Pattern is everywhere—our homes right now have never been more colorful. These eye-catching designs not only make a strong style statement, they lift the spirits and, teamed with surface design, bring a joie de vivre to walls, soft furnishings, and floors. Technology has also helped this maximalist trend, giving new designers the opportunity to start small with limited product runs and allowing them greater creative freedom. The result is an exciting body of new names to watch—here are four to look out for…
1. Emma J Shipley: Surrealist rising starThe graduate collection of this Royal College of Art alumnus was bought in 2012 by Browns, London’s influential designer boutique, and Shipley hasn’t looked back since. Her much-lauded hand-drawn designs for interiors, fashion, and accessories fuse the natural with the surreal and a bold use of color to create fantastical motifs. These include stalking tigers with peacock-feather tails and rearing unicorns with cheetah-spotted coats.
“I find things that are meaningful to me and put them together: places I travel to, animals I really like, fairy tales, Greek myths, and children’s books,” says the designer, who has also collaborated with Atelier Swarovski, Anthropologie, and even Disney for a Star Wars collection. “My family background plays a part too—my grandmother grew up in India and my father grew up in Africa.”
Shipley, who recently unveiled a collection of chairs covered in her fabrics, will soon launch her new fall collection inspired by a recent visit to Botswana and the silent 1925 film The Lost World, based on the book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
I do a variety of colorways—the ones I think are the most crazy are often the ones people love the most
Working from her studio on the top floor of her London home, Shipley draws directly onto paper in pencil, first roughly sketching the designs that become elaborately detailed over about two weeks. “I like the ideas to develop on the page so I start lightly,” she says, “but towards the end I draw heavily, to get that engraved look.”
The black-and-white designs are then digitized, Shipley adding color on computer. “I do a variety of colorways—the ones I think are the most crazy are often the ones people love the most,” she says.
2. Wayne Pate: Beauty in brushstrokesThe past is the starting point for artist Wayne Pate, but historic motifs and styles are then given a playful spin to create designs that feel familiar yet also new. “I like to deconstruct something from a certain time period or movement, one that people understand the history and origins of, and then make it my own by piecing it back together as one composition,” he explains.
A commercial graphic designer for many years, his earlier artistic work was dominated by line drawings, but today it is more painterly, with a lovely brushstroke style that is evident in his well-received collaboration with Studio Four NYC. In this, his second collection for the brand—released in February with more designs scheduled to drop in fall—a series of singular motifs from his sketchbooks have been reworked into repeats that are digitally printed onto Belgian linen, as well as clay-coated paper to make wallpaper.
Pate has also recently begun creating hand-painted ceramics with limited-edition dinnerware and large-scale tiles. Color remains integral to his work. “It is more important than anything,” he says. “Get your color right, and it brings out other qualities; if color is not there, it detracts from the image.”
His next body of work is likely to reflect the colors of France—after living and working in New York, he and his family have just relocated to Paris for a year. “With so much that is different, from the scenes around me to the materials I use, I am hopeful it will lead to a new direction in how I approach my work.”
3. Andrea Brand: Abstract expressiveThe swirling patterns of oil on water, bundles of fabric on a market stall—Andrea Brand takes the minutiae of the everyday and transforms them into striking abstract designs in glorious technicolor. “The world is full of interesting stuff that often goes unnoticed,” she says. “In our lives we are so goal-driven that we only look straight ahead, not left or right, and certainly not where the blind spots are—but that is where the jewels lie.”
Brand’s just-launched collection, Traces, was inspired by leaves. “When you look at a leaf through a microscope you see these incredible structures,” explains the former art therapist, who sold her practice to pursue a more creative life. “Then there are the leaves of autumn—when they start to fall you see their bones. The final inspiration came from the lushness of banana leaves. Through all of these elements I became fascinated with the cyclical nature of life, and the different greens that occur throughout it.”
In her Cape Town studio, Brand works by first painting on canvas, then adding layers of pattern and texture; with Traces she used Indian block-printing. She then reworks the end result onto paper before digitally printing the design onto fabric, paper, and wood—even pieces of furniture.
Although she now lives in South Africa, Brand was born in neighboring Namibia and she credits her upbringing with giving her an instinctive affinity with color. “It’s a country of desert sands in differing shades of ochre and crystal-clear skies of blue and turquoise,” she says. “This lushness of color has stayed with me, it’s part of my nature.”
4. Lisa Todd: Graphic supremoGraphic geometric prints in coordinated hues have won Lisa Todd numerous accolades as well as the attention of Pucci, the iconic Italian fashion house. Todd is, however, a relative newcomer to the craft—for 20 years she worked internationally as an interior designer until an accident triggered a debilitating neuromuscular condition.
Unable to work as before—the condition causes her neck and shoulder muscles to spasm—Todd found solace in painting, which also allowed her to launch a new career that combines her love of surface pattern design and passion for color. “There are so many possibilities with pattern design,” she says. “And the vibrancy of color has always been my thing; from work I’ve done as a color therapist, I understand the impact that it has—it makes people feel better.”
Todd paints in her brightly decorated cottage in Windsor, England, working with acrylics on large boards with the help of an assistant. At least half are discarded before the favorites are turned into digital files for printing on a variety of surfaces.
Todd grew up in Durban and her first full and widely acclaimed 2016 collection, Ndebele, was inspired by the decorative arts and traditional skills of the South African people of the same name. Todd is currently working on her second collection, due to be launched early 2019. She is coy about its inspiration, but the collection is, she admits, “very colorful and very patterned.” Of course.