CORNWALL INSPIRED DESIGN BY HELEN BAKER
This new career path of fabric designer began in 2015 when my family and I moved into our new home in Bradford on Avon. Previously we had been living, working and raising our two sons in Cornwall, but a change of jobs for my husband meant moving counties.
Whilst renovating our new home I was searching for fabrics that would work for all of us as a family whilst not wanting to compromising on style. Frustrated in not finding what I was looking for, I thought I’d look into how fabrics were designed. I took some online courses, taught myself how to draw and illustrate digitally and read lots of design books, immersing myself in the world of fabric design. Throughout this learning process I was creating many different designs designs and slowly refining my style; I was drawn to the natural world, I liked strong silhouette shapes, gender neutral colours and bold simple patterns.
Our house was a testing ground to see if the early designs I created worked when they were printed onto fabric and then made into blinds, lampshades and cushions. It was such a good feeling seeing how the designs on the computer translated so well onto printed fabric. I was then inspired to create a collection where I would need a cohesive theme and a range of designs within this. So I went with what I knew and was inspired by, Cornwall, and combined this with my newly learned pattern principles to begin creating a contemporary coastal collection. A quick google search showed that not much had moved on in regards to coastal fabric as there were so many sailing boats, anchors and beach hut designs. Living in Cornwall on and off for 25 years meant that it is a big part of my life and I wanted my designs to reflect this vibrant, fresh and modern life of the Cornwall of today. So many people I spoke to after we had moved recalled happy times and memories of being in Cornwall or by the coast and I wanted to create a range that evoked these positive emotions.
The more I thought about gender neutral and family friendly designs, the more it struck a chord with me. Today, families increasingly live in shared open plan spaces and need soft furnishings that suit everybody. I’d also read that one of the top requests from families to interior designers is the need to create family friendly homes. I was on the same quest but from a fabric perspective. Just as design has moved forward in children’s fashion, toys and furniture, I felt fabric design still hadn’t quite caught up. After roughly a year at the drawing board on my computer learning, creating and editing, the collection was complete.
The designs and colour palette;
There are 6 designs in total available in a range of different colour ways.
Surfboard Scallop - I took the exact dimensions from the top of a surfboard and made it into a repeating scallop pattern.
Cornish Clouds - an updated version of the seaside stripe with a graphic cloud motif and Breton inspired stripes
Starfish - inspired by my two sons finding a starfish on the local beach to where I grew up whilst rock pooling last year.
Pebble stacks - found on many Cornish beaches but each with a unique shape that is crafted by the sea.
Seaweed -the often overlooked plant of the sea this design echoes it's movement within the sea.
Raindrops - Yes, it sometimes rains in Cornwall, but these raindrops take on a calming nature and movement as they fall as featured in this design.
The colour palette is a mix of bold and soft colours;
Mizzle (soft grey)
Rockpool (soft green)
Salt (just off white)
By using strong silhouette shapes mostly inspired by nature it means that everyone can relate to them making them ideal for family friendly living spaces.
I am really pleased to have found a fabric printing company in the UK who share the same environmental principles as me; to use eco-friendly inks on natural cotton fabrics all helping to minimise the environmental impact of design manufacturing.
I love how fabric and soft furnishings can make a such a difference to a room; they add warmth, texture and an opportunity to be daring with colour and pattern. Through this collection I hope that people will inject a flavour of contemporary coastal life into their everyday life that evokes happy positive memories.
So, yes, you can take the girl out of Cornwall, but you can’t take Cornwall out of the girl ; )
My tips for getting creative in the summer.
Start something for yourself.
With longer daylight hours it’s great to make the most of them and start that project you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t quite found the time for it.
Often hardest part is getting started so make a commitment to yourself and see what happens.
Just like children often have summer holiday projects, there’s nothing to stop us having a short term project to work on too.
Maybe join together with a friend or carve out the same time every week to make sure it happens. Whether it’s spending more time in the garden or pursuing a creative hobby, the sense of satisfaction at the end will be worth the effort.
After all, we reap what we sow.
My favourite fabric is Cornish Clouds in Saffron. I love the simplicity of the design and how it is an updated version of the classic seaside stripes. I also love how yellow adds warmth and positivity to a room, after all, bright colours aren’t just limited to just children’s rooms! The design might also be influenced by the fact that I am very partial to traditional Cornish Saffron cake...
Helen Baker is a self-taught fabric designer who lives with her husband and two sons just outside of Bath. She grew up and lived in Cornwall until moving two years ago and is now reinventing a modern coastal look of interiors with her debut collection in a minimal graphic design inspired style. Passionate about pattern, Helen can often be found taking photos of shapes found in nature on her phone for future design inspiration. Visit her for more inspiring creations and peek in the shop over at helenbaker.com | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest