Jessica Graham in Haslemere - Surrey's best interior designers
PUBLISHED: 15:28 12 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:01 20 February 2013
With her bold, quirky and colourful designs, it's no wonder that Jessica Graham's wallpapers, cushions and prints are fast becoming the new must-have for kids' bedrooms. JANET DONIN meets this young, up-and-coming Haslemere designer
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2010
With her bold, quirky and colourful designs, its no wonder that Jessica Grahams wallpapers, cushions and prints are fast becoming the new must-have for kids bedrooms. JANET DONIN meets this young, up-and-coming Haslemere designer
Name: Jessica Graham
Oriental dolls, bunny rabbits and the jungle are perhaps not the first things that spring to mind when deciding how to decorate the kids bedrooms. But these random motifs have been key to the success of Haslemere-based designer, Jessica Graham.
Although only 25, Jessica has already notched up an award for her bright and quirky cushions, while the bold prints on her canvases, wallpapers and framed prints are much in demand.
I didnt originally intend to focus on designs for children, says Jessica with a laugh. But it seems my rather scribbly style and use of colours appeals to adults for their childrens rooms.
Having spent her own childhood in Hong Kong and Japan, and later taken a gap year in Uganda before university, Jessica has a host of images and eclectic treasures to spark her imagination.
When I start a new collection, I just rummage though my box of treasures or photograph album for inspiration, she says. I also love looking around toy museums the Pollock toy museum in London is a favourite haunt. After several weeks, my sketchbook is packed with drawings of ideas, which Ill whittle down to a few key motifs.
Then comes the fun part of reproducing the images on paper with acrylic paints and inks before cutting and pasting them into random arrangements to create my finished design. I could do this on the computer, which would be less fiddly, but I think my hands-on approach is more natural.
When Jessica completed her degree course in surface design at Londons University of Arts, she had no intention of working for herself. Instead, she worked on various projects with leading interior designers like Russell Sage and Danielle Proud and as an assistant stylist on the Sunday Times magazine.
Then I realised that by going down this route, none of my own designs would ever get used, she says. So the decision was made to go solo. Initially, I worked on jungle-themed or fairy murals for kids rooms, which were labour intensive but very satisfying. I also hand-painted wallpaper to commission, but this too was time-consuming and expensive.
Then, with the onset of the recession, I began developing my ideas on a smaller scale for canvases and cushions. I painted all the canvases by hand and they sold quite well but the cushions, which were made in India, were an instant success.
To get her work out there, Jessica initially took her merchandise to local craft fairs at Loseley House in Guildford and Ramster House in Chiddingfold, as well as local school fairs. However, it soon became clear she needed more exposure, so taking the plunge she exhibited at the prestigious Top Drawer event at Olympia last September.
I had no idea what to expect, confesses Jessica. But I was lucky enough to get the award for Best New Childrens Product for my cushions and I took lots of orders as well.
Looking at her designs of cute dolls holding hands or the floppy eared bunny with his friend the ladybird, you can see the appeal. And, apparently they make children laugh, too.
This year sees Jessicas dream unfolding as she expands her merchandise to include bedding, bags, aprons and towels, which she would love to have on sale through major department stores. My ambition is to create a brand identity that is all my own, she says. A dream that seems to be well on its way to becoming a reality.