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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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