‘My patterns have a homespun style’ — Nancy Straughan talks textiles

***Rachel Khoo would like to thank all the inspiring people who helped make the Khoollect studio a hive of creativity. Although the Khoollect studio’s doors have now closed, you can keep up with Rachel’s newest adventures on RachelKhoo.com and on Rachel’s Instagram and Facebook pages – and, continue to enjoy the Khoollect website’s stories and recipes, which will remain available.***

From her London home, Nancy Straughan produces carefully crafted homewares and accessories using her her own, organic, printed fabrics. With patterns that present a nod to mid-century textile designers and Scandinavian influences, each piece of this talented creative’s collection is a unique and delicately executed work — the beauty lies in the details. We chatted to Nancy about her influences, artistic approach and creative routine:

Tell us about a typical working day …

I work from home, which I love! I’ve been working as a designer for four years and, although my days can be varied, I always try and do something creative or hands on every day. I start my day doing admin and email work. I am a seriously organised person. That being said, I am also ridiculously forgetful so I have a diary for my textiles and homewares business and a separate one for my workshops.

After the boring admin work is done, I check through my diaries and to-do lists to double-check any events or meetings. Once I know how my day is looking, I check through my website and review any online orders. I recently re-designed my site so I am still adding bits to it to make sure it looks perfect. If I have product orders I’ll pack them up and I’ll also pack any swatch requests from interior designers and shops before heading to the post office.

Nancy Straughan

Where do you find inspiration and motivation?

Recently I have been really inspired by art deco fabrics and wallpapers. I live quite near the Geffrye Museum, which is one of my favourite places in London. It’s a wonderful small place that exhibits the history of interiors from 1600 to present day. I went there for the first time when I was about eight, with my mum, and I love paying it a visit once in a while. They have great historical wallpapers on show that always inspire me. The last thing I usually do is play around with new pattern ideas for an hour or two.

It’s important to me that I practise traditional printing methods and that my patterns have a homespun style. Many of the motifs seen in my work are inspired by pattern designers who worked in the 1950s and ’60s. The designers that inspire me most are Lucienne Day, Henry Moore and Mary White, who made fashionable British pattern available to everyone. During my final year at uni I discovered the beautiful textile prints of Henry Moore in the library and my mind was blown. Since then, I have become obsessed with mid-century design … I have a lot of books on the subject!

How would you describe your work?
My pattern designs are always inspired by textiles that were made between the 1930s and 1970s. The ’70s is my absolute favorite era for interiors, fashion and general style! I’m also very inspired by Scandinavian design. I tend to draw quite wobbly imperfect shapes that will make up the motifs. Design always starts with a sketchbook.
Ideas, notes, motifs and repeats are all jotted down ready to be turned into a pattern or product. The design process is very hands-on and the computer is only really used to tidy things up a little. My patterns contain lots of texture and this is achieved by taking mountains of photos, scanning tree bark, stones and crystals and lots of messy work with ink. I still use lots of printing and drawing techniques that I learned at art school too.
Nancy Straughan
I #khoollect a few …
(Well a lot actually) Moomin mugs, I think I have about 20 of them!
What’s your favourite item in your khoollection?
My favorite thing I’ve ever made is my Blue Leaves fabric, as that was one of the first patterns I designed that felt like ‘me’. With regards to an object, it has to be my childhood stuffed toy dog called ‘Puppy’.
How do you spend a Sunday morning?
Every Sunday my boyfriend and I wake up late and watch Saturday Kitchen on iPlayer. It’s a cheesy tradition! He’s a coffee snob so he’ll whip up delicious coffees for us and we’ll just sit and enjoy each other’s company. We might head out later to an exhibition or out for lunch.

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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Nancy Straughan

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Follow Nancy’s textile endeavours on her website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Images from Nancy’s website.