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.

did you get the name “Red Brick” from:

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.

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. 

are your main influences:

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. 

artists/illustrators that inspire your work:

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..

you talk me through the design process:

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.

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.

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.

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)

penny sweets:

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’.

Bee Waits
readers purchase some lovely Red Brick?

can purchase directly from my online shop, available to access
through my website, 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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