Homegirl London pays homage to Violet & George. It’s a company which isn’t owned by anyone called Violet or anyone called George for that matter. Nicky Mudie is the woman behind the interior tailoring business making beautifully bespoke and simply sumptuous cushions, lampshades, made to measure curtains, blinds and upholstered furniture. She set up her business back in 2009 when she couldn’t find any original or creative soft furnishings for her interior design projects. She’s always had a passion for colour, fashion and craftsmanship so it’s no wonder she’s ended up making such beautiful, eclectic pieces which incorporate pleating, weaving and fringing. I caught up with Nicky to ask a few questions …
Q: What’s your background?
A: I studied textile design and was always going to be a print designer from an early age. At university, I subsidised my income by making clothes and costumes for people and being involved in a fashion up-cycling business called NoLogo for Oxfam. So when I stepped out into the real world I continued designing, up-cycling and making clothes for most of my 20s. I turned to interiors after helping friends launch a private members club just off the Strand and apprenticed myself to the interior designer who took me under his wing for 2 years … I worked as an interior designer for 10 years and then launched Violet & George in 2009 to take me back to my first love of textiles.
Q: What inspired you to set up Violet & George?
A: The lack of creativity in soft furnishing and a relationship with some amazing craftspeople with some incredible skills. We have a great relationship with some of the last fabric pleaters, trimming weavers and lampshade makers left in the UK and we hope to keep these dying skills alive by reminding people to care where their furnishings are being made and in what circumstances.
Violet & George Tassel on Bridge Pendant Light, £500
Q: Why the name Violet & George?
A: Violet was my Granny and George my Grandpa. Both were a huge inspiration to me. My Granny always had a big sewing box crammed full of jewels – bits of lace, trimmings, buttons and threads which we’d use to create beautiful and crazy things. My Grandpa was always dressed in the best suits that Savile Row had to offer. Their parents were in the jute industry in Dundee and I suppose a love of textiles is in my blood and I wanted this sense of heritage and inspiration to reflect in my reference to them.
Q: Describe your design style.
A: Very eclectic. As long as something is beautiful, well designed or striking it has a place in a Violet & George scheme. I like items to stand out, for an interior to look collected rather than contrived.
Violet & George Cushions
Q: Tell me about your ranges/collections.
A: We try to make 2 collections a year. Often we take inspiration from what has been happening on the catwalks. We seek out up and coming fabric designers and always use small independent craftspeople for techniques such as weaving, pleating and fringing.
Q: Tell me about your made-to-measure soft furnishing service.
A: We can basically tailor anything to do with fabric in the home. So from simple curtains to outrageous ottomans upholstered in goat hair, no job is too small or big. We have supplied soft furnishings for residential projects of up to 7 or 8 bedrooms and to restaurants and hotels. For example, our lampshades can be seen in the Wellington St, Covent Garden branch of Byron Hamburgers. We also do light interior decoration jobs such as sourcing furniture and specifying flooring, paint colours and wallpaper.
Violet & George Upholstered Goat Hair Ottoman
Q: Tell me about your bespoke lampshades and cushions.
A: I set up Violet & George in order to do something more exciting with soft furnishings. I wanted to push some boundaries, make it more cutting edge, merge it with fashion and revive some of the important old techniques that are dying off due to mass production. Our lampshades and cushions reflect all of this. We often incorporate the old techniques such as weaving, pleating and trimming and combine with luxurious fabrics such as silks and linens.
Violet & George Large Scales Cushion, £130
We love to create exciting shapes, especially with our lampshades; these can be extremely contemporary or on the other end of the scale can reflect past British eras such as Victorian and Georgian. I love to incorporate antiques into my designs too. All our lamp bases are reworked antique finds such as brass artillery shells from WWII, copper jugs, old chemist’s bottles and one of my personal favourites – a Victorian dentist’s drill! I also use old Victorian and Irish lace and beaded trimmings on many of our lampshade designs. I would say our products are very tactile and they definitely turn heads.
Violet & George Victorian Dentist Drill Lamp, £840
Q: Tell me about your showroom.
A: After being cooped up in a small studio at the back of a trading estate in Fulham we moved to our on street showroom on St Helens Gardens in North Kensington in July last year and we haven’t looked back since! We love having a window to dress and somewhere to show off our products. We get so many compliments from customers popping in each day; they always seem to be pleasantly surprised when they come in to look around. It’s a nice feeling to be able to make people smile and raise an eyebrow here or there! I think people are surprised by what can be done with fabric.
On the made to measure and decoration side of things, Clients can come in and look through our fabric library and rummage through boxes of cuttings whilst relaxing with a coffee. It’s quite a sensory experience, the environment is meant to be very tactile and we experiment with many different textures and materials so that clients can see and compare everything in the flesh. Even our floor displays 7 different types of wood, so clients can understand the difference between walnut, ash, smoked oak and others.
Violet & George Showroom
Q: What’s coming up for the rest of 2013?
A: I’m working on wallpaper and fabric ranges and our next colour palette for shades and cushions.
If you want to take a look at more pieces from the range then go to Violet and George. The showroom is based at 57 St Helens Gardens, London W10 6LN. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Violet & George, special thanks to Nicky Mudie and Sarah Ffrench Davis.