Homegirl London pays homage to Rolfe and Wills (usually spelt this way Rolfe&Wills). This business is owned by conceptual artist and screen printer Alice Rolfe. She makes graphic and geometric patterned homewares, stationery and organic clothing in bold and vibrant colours. The collection consists of cushions, tea towels, bone china mugs, wall art prints, contemporary greeting cards, laptop cases, tote bags, t-shirts and cute baby grows. Aside from the geometrics, you’ll also find an assortment of animals, feathers, bicycles and Bristol landmarks featured. I caught up with Alice to find out more about Rolfe and Wills.
Rolfe and Wills – White Triangle Geometric Cushion
Meet the Rolfe and Wills Designer
Alice studied and gained a first degree at Wimbledon School of Art and a Masters at Kingston University both in Fine Art. Afterwards she assisted a number of artists – Jamie Shovlin, Tania Kovats and Gavin Turk and worked with Ally Capellino for three years. Alice tells me that this experience gave her a valuable insight into presentation and quality finish. During this time she exhibited her own conceptual work in a number of London galleries and European exhibitions.
Rolfe and Wills – Owner Alice Rolfe
Alice explains how the business originally started with her friend Chloe Wills – “Chloe and I went to school together but lost contact for about ten years. Whilst having a cup of tea, after bumping into one another, Chloe (an upholsterer) mentioned she found it hard to find interesting fabrics. I said I was a screen printer and could print fabrics for her. So we decided to start a design and upholstery company together. We called it Rolfe and Wills (our surnames) as we felt it was a simple honest name with no gimmicks to hide behind. After having a baby Chloe wasn’t able to work full time so now concentrates on her upholstery projects so I have continued with the venture solo.”
Rolfe and Wills – Geometric Chevron Bone China Mug
The business is based in a MOT garage which Alice converted last year. She tells me – “It’s an amazing space, light and airy with high walls. It’s in Easton, the arty part of Bristol. There is a strong creative community here so we get lots of interest. The space is so big I rent sections out to six other designer makers so don’t feel I work alone. We all give each other advice, offer help and they are all healthy competition!”
Rolfe and Wills – Green Bike Laptop Case
As with any business Alice experiences highs and lows but she wouldn’t have it any other way – “The advantages outweigh the disadvantages otherwise I would do something else. I get to be as creative as I like without having the limits of someone else’s brief which is hugely satisfying. But in all honesty the main advantage is choosing my own hours. Although I work between ten and twelve hours a day, I can start at 10am if I need to. A slow morning keeps the stress levels down and I feel more productive throughout the day.”
Rolfe and Wills Collection
Colours and shapes are very important in Alice’s work, she explains – “I often take inspiration from colours found naturally in nature. I usually just see an image or a view which will spark something in my mind. I tend to sit on it for a while and let it develop before starting to create something from it. I go through stages where I’m attracted to certain colours or shapes and when I’ve done as much work on them as possible, I’ll naturally turn to something new.”
Rolfe and Wills – Pink Geometric Tote Bag
Alice describes her design style – “It’s bold and vibrant with a modern twist. My geometric patterns come in punchy bright colours which adorn a selection of cushions, tea towels and tote bags. The geometrics can be quite complicated which I offset by using colours found in nature. For example, the white triangle design has been inspired by daises and the blue / green blended patterns come from colours found in fields and tree landscapes.
Rolfe and Wills – Blue and Green Geometric Cushion
Following through with her bright designs are some muli-coloured exotic animals and birds like zebras and parrots.
Rolfe and Wills – Parrot Baby Grow
Her Scandinavian style animal collection is super cute and features polar bears penguins, owls and winter rabbits plus many more adorable creatures.
Rolfe and Wills – Scandinavian Style Animal Contemporary Greeting Cards
Alice reveals her forthcoming designs – “The range I’m currently working on is influenced by map symbols. Since studying our relationships to memories at University, I have been fascinated with Maps because they are an actual representation changing landscapes. This pattern will be printed onto note books, journals and travel diaries.”
Rolfe and Wills – Feather Tea Towel
Using quality and honest materials is important to Alice, she tells me – “Everything I use is organic and ethically sourced. I don’t want to exploit people just so I can have the freedom of my life. I also use organic inks so my footprint is greatly reduced. My notebooks and prints are 100% recycled and where possible it will all be made in the UK like my mugs and tea towels. When my products are made abroad I only use sustainable companies who employ ethically.”
Buy Rolfe and Wills Products
To find out more about Rolfe and Wills go to the website at Rolfe and Wills. To give you an idea about prices cards are from £2.50, tea towels £10, prints £15, cushions £35 and lap top covers are £30.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Rolfe and Wills. Thanks: Alice Rolfe.