Happy Friday one and all! It's that time of the week again where we hang up our working hats (unless you're self-employed that is!) and turn our minds to catching up on all the domestic stuff we abandoned during the week. Or not. In any case, we suggest you put your feet up for five and enjoy our next instalment of Curb today with knitted upholstery designer Melanie Porter...
• Introduce yourself to us!
I'm a reformed fashion designer (knitwear) who now creates on off bespoke knit covered furniture.
• Describe your style...
I take old, and unloved furniture and reinvent them by covering them in an individually handknitted fabric incorporating colour and texture to produce unique pieces of furnishing for the home.
• What do you love about the medium you work in?
I've always been a bit of a knitting geek, I love that my work essentially starts as a piece yarn that I can do absolutely anything with. There are no restrictions as to colour, pattern or texture.
• Where do you find your inspiration- who or what inspires you?
For textures I often look to vintage knitting patterns for inspiration, I have a collection of 1950's childrenswear patterns in particular. For general inspiration I love the decor8 blog which is always showcasing exciting designers work that inspire me to work harder and try to be more creative. Inspiration for colours often come from a client's own home - a rug, cushion or some tiles on a fireplace.
• How do you translate your inspiration into a design?
I draw everything before starting so that I have a plan, and then make countless changes to it whilst working.
• How do you structure your working day?
I try to get all my emails and general paperwork done first thing in the morning (my alarm goes off at 6.30) so that I can concentrate on the fun bit for the rest of the day.
• We all get creative block. How do you combat it?
I'll go and find a new chair to work on. A new shape always inspired me to want to try something slightly different which I can take back to the piece that I have been struggling with.
• Share your favourite tool with us.
Very un high-tech - Knitting needles.
• Describe your dream creative space…
My mother works in a large converted chapel with high ceilings, lots of light, tons of space (and a small living area so that you can hole yourself up there for a few days and work late). Unfortunately the general dust and fluff produced by upholstery and knitting doesn't work very well in a shared space with a screen printer.
|Image found via PlumSiena|
• What lead to the moment that made you decide to sell your products professionally?
As a fashion designer I was missing the act of physically making things so I started restoring furniture and making my own fabric for the covers in my spare time. One piece got featured in the press and suddenly people were paying me for them.
• What are the obstacles you've encountered on your journey so far?
The biggest obstacle for me living in London has been space. I worked from home for as long as possible in order to keep my overheads down.
• The biggest high of your career so far is...
Opening my 12 day pop-up shop in Covent Garden.
• What's the biggest lesson you've learnt on your creative journey so far & what advice would you give to a newbie?
Be nice to everybody! - The people who you consider your biggest competition are going through the same as you and you can be extremely helpful to each other.
• What's next for you?
This week I'm working on a collaboration for the Queens Jubilee with Natuzzi.
• Take us on a crawl of your favourite shops. Where do you like to shop and why?
I'm really not a shopper. I go to Cockpit Arts open studios for my christmas shopping every year where you can buy direct from designer makers. I love browsing at Sunbury antiques market - dreaming of the day I have space for an antique butchers block. (we're right there with you Melanie!)
• What's on your bedside table?
My mobile phone, a bedside lamp and a pile of magazine tears that I take from the sunday papers each week, but don't get round to filing.
• iPhone, blackberry or android? And why?
Blackberry - because I hate learning how to use new technology.
• Complete the sentence: "If another life, I…"
Would chose a career that can be explained in one word.
• You're planning your last ever meal and celebrating with a dinner party. You have 6 seats around your table-who would you invite to join you and what would you serve up? (it can be anyone dead or alive).
Nikki de Saint Phalle and Claus Oldenberg as people who have inspired me, John Simpson and Nelson Mandela as people who I think would have interesting dinner table chat, my boyfriend and I. I'd probably serve a risotto - just because I think I make good risotto!
• Give us a song! Which one song helps you whistle while you work?
Shamefully it would be Neil Diamond - Coming to America. It just reminds me of growing up in my family.
Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to chat to us Melanie-your designs truly are a marvel and will no doubt inspire many of our yarn obsessed readers to get the needles out! If you'd like to hear more from Melanie, you can find her blog here, purchase your very own piece of furniture here or contact her here.