Homegirl London pays homage to Quirk and Rescue (officially Quirk & Rescue Design). This business is all about bright, colourful, graphic and very bold home decor. They are on a mission to transform bland and non-descript homes into quirky creative spaces with their distinctive wallpapers, wall prints, cotton cushions and cotton tea towels. The eclectic designs celebrate everything from typography, music and album covers, 19th century optical illusions, 1940s infographics and 1950s Victorian medical illustrations. You’ve probably seen the cushions spelling out the words associated with decades of sound – Punk, Rock, Funk, Disco and Electro. If you haven’t, then I’m not sure where you’ve been hiding! I caught up with the owners to find out more about Quirk and Rescue.
Decades of Sound Cushion Collection
Meet Quirk and Rescue
Quirk and Rescue is owned by Tania James and Jason Rama. They prefer to remain anonymous because they want their designs to speak for themselves, rather than them being about who they are. So they often use the alias names of Ms. Pink and Mr. Black! But I did make them tell me their real names which I’ll use in this article because I think they should take the credit for their outstanding work. Jason studied Textile Design in the early nineties and worked for Anna French before falling into teaching. Eventually he decided to stop giving away his good ideas and start doing them for himself. Tania is an original London punk with an aesthetic sense of colour that shouldn’t work, but does (those are her words). She is a bit of a chameleon having trained in hairdressing (she has pink hair), felting and knitting, before finally setting her sights on interiors design.
Tania and Jason
The pair met back in 2006, they reminisce – “We started bemoaning about the lack of truly colourful interiors until we finally managed to get our acts together and start the company in 2011. It was ‘shabby chic’ that finally drove us to it. Something just had to be done!” Jason concentrates mainly on design while Tania leans towards styling, photography, sales and the social media presence. Although there is much cross over, they explain – “No design or product we make is produced unless we are both happy with it. We’re both perfectionists, so we basically meddle in what the other person is doing until we agree that it’s what we want … or until one of us gives in … neither one of us has ever given in by the way!”
Pop Screen Print
They set up Quirk and Rescue because they really felt they had something to offer – “We wanted to add to the world of design. We also wanted to design things that we would be happy to have in our own home, else why do it at all? Why design something that you wouldn’t want or don’t like? We originally started making bespoke hand painted furniture, taking mid-century modern pieces and re-love them for the 21st century. So there was a play on the phrase Search and Rescue. We were rescuing furniture and making it quirky. We were discussing what to name our company, when Jason said jokingly – “What about Quirk and Rescue?” Which we both loved. Also, he said he liked the word ‘quirky’ because a University tutor of his had once used the word ‘semi-accusingly’ to describe his design work – “You’re quirky aren’t you?” Yes. Yes we are. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Punk Screen Print
They are lucky to be based in Hackney, East London, they tell me – “This is the creative hub for the entirety of London, if not the UK, so that’s a very good reason for being here. There are lots of things going on to absorb and use. We went to New York recently to exhibit at a trade show; everyone we knew at the show lived near us or had lived near us in Hackney. Why would we want to live anywhere else?”
It’s the two of them working together which is just as they like it – “The great thing about working in design in the 21st century is that newer design companies like ours find it easier to exist as production methods have changed. We like the flexibility of being small and the way it gives us complete control of our brand. It also means when we collaborate on a project, we can devote as much time as required. Also, operating costs can be lower and turnaround times quicker. We can produce to order in a relatively small amount of time. We love the fact that we finally get to unleash the inside of our minds onto the world! What could be more exciting than that? Apart from when people tell us they really like our work and buy it of course!”
Quirk and Rescue Collection
They make wallpaper, wall prints, cotton cushions, cotton tea towels and occasionally work on a few furniture commissions. They describe their design style as – “Bright, colourful, graphic and bold. If you’re afraid of these things, look away now! You know when you see people walking down the street and they are incredibly stylish and colourful, vivacious people, yet when you go to their homes, its white walls and a badly hung Ikea picture? We believe if you want to have a colourful life (and who doesn’t?); you need to have colour in your life.”
The collection includes quirky designs, they tell me – “Our designs are original, based on elements as diverse as typography, music and 19th century optical illusions. We love bold colours combined with flat graphics. It’s been said we have a 1960’s /1970’s feel … we take that as a compliment!” It’s no surprise then that their inspiration comes from searching the design elements of the past. They elaborate – “We look for that missed idea, that thing that was cool that just needs a twist to make it exciting again. So that’s why our inspirations tend to be more personal or eccentric. So our influences have ranged from 19th century optical illusions, album covers typography, music genres, isometric drawing, infographics for the 1940’s and 1950’s and Victorian medical illustration. We also love playing around with different media and techniques and seeing what we can do with them.”
The wallpaper collection features two designs. The HexaGone has been inspired by isometric optical illusions. This is available in four colour options of blue / purple, cream / green, pink / grey and orange / yellow. These have been digitally printed and are available in rolls measuring 52cm wide and 10 metres long. The other design is Wundt which has been inspired by 19th century optical illusions. Colour options are indigo / orange, light grey / pink, grey / watchdial, pale green / blue and grey / black.
As I’ve already mentioned, the cushion collection celebrates key music decades – Punk, Disco, etc. They also have a range of Isometric optical illusion patterned cushions in various colours which are very trippy. Some of the wall prints match the music decade cushions whilst others show various diagrams – Swell, Carroll and Venn. The tea towels showcase classic fonts – Arial, Bauhaus, Courier, Futurist, Impact and Rockwell.
Font Tea Towels
In terms of materials, they tell me – “We work with fabric, paper and are always looking for new things to play with. We try to make our products as green as we can, which is fairly easy as the people we manufacturer with have those same concerns too. Also, we only manufacturer in the UK as that helps keep our carbon footprint down. Ultimately, being as green as possible makes good business sense. It’s not good business if there’s no planet left, there won’t be anyone to sell to!”
Buy Quirke and Rescue Products
You can buy the products from Quirk and Rescue and they can ship their wares overseas. To give you an idea about prices – wallpaper per roll retails at £140, wall prints are £10-40, cotton cushions are £35 and cotton tea towels £12.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Quirk and Rescue. Thanks: Tania James and Jason Rama.