Homegirl London pays homage to Sian Elin. She’s big on bold, geometric and graphic shapes which she hand draws. Sian combines mid-century modern sensibilities with Moorish and Islamic design influences from Israel, India and the Mediterranean. She’s fascinated with the intricate patterns which she recreates in her own style using beautiful colour Combinations.
Sian started her business back in September 2012 making wallpaper, cushions, tea towels and greeting cards. She’s based in Wales where she is close to her expert sewers for her beautiful cushions and likes to keep all her manufacturing in Britain. I caught up with Sian to find out more …
Q: Tell me about your design background.
A: I studied Typography and Graphic Design at the University of Reading. It was a specialist course concentrating on book and magazine design – covering the history of Art and Printing also, which was really interesting. I then went on to work as a book designer for both Oxford University Press and Penguin for five years.
Q: Why set up your business?
A: I worked with pattern and colour a lot in my role within publishing, but had always wanted to work within interiors – I love being able to transform an entire space rather than just a product. Plus I had always wanted to work for myself, so I launched my business this time last year at Tent London.
Sian Elin Cushions
Q: Where are you based and why?
A: I’m based in Wales because that is where I am from. I have been supported by the Arts Council of Wales for various projects and exhibitions which has been invaluable. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help.
Q: How many people work at your company?
A: I work full time on the company – and then I work with a team of sewers and printers for my wallpaper and cushions. The sewers are based in Wales which is fantastic and the wallpaper printers are based in Northern England. I have just started working with local screen printers on my new range of cushions. I’m also taking on a work experience student in the autumn.
Sian Elin Tea Towels
Q: Describe your design style.
A: My design style is hand drawn, geometric, graphic, and bold. I work very hard on the colours to come up with combinations that are engaging but calm and ‘live-able in’ at the same time.
Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
A: All of my inspiration comes from eastern design and architecture. I’m fascinated by Islamic and Moorish patterns. They are rather removed from the uniform shapes found in architectural patterns, because I didn’t want my work to be a direct replica – I wanted it to take some of the essence of the patterns, but move them on by adding my own touch to the tessellating planes. I work with bold and graphic shapes allowing the patterns Scandinavian sensibilities and so the result is East meets West.
Sian Elin Cushions
Q: Tell me about your patterns.
A: I currently have 5 patterns; Tress, Riad, Peacocks, Rosette and Horseshoe Arch.
Sian Elin Rosette Teal Wallpaper
Q: What’s your fascination with Eastern Patterns?
A: My fascination with eastern patterns comes from my travels – both personal and work – to places like India, Israel and Southern Spain where these are all present. I love looking at shapes and the way in which they interact – what’s so fascinating about eastern patterns, is that it can be pretty tricky to figure out the repeat because they are so clever and built up extensively from simple shapes. I also like the way the shapes create negative spaces, so that you can see multiple patterns in one design. I try to recreate this in my own work.
Sian Elin Tress Multi-Colour Wallpaper
Q: Tell me about your bespoke service.
A: I work on a commission basis within my studio – creating patterns for home wares and gifts, like wrapping papers, cards, and gift bags. I really enjoy this aspect of my job, as it takes me away from obsessing about my business for a bit – and enables me to familiarise myself with trends and what else is out there. Plus when you start a business, so much of your time is spent on production, sales and marketing, so it’s nice to just sit down and draw for a bit.
Sian Elin Large Horseshoe Arch Wallpaper
Q: Which creative person / company do you admire and why?
A: I really admire the illustrations of Ghica Popa – he’s very original and consistently produces his own style, rather than following the zeitgeist. I love the detailed urban layering of his artworks and the humorous touch.
Q: What’s the best thing about owning your own business?
A: You get to work on the designs you want and when something goes well, the sense of achievement you have is far greater than when you work for someone else.
Q: What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone wanting to set up their own business?
A: Keep it simple and learn to do something really well.
Q: What new and exciting projects have you got planned?
A: I have just launched two new designs to sit alongside the rest of my products. They are called Rosette and Riad. Rosette is inspired by a traditional Islamic rosette pattern, but quite abstracted from this. Riad is also abstracted from Islamic repeat patterns. Riad is a type of Moroccan home.
Cushions are £48 and include a duck feather pad. Wallpaper is £90 per 10m roll. You can buy these from Sian’s website www.sianelin.com, as well as notonthehighstreet.com plus various boutiques around the UK in Cardiff, Bristol, Penarth, Sheffield, and further afield in Taiwan and Australia!
Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Sian Elin, special thanks to Sian. Disclosure: This feature includes the following affiliate partners – notonthehighstreet.com (if you click through from my website and purchase items from the affiliates I will earn a small commission).