Amelia’s Magazine | Fine Craft Textiles with Japanese Flair: An interview with designer Nazanin Kamali

Cushion Collection, Nazanin Kamali
Furniture and Interiors designer Nazanin Kamali introduced her debut textiles collection at the Home London show in January – here she explains the reasons why she has turned to fine craft and what inspired the designs of her new range of cushions, embroideries and wallhangings.

Nazanin Kamali 2010
Chrysanthemum 2 (Styled), Nazanin Kamali
I recently discovered your debut textiles collection at Home London earlier this year – what was the reception like at this show?
It was the first time I had shown my textile designs so it was great to receive feedback on the range, particularly from bloggers and stylists who were very complimentary.

Hexagon Cushion (styled), Nazanin Kamali
You originally trained as a furniture designer, receiving an MA from the RCA, what prompted the move into textile design in more recent years?
I’ve always been more interested in craft than commercial design, even though my career path initially led me down that route. I’m drawn to the storytelling aspect of crafting and when my mother passed away in 2006 shortly before I fell pregnant, I found myself turning to the therapeutic craft processes of embroidery to help me work things through. I was inspired by Isabel Allende’s familial novel The House of the Spirits, which I first read as a teenager, and began to create a vast patchwork blanket constructed from seventy-seven hand-sewn squares, each one reflective of a different aspect of my life. The blanket took two and a half years to complete but the process helped to focus and heal my mind, and led me down the path I’m on today.

Crane Cushion (styled), Nazanin Kamali
Chrysanthemum 1 (Styled), Nazanin Kamali
How does this textile interiors brand sit alongside your other design work?
As a founding designer for Case Furniture my furniture designs reflected the attention to precision detail and intricate repetitive forms found in Japanese arts, which have long fascinated me. But whereas my previous furniture designs have always fit within specific design parameters, my textile collections are deeply rooted in my own personal fascination with cultural mythology, with an underlying melancholia and hint of the macabre.

Shrimps Cushion (styled), Nazanin Kamali
The cushion designs which form the backbone of the brand feature embroidered designs inspired by Japanese heraldic symbols: how did you choose the designs and what do they mean?
My interest in Japanese Kamons stems from work I did on the interior of Brighton-based restaurant Oki-Nami back in 1994. The six Mon designs – Chicken, Crane, Shrimp, Hexagon and Chrysanthemum (1 & 2) – were mostly chosen for their beauty, but a unifying mythological undercurrent runs through all the designs. The Crane symbolises 1,000 years while the Shrimp, with its resemblance to an old man hunched over with a beard, represents longevity. The Hexagon, resembling the shell of a wise tortoise, represents good luck.

Wedding Vows Runner (styled), Nazanin Kamali
Suicide Suitcase, Bespoke Commission by Nazanin Kamali
Why did you decide to concentrate on embroidery techniques and where do you get your products made?
My mother was a dressmaker and had taught me when I was younger, so I returned back to the craft after she passed away as a way of feeling closer to her. All my original prototypes and bespoke pieces I make by hand myself, while my collection pieces are produced in India. It was very important to me to find a manufacturer that offered a high quality of material and the production methods they use have allowed me to offer much more intricate embroidery details than I could ever have produced by hand.

Patchwork Tapestry, Bespoke Commission, Nazanin Kamali
Your height chart and advent calendar are based on original designs made for your son: how do you scale these into mass production?
I work very closely with my manufacturers to ensure their capabilities in turning my prototypes into high quality production pieces and consulted on all steps of the process. It was really fascinating to see the evolution of the project through, and I am delighted with the final results.

Chicken Cushion (styled), Nazanin Kamali
Do you have any other exciting projects in the pipeline that you can share with us?
I have a number of exciting things in the pipeline and, amongst others, am beginning work on a project involving giant embroidered buttons for an upholstered headboard, as well as designs for felt doll chess pieces.

Categories ,Case Furniture, ,Chicken, ,Chrysanthemum, ,craft, ,Crane, ,embroidery, ,Furniture, ,Hexagon, ,Home London, ,India, ,Interior Design, ,Interiors, ,interview, ,Isabel Allende, ,Japanese Kamons, ,Mon, ,Nazanin Kamali, ,Oki-Nami, ,rca, ,Shrimp, ,textiles, ,The House of the Spirits

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Amelia’s Magazine | Home London at Olympia, January 2015: Review

WOW lighting from Pad Home.

This year I attended the January Home London show with toddler in tow, since needs must. He was very, erm, helpful, on the first leg… then promptly fell asleep in his buggy after lunch (something he never ever does) – giving me a good few hours to see more of the show and actually chat with the designers.

First stop, vintage toy car wallpaper by Ella Doran went down especially well with Snarf.

Åry Trays is a Scandinavian manufacturer of birchwood trays who work with a host of designers including many UK based ones. I particularly liked quirky designs by RCA alumni Michael Angove.

Snarfle made a beeline for this Minecraft inspired beanbag by furniture designer turned artisanal textiles designer Nazanin Kamali. She had made it for her own son and was very tolerant of his desire to kick his shoes off and pretend sleep, and even helped bribe his removal with a handy chocolate coin. Her unusual embroidered shrimp cushion got a huge amount of love when I posted it on instagram – a sign, perhaps, that people are growing weary of the ubiquitous owls and foxes that still dominate current decorative designs. Find her cushions stocked in SCP.

I discovered Otago Design at last year’s Tent London (about which I still planning some kind of review… unfortunately my Kickstarter campaign to produce a book got in the way of an earlier blog). I really love the way they marry African design sensibilities with contemporary design.

One of my absolute favourite finds was this amazing iridescent flat pack lighting by the relatively new TOBYhouse from London based designer Toby Sanders. Having already wowed the world with super fun Beach Ball lights, this is his latest innovation.

Arabia make a whole host of Moomin ceramics that are just so darn cute… can’t wait for Snarf to get better with china!

Klaus Haapaniemi does it again for Iitala with these gorgeous dancing foxes. His designs are out of this world, if only I could afford to own some.

Lush Designs_Beekeeper_Snarfle
Snarfle gave the thumbs up to the new Bee Garden fabric design by Lush Designs, and we were both enamoured with their lovely new range of melamine tableware for little ones, inspired by requests from customers with kids who frequent their East Dulwich shop. The unisex designs feature a unicorn and a lion, and Snarf promptly set up a play kitchen to make us cups of tea with the beakers. Also new to the range: these ceramic kitty money boxes.

This year the COADG curated area had grown, with some old names joined by new finds. Fanny Shorter textiles are always a winner, and I’m looking forward to her new collection, due for release later this year.

I am in no way surprised that designer Laura Slater has created a bespoke collection for Heals. Love these painterly designs!

These awesome hot pink flamingo lampshades are by Anna Jacobs.

Thorody is the brain child of fine artists Vicky Putler and Theo Sykes, who are inspired by a combination of Modernism and South East London life. The resulting graphic designs are super slick and wearable for the home.

My Top Drawer review is coming up next!

Categories ,2015, ,Anna Jacobs, ,Arabia, ,Åry Trays, ,Beach Ball lights, ,Bee Garden, ,COADG, ,Ella Doran, ,Fanny Shorter, ,flamingo, ,Heals, ,Home London, ,Iitala, ,instagram, ,Kickstarter, ,kitty money boxes, ,Klaus Haapaniemi, ,Laura Slater, ,Lush Designs, ,Michael Angove, ,Minecraft, ,Moomin, ,Nazanin Kamali, ,Olympia, ,Otago Design, ,Pad Home, ,review, ,SCP, ,Snarfle, ,Tent London, ,Theo Sykes, ,Thorody, ,Toby Sanders, ,TOBYhouse, ,Top Drawer, ,Vicky Putler

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