Homegirl London pays homage to Sasha Tugolukova. This London based designer and illustrator creates striking monochrome tableware. Her fine pencil drawings of floral motifs appear as abstract masks with a hint of dark romanticism. Bananas, palm leaves, iris flowers, pearls, zebras, leopards and horses are also featured. This imagery is silk screen printed onto fine bone china wall plates, side plates, cups and saucers and mugs. Finished by hand with a dash of 22K gold rim detailing, these are precious pieces ripe for a modern-day collector. This collection is made by hand in Stoke-on-Trent so you can expect attention to detail and premium quality. If you’re searching for a unique gift for a creative friend, look no further. I caught up with Sasha Tugolukova to find out more.
Monochrome Tableware Selection
Meet Sasha Tugolukova
Sasha tells me about her design background – “I went to London College of Printing and studied illustration and graphic design. I was never a commercial illustrator though; I was always on the arty and ‘I want to do my own thing’ side. After a few years of trying to get commissioned and in between design jobs I took a placement at Alexander McQueen studio. That was my epiphany moment, which I am still very much grateful for. It stretched my imagination, my technical skills and my work ethics to the limits of which I was not aware before. I realised my potential as an illustrator and where I could apply my past experiences and accumulated expertise. There were so many talented people working at the studio so it was a mind-blowing experience. I also got an insight on how to develop a product from its conception till the finished stage. I was buzzing and excited to go out and start something of my own.”
Looking back, Sasha says she always wanted to have her own ‘thing’ – “I call it a ‘thing’ not ‘business’ because in the beginning I did not have a ‘sell’ mentality. I just wanted to have freedom to create artful yet practical pieces that could be used and hopefully cherished. I guess I would not recommend this strategy to anyone who wants to start their own business. I was quite casual and plan free in the beginning and too excited to finally create something without boundaries and restrictive briefs. It’s when I started getting orders that I realised that I must take this seriously and set up a business in August 2014. So, it happened quite naturally and without the pressure and intimidating fear that the word ‘business’ can carry.”
Philip Mask Wall Plate
To finance the business Sasha had to work extremely hard, she tells me – “I was freelancing as a graphic designer in a day time and spent my evenings and weekends building up the first collection. That was the hardest part to find a balance between two but I was lucky to have amazingly understanding clients. I still do some freelancing because it can be a much-needed mental rest from my own work and a total recalibration of thoughts. I also find it quite helpful because working on your own can be quite isolating. It feels nice to get out of my own bubble and collaborate with other people and be of service. On that note, I’m lucky to have a studio in Haggerston, East London which has a creative community. This gives me the opportunity to chat with other designers and share experiences which is a support network.”
Bananas Tea Cups and Saucers
Being in control of her own destiny gives Sasha enormous joy at seeing her products grow and develop. “It’s so humbling to hear back from happy customers (totally strokes my ego :) but I feel like my purpose here is complete. It is hard work being the owner and the only employee of a business but it has rewards. Even though I take on many roles; creative director, marketer, the administrator, the drawer and the packaging person, it is worth it. I do love being in control of all the processes as it allows me to expand as an artist and learn new skills as a business owner. However, it would be great to have help on the marketing and social media side in the future.
View the Sasha Tugolukova Collection
Sasha talks me through her design style and products – “I would say my style is defined by vivid details, careful lines, monochrome pattern and a hint of dark romanticism which feature my pencil drawings. I make traditionally crafted fine bone china wall plates, cups and saucers, mugs and side plates. All pieces are silk screen printed in Stoke on Trent and finished by hand with 22K gold rim detailing. I take pride in being able to support the quality and heritage of the traditional British craftsmanship. The quality of the products is the key for me that’s why I love knowing that all pieces were individually decorated and finished by hand. I want to preserve that feeling of warmth and tremendous care that go into each product from the starting stage of drawing till the final touch of gold.”
Iris Mask Wall Plate
The debut collection was called Masks, Sasha explains – “This was my creative experiment. Each design was started as a pencil sketch, where individually drawn floral motifs were arranged into abstracted, multi-faceted masks. It was not conventional series of plates (not for the light-hearted) but I wanted to stay committed to my own creative streak and see where it took me. The idea was to explore the ambiguity of natural world with its riches and beautiful mysticism. My friend has called them ‘a feast for the imagination’ and I liked that description. They are still my favourite pieces and I even had to give them all names to add their own unique character.”
Harry Mask Wall Plate
This collection then organically evolved into a series of mugs, cup and saucers and side plates. Sasha elaborates – “I took a more light-hearted and playful approach where hand drawn animals, plants and pearls morph into individual mini story lines. These pieces have an element of surprise and quirkiness to them yet bold and elegant in aesthetics. I wanted to have a series of products that would accompany the Mask plates and create a complete interior and dining experience. It’s good to give my customers creative freedom to mix and match and create their own one-off sets.”
Zebra Side Plate
I asked Sasha what to expect in the future – “I try to think within a year perspective otherwise I get easily overwhelmed with possibilities and options. I’m a slow but steady thinker and I take my time with each new product. Now I’m working on a new teapot and dinner plates designs plus finishing couple of fabric and wallpaper prints. I would also love to have a small capsule collection of silk scarves … I just wish for more hours in a week!”
Under The Palm Side Plate
Creative inspiration for Sasha is drawn from the desire to surprise and please in equal measure. She explains – “I enjoy combining the conventional with the unexpected. This is at the core of all my work and to achieve that I always go back to nature. I know it sounds like such a cliché but natural world is this boundless well of inspiration and everyone can draw from it and interpret in their own unique way. My background had a big impact on my work. As a child, I was trained in traditional Russian folk drawing technique khokhloma which is known for its vivid floral patterns and black backgrounds. My style had obviously evolved and been influenced by so many other aspects (it hardly resembles the original technique) but the overall theme of flora and fauna still captivates me. People who inspire me include Kelly Wearstler (global lifestyle brand), for her interpretation of nature and the work and legacy of Fornasetti house (needless to explain why).”
Buy Sasha Tugolukova Products
If you want to find out more about Sasha or her work you can visit the Sasha Tugolukova Website. You can also buy products from the website and those can be shipped overseas. To give you an idea of prices, the Mask wall plates with gold detailing are £45, mug are £16.50, cups and saucers £28 and side plates £26. Sasha also provides a bespoke service for all types of prints starting with bespoke drawings to wallpaper. You can contact her via the website.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs and Thanks: Sasha Tugolukova