had to train myself up on all kinds of new areas such as typographic design and some things just stuck.
Q: How did you know it was time to set up your own company?
A: I found myself at the juncture that many women find themselves when deciding to have a baby. Do I carry on in employment, or make a break for it? I decided on the latter. Primarily I knew that I wanted to work from home and work for myself. The process of setting up a business, albeit a minuscule one, was really motivating. After doing various freelance works I decided to focus on one aspect of the business that seemed to have legs and that’s how the cushion business happened. It was all very organic and rather under-planned.
Q: What’s the inspiration behind your designs?
A: I’ve always been a colour-led artist. Using silks allows me to play with colours in a similar way to paint. My interest in textiles stems from functional designs such as trade union and political banners and domestic works like quits. The seaside thing, well I suppose this links to my interest in British culture with all its eccentricities.
Q: What’s your design philosophy?
A: Fundamentally I want to produce really well made, original designs. The handmade aspect is important to me and reflects the quality of the work. I want my customers to know who they are buying from and to buy something that they know will last. To sum up, it’s all about quality and style.
Q: Tell me more about your bespoke service.
A: It’s really very simple. Customers just ask me if I can do a particular phrase or colour-way for them. I make one-off designs for customers as well as exclusive designs for some of my retailers. I also make bespoke sets, so a client can order cushions that co-ordinate across a theme or colourway.
Q: What do you prefer fish and chips or bangers and mash?
A: Fish and chips, with loads of vinegar.
Q: Where is your favourite UK seaside holiday destination?
A: Britain has such fantastic seaside resorts so my loyalties are split I’m afraid. I visit Scarborough a lot and the Yorkshire coast is great. The beaches in Northumberland are really stunning and I’m writing this in Folkestone so I do get around. However, I really love St Ives. I know it hardly a ‘hidden gem’ but the colour and light are just phenomenal. I even honeymooned there.
Q: What’s coming up for the remainder of the year?
A: I’m always thinking up new designs of course. I’ll be developing my literary-themed designs as that’s another real interest of mine. I also want to begin work on some large scale wall-mounted pieces that will take me back to the political banners that inspired me in the first place.
Below is a selection of the Liz Foster cushions which you can buy through Etsy, go to Liz Foster where you will be directed to the store. Prices range from £38 to £69. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Liz Foster, special thanks to Liz Foster.