I'm practically tripping over myself to share our next designer interviewee with you! She is, simply put, brilliant. Her work is certainly quirky, most definitely surreal and yes, I would love to pile up one of her dinner plates, serve it to a friend and watch the horror unfold on her face as she reveals those beetles!!!
• Introduce yourself to us!
My name is Lou Rota and I'm a graphic designer who happens to use bone china as my canvas.
• Describe your style…
Eclectic, quintessentially British with a bit of a twist.
• What do you love about the medium you work in?
I'm very drawn to circles, so the fact that I put surface designs onto plates is perfect for me! … I also like the fact that they're not flat and have a bit of a curve, it's more interesting than a flat surface … and I like the fact that they can be practical or decorative or both.
• Where do you find your inspiration- who or what inspires you?
I mostly find inspiration in the natural world, in the colours and shapes of flowers, leaves, stones, twigs as well as insects, birds and other animals.
• How do you translate your inspiration into a design?
I take photos and play around with sizing. I print up an experiment sheet of decals first and then try out each size with different flowers to see what works best.
• How do you structure your working day?
Each day is different, but I always have to get my two daughters off to two different schools first, then walk our puppy, then three times a week I exercise - Zumba is my favourite - then by 10.30 I'm ready to work. I usually try to get the admin out of the way first and then go down to my garden studio to make things in the afternoon.
• We all get creative block. How do you combat it?
By getting as far away from computers and mobile phones as I possibly can…and ideally by going to a beach or taking the dog on a long walk to Wormwood Scrubs or the Heath.
• Share your favourite tool with us.
A pair of scissors made in Germany that I can't seem to find anywhere now.
• Describe your dream creative space…
It's high up on a cliff and has huge glass walls that are filled with sea and sky.
|Image via Best Home News|
• What lead to the moment that made you decide to sell your products professionally?
I was working as a producer of science and natural history programmes in TV, and I needed a change of career … I'd been making some decoupaged chairs in the evenings and, on a bit of a whim, I sent them to Liberty…to my delight they took them all…that's the moment I decided I could do it.
• What are the obstacles you've encountered on your journey so far?
It's been a huge learning curve. I took a degree in graphic design in the mid eighties. We learned to visualise type by hand, inconceivable now. I then had a 15 year gap where I wasn't involved in the design world, since then I've had to learn how to do everything digitally, so it's been quite a challenge.
|Flamingo & Blue Rose dinner plate|
• The biggest high of my career so far is…
When the set of four mismatched plates I designed for Anthropologie were the best selling item in their homewares dept.
• What's the biggest lesson you've learnt on your creative journey so far & what advice would you give to a newbie?
That it pays to invest in decent photography. Not only will it mean you get more press, but when you see the things you've made looking great, you take yourself more seriously too.
• What's next for you?
I'm hoping to have some beautiful birch wood trays made this year to add to my collection and perhaps some English linen tea towels. And I've got a new set of four plates for Anthropologie coming out in the autumn featuring a black swan, a preying mantis and two different fish.
• Take us on a crawl of your favourite shops. Where do you like to shop and why?
I'm not a big shopper if the truth be told. I like to think I shop according to the 'buy less, buy better' principle. I do love to buy fresh flowers and I'm lucky that I have Scarlet and Violet at the end of my road.
|Images © Scarlet & Violet|
I also adore Caravan, I think Emily, the owner has a fabulous eye for the unusual. And I'm very fond of car boot sales and places like Kempton antiques…guilt free shopping!
• What's on your bedside table?
A teetering pile of books - some of which I've read and some I haven't - at least three by Michel Faber who I'm v fond of at the moment and I'm currently reading Pompeii by Robert Harris. A glass milk bottle which I use as a water glass and some deliciously scented body lotion from Celia Worster …oh and a guide to Thailand where we're going this summer.
• iPhone, blackberry or android? And why?
I've got an android which I don't like but am about to change to an iPhone…I've just bought an iPad 3 and I'm going to have EVERYTHING magically connected to everything else and become super efficient! (Well, that's the idea anyway).
• Complete the sentence: "If money was no object…"
… I'd have a huge, walled garden chock full of scented flowers and fruit bushes and spend hours tending it. Oh, and I'd always fly first class.
• 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?
I'd want to spend my last ever meal (what's going to happen to me I wonder??) with my husband Gavin and a bunch of good old friends. We'd have champagne and a huge seafood platter of crab, lobster and oysters to pick away at for hours.
• Give us a song! Which one song helps you whistle while you work?
My life is noisy and busy so I prefer silence, birdsong and ambient noise when I work.
Thank you very much for allowing us into your world Lou! Wishing you all an egg-tastic Easter holiday and we'll see you on the flip-side.