You might not have heard of Donna Wilson but you are likely to have seen (and recognize) her whimsical, colourful and make-you-smile creations around the place!
Donna creates furnishings, accessories, tableware, odd objects and perhaps most famously; creatures. She’s also developed some fantastic eco-friendly pieces such as the Eadie armchair made from solid beech, plywood and natural fibres. You can pick up her hand-made in the UK pieces from so many commercial outlets these days which is testament to her success – these include SCP, John Lewis and Heal’s where she is quoted as saying ‘My work is quite experimental and playful, and I want to stay in that sphere’. Now, isn’t that something we’d all like to achieve in our work?
Donna set up her company in 2003 after graduating from The Royal College of Art, winning the Elle Decoration British Designer of the Year award in 2010 and recently exhibiting solo at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2012… as well as celebrating her first 10 years in business this year– Phew! Whilst this clever woman isn’t in architecture, we find her pieces utterly inspiring and fresh so wanted to dig down into the importance of inspiration and design to her business. Let’s delve into her fantastical world…
How do you and your business work?
I do a bit of everything, selecting colours, mood boards, designing, making samples, production, marketing, admin, and everything to do with the day to day running of a business. Everything we create is designed to make people smile. I love working with colour and I think that brings a lot of personality to people.
My bag has a couple of notebooks and pens. It’s a safety thing – I need to have a note book near me at all times! Just in case I get an idea or remember something I have to do…
What do you love most about your work?
Designing, and I have only recently given myself a bit of time to do this. I used to design in my own spare time, and on the back of an envelope on the bus but I’ve now dedicated some time specifically for trying out ideas and collecting inspiration and I remember why I love it. Being creative is a fantastic feeling, and I’d recommend anyone to give it a go.
I admire colour and texture in work, Hella Jongerius designs clever and thoughtful pieces that have that human element and the work of Alexander Girard, Stig Lindberg and my Grandma are all equally inspiring.
Is the crafted nature of your products as important for you as the design process?
Yes definitely. When I’m making them I have to use the same process for each type but because they’re made by hand, their form varies from one to another and when we get to the stage of stitching their features on, I create a new personality every time- embroidery is like drawing with a needle and thread.
The proportions and placement gives each one a different look and that’s why I enjoy making them. People have asked me why I don’t get them mass produced, it would certainly be less time consuming, but for me I think they would lose their charm, identity and oddness.
And lastly, what are five things you couldn’t live without?
A sketchbook, a stapler, music, colourful paints and the sea.