Friday, 21 December 2012

Designer Spotlight: Red Brick

 I first came across Karen Mabon's brand Red Brick a couple of months ago creeping on the Godiva website. I am a complete and utter creep for a good scarf and am heavy in to some good illustration - so her collection of quirky and colourful silk scarves seemed like they were made for me. Like I am convinced that Mabon sat down and was like "There is going to be this girl called Claire out there who is going to find these scarves and she is going to LOVE THEM."  Red Brick features her bold illustrations on necklaces (cats, swimmers and acrobats) and scarves (penny sweets, scientists and bettles) and I am pretty much ready to have every single one of her pieces on my wall. In a frame. But mostly round my neck. Naturally I needed to know ALL the things.

Where did you get the name "Red Brick" from:
I'm from Scotland, but lived in London for a while. In 2011, I moved to the North of England again to set up my own label. I saw red bricks everywhere from the moment I drew back my curtains in the morning. I thought they represented the kind of honesty and quality I wanted to capture in my own label. After I thought of it, I drew the little factory logo and then there was no turning back.

How do you come up with ideas for your designs:
I never really switch off, so I'm always half thinking about new design ideas. They always come from really unexpected places, like flicking through a copy of National Geographic in a dentist's waiting room, or listening to someone else's conversation on a bus. 

Who/what are your main influences:
I'm quite influenced by British 'kitchen sink' novels like the 'Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' and 'Saturday Night Sunday Morning' - I like the romance of the everyday. In terms of fashion, Kate Spade is a big inspiration. When you step inside any one of her boutiques you really feel like you lose yourself in her wonderful, colourful world and forget everything else. 

Any artists/illustrators that inspire your work:
So many! I'm quite an obsessive person, so I tend to go through periods of looking intensely at one or two people, then move on and become obsessed with someone else. Although some artists manage to rise above this strange cycle I've developed and provide consistent inspiration - the Swedish textile designer Josef Frank, David Hockney, Eduardo Paolozzi, Ben Shahn, pretty much any children's book illustrator from the 1960s, Eric Ravilious, John Byrne..

Could you talk me through the design process:

Yes! It's a bit shambolic though. I've trained myself to be a bit more patient with things - when I think of something new, I just want to start drawing it up immediately, but in the past that's been a disaster because I've realised half way through that it's actually a terrible idea. (Abandoned designs include a man having an affair- who wants a scarf of that?) Now I sleep on ideas and if they're still good in the morning, they get the go-ahead. I'd like to say that I plan the design on a small scale but this isn't true, I literally just get a massive piece of paper and start drawing from one corner to another, working things out as I go. If the design is about something I don't know much detail about - the laboratory, for example - I might go to the library and take out a stack of books to leaf through so I can see what colour and shape things actually are.

Favourite thing to draw:
I love drawing insects and people because you can give them a bit of personality! I also like to draw fruit and furniture, and multiples of things. My least favourite things to draw (you didn't ask this but I'll answer it anyway) are bikes and water.

Do you have any favourite pieces (jewellery or scarf) in the collection and if so why:
I like the 'Robbery in a Sweet Shop' scarf because the colours are really vivid and no matter what colour I wear it with it seems to work. Also, whenever somebody says "ooh what a lovely scarf!" I really enjoy opening it out and watching their expression change to bemusement or confusion. My favourite jewellery piece is the Swimmer necklace - I love jewellery, but I actually don't wear it very often because I find it gets in the way of me living my life. I hate anything too fussy, and my worst nightmare is jewellery which catches on other people's clothing when you go to hug them. Argh! I love the swimmer because it's neat and streamline and I forget I've even got it on - bliss.

Must have accessory:
Obviously I love scarves for their multi-functional, austerity-friendly properties. But right now there are a few accessories I REALLY want by other designers - The Charlotte Olympia Christmas Pudding pouch, any of the beautiful embossed Comme Des Garcons wallet, the Solange Azagury-Partridge enamel Hotlips Ring, and the Kate Spade 'All The Trimmings' enamel bangle. (Enamel is great)

Favourite penny sweets:
Anything that is a miniature version of a real thing - ie, foam bananas, shrimps, fried eggs. Although I don't like that chewing gum that's meant to look like gunpowder or anything 'aniseed'.

Where can 
Bee Waits readers purchase some lovely Red Brick?
You can purchase directly from my online shop, available to access through my website, www.redbricknorth.co.uk. Alternatively, there is a full list of stockists on my website, so you can track down your nearest one!

Well - I pretty much want to buy all of these guys. How about you guys? Is it love or what?

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