Q & A’s with Textile Designer, Katie Charleson
I was lucky to meet the lovely Katie Charleson at an Elle Decoration party a year ago. She is an extremely talented screen printed homewares designer, committed to creating sumptuous, unique textiles. Always leading the design process with colour, her prints create cushions, throws and kitchen linens that are modern and bright. Katie is also in the bespoke trade, she is available for collaborations and bespoke commissions and projects.
Why textile design?
I have always loved texture, colour and art, and something about translating that onto fabric just speaks to me. I love the tactile quality of textiles and the hands-on nature of screen printing.
How would you describe your style?
Painterly and colourful and influenced by nature.
Who was your biggest influence when starting out and has that changed with time?
I took a lot of influence from high fashion prints of designers like Vivienne Westwood and Dries Van Noten in my early days. Recently though, I’ve been influenced by expressionistic, gestural painters and designers like Richard Diebenkorn, Sonia Delaunay and Joan Mitchell. I love their colours and shapes.
Who or what is your biggest style inspiration?
Joni Mitchell will always be a style hero of mine- although I don’t really dress like her. Maybe it’s more of an attitude!
Which country or period do you take most inspiration from?
At the moment, I am really inspired by Brutalist architecture and the Bauhaus movement, which is quite a departure from my recent floral and tropical collections, but will be a big influence on my new collection!
What has been your most favourite project to date and why?
Every time I get to work one on one with a client to make a bespoke piece I really enjoy it. I love creating things with my own style and flourish but the parameters of the client’s vision adds an extra challenge and perspective on things. It’s an exciting way to work. Recently I designed some fabric to reupholster a mid-century arm chair and I cannot wait to see the bold colour choices we made on the chair in its space!
What is your proudest achievement (work or personal) to date?
Starting my own printed homewares company, Katie Charleson, has been my proudest achievement. The collaborations, projects and prizes I have enjoyed along the way have been a wonderful marker of how I have been able to build up the business and develop it as time goes on.
Would you admit here to your most embarrassing moment so far?
I worked as a print intern at Diane Von Furstenberg in New York after I graduated. We used to have to use some pretty smelly print chemicals for fabric samples on occasion and I used to cover my face up with some crazy fabrics to keep the smell away. My friend Matty Bovan has some pretty grumpy looking photos of me from the time- not my finest hour!
If you could design a project for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you design?
I’d love to work with my mum and dad to make them their dream house. The one they’ve got just now we all love, but I’d love to be able to give back to them for all the support over the years!
Let us in to your world, a typical day?
Most days I work in my studio in London. I share it with other artists and designers, so it’s a fun and inspiring place to work. Every day what I’m working on might be different, but I love the variety. My favourite days are when I get to design and screen print. I might get to paint and draw for a new project or collection and come up with ideas, or experiment with new colours for one of my fashion clients. Or I might be in the print studio screen printing a fabric order, getting to be really hands on and using big pieces of machinery and technical equipment.
What personal item in your life could you really not live without?
My diary/notebooks! I really love writing things down by hand, I think it helps me remember and plan. I never throw them out and I keep them all on my shelves at home. I think they give an interesting glimpse into what was going on at the time.
Dessert island crisp! If you had only one choice of ‘bar snack’ to take along with you, what would it be?
I am partial to wasabi peas.
Where would your favourite place be to dine?
The best meal I ever had was New Years Day, Sri Lanka 2006, on a cliff top overlooking the Indian Ocean. I could definitely eat there again.
Coffee or tea, where and how?
I gave up caffeine in May so I love a mint tea in the morning now.
Reading right now?
The Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov.
Just one box set on loop, which?
Its always sunny in Philadelphia.
If it’s a special occasion I love a wee dram of any Islay single malt.
Sweet or savoury, dessert or cheese board?
Cheese board, every time.
Sinner or saint, would you confess here to a dirty hidden shameful eating habit, i.e., Pot Noodle, Krispy Kreme, Greggs?
I’m lucky in that I’m not much of a sweet tooth but my downfall would have to be crisps.
If not a textile designer, what other passion would you have loved to make a career of?
I always had an interest in acting and music- I always probably would have ended up working somewhere in the arts (runs in the family!)