We were lucky enough to catch up with husband and wife team Suzanne and Chris Carpenter from The Patternistas to chat all things pattern and colour! The Patternistas is a creative studio with a passion for pattern and the uplifting power it has to transform products and spaces and put happy smiles on faces.
Talk us through your career journey so far, how did you get to where you are now?
After almost a lifetime answering other people’s briefs through a combination of illustration, graphic design and branding, we sold our agency and decided to set off on a new creative journey in order to generate our own projects and work collaboratively with others. As cheesy as it sounds, colour and pattern are a passion and a pastime and so it felt natural to make it the focus of our work. We launched Patternistas in December 2015 and haven’t looked back.
What is your favourite part of the job?
Our life is an intense game of I-spy; peering at ripples in puddles, staring at shadows of trees, rummaging through flea markets for patterned finds, cramming days with drawings and doodles.
Collecting, absorbing, recording, creating - we feel incredibly lucky to be able to call it WORK! We also love running workshops for industry professionals to indulge in some creative play. So often architects and interior designers are so busy trying to meet deadlines and manage budgets that they don’t have time to explore their personal creativity.
How do you work? Do you have a sketch book of ideas? Do you write a journal? Are your designs created by hand or on a computer?
Mother Nature is the queen of pattern making so we spend as much time as possible in her company. We ‘re never far from pen and paper or a few rolls of MT masking tape. We keep a lot of ideas books and experiment with collage, painting, printmaking etc. After the initial creative play and design development most of our designs are then drawn digitally using a wacom tablet. We love working in Vectors as they allow us to offer the custom scale and custom colouring options we’re known for.
What makes a good pattern?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say. Personally we have bold, eclectic tastes but if we’re designing a bespoke pattern it’s so important know the questions to ask, to listen carefully to the client and understand they’re needs in order to ensure the pattern is made from elements that are pertinent to them and help tell their story. We encourage them to be as brave and bold as possible. It’s also important to us that our patterns create smiles.
During the pandemic we’ve been busy trying to make our home city of Cardiff as colourful and uplifting as possible. We are part of https://www.jackarts.co.uk/ #yourspaceormine project and have two poster campaigns up around the city. We’ve also worked with Cardiff Council on the welcome messaging for the city centre as it reopened after lockdown. Our designs are printed on the road outside the city's biggest tourist attraction - Cardiff Castle. We’ve had so many messages from the community telling us that our work has cheered them up during a difficult period and in return that’s been incredibly uplifting for us.
Is your home as colourful as your work?
It’s getting more colourful by the day. We’re on a mission to decorate the whole house with more and more colour. We're drawn to colourful objects and so though some of our rooms are white there are still plenty of highlights. We love charity shop and flea market finds and are constantly sipping from 70’s patterned, vintage cups.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to add pattern into their home but doesn’t know where to start?
Remember that your home is a space for you to express yourself and you’re allowed to have some fun and not take it too seriously. Don’t impose rules on yourself based on what others will think and don’t be afraid to experiment. Take a scroll through instagram or pinterest if you’re not sure of your own aesthetic. Save the pictures of colourful or patterned rooms you love and work out what it is about them that excites you. If you’re nervous about permanent decisions then masking tape is a great way to start. It peels off without damaging surfaces and comes in a great array of colours. You can apply it to furniture, walls, picture frames etc. The list is endless. There are so many illustrators and artists offering beautiful, colourful, affordable prints. Buying them is great way of supporting small businesses and brightening your home.
When did you first discover mt tape?
We saw lots of inspiring images on instagram a few years back and used it to decorate our Patternistas desk top.
Talk to us about the ways you have used your tape in your projects?
We’ve used it for a number of our creative workshops - from decorating stools and chairs in London furniture showrooms with groups of interior designers and architects, to creating community art on the steps of the Welsh parliament for Cardiff Design Festival.
Best advice you have ever been given?
Count your blessings and be yourself
Favourite Gallery or Museum?
London to visit, Cardiff to live,
If you could have dinner with three artists (past or present) who would they be?
Yayoi kusama, Esther Mahlangu, Sonia Delaunay
Visit http://www.patternistas.co.uk/ to discover more about The Patternistas.
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