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Tormented Textiles Podcast with Freddie Robins + Martina Margetts

8 October 2018

As you may know, this year is the fifteenth birthday of my brand, and we celebrated last month with a pop-up shop as part of Shoreditch Design Triangle, where we set ourselves the challenge of hosting fifteen events (I think we made it?!).

One of the main events was a Tormented Textiles panel discussion, where I was joined by textile artist Freddie Robins and contemporary craft expert Martina Margetts for a panel discussion on the trials and tribulations of living a creative life. As Martina pointed out at the start of the talk, we’re all connected by the Royal College of Art – both Freddie and Martina have taught there, and it’s where I studied for my MA in Mixed Media Textiles, which brought about the start of my career.

As artists and designers working with textiles, Freddie and I have had quite different, contrasting careers. Whilst I’ve spent the last fifteen years building a commercial brand, Freddie is an internationally renowned textile artist, educator, researcher and writer, whose work challenges the idea of knitting as craft. As one of my tutors at the Royal College of Art, and she gave me the confidence to approach the very first store to stock my Donna Dolls, Couverture and the Garbstore in West London – without Freddie’s encouragement, I would have probably been too shy! She’s continued to be an inspiration throughout my career, so I was thrilled that she could join me to reflect upon the last fifteen years.

As the editor of the Craft Council’s Crafts magazine for nine years and postgraduate teacher at the Royal College of Arts, critic and theorist Martina Margetts did an amazing job of leading the discussion, asking lots of thought-provoking, challenging questions.

What draws us all together – and what I hope comes through in our discussion – is our passion for crafts and making.

Here are a few soundbites starters, and you can listen to the full conversation and Q&A session on Soundcloud via the link below – special thanks to Alice Williams for the audio recording for this podcast, and also for my How to Start a Creative Business podcast with Yiying Wang of Noodoll.

There’s an issue of textile art not being valued as highly. We had a really big tapestry on display in the window [of the pop-up shop]. When the artist told me it was worth around £2,000, I thought ‘wow, that’s quite a lot of money’ – but if it were painting, no one would blink an eye. I think if people see how something’s made, and they see the time it takes to make it, they might have more respect for the value that’s put on it. – Donna Wilson

I don’t think there was anyone in Crafts Magazine’s Power List who worked specifically in textiles. The people at the top of the list, who were seen to be the most powerful, were writers – or if they were makers, they were makers who wrote and were very well published, like Edmund de Waal, or makers who make in hard materials. That tells me that textiles is still not received or heard as well as it should be. For me, that was a bit of a wake-up call. – Freddie Robins

The game is being raised all the time, from our release from a sense of automatic understanding of everydayness – because textile is textile – into a really carefully inflected appraisal of what textile is offering us. Even though we’ve got Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin, both heavily engaged in textile, we’re still not quite there yet. – Martina Margetts

I should also mention that Freddie collaborated with me on a gorgeous pair of gloves for my new Autumn Winter collection – the All the Time Gloves – and as a special treat, you can use the code TICKTOCK20 for 20% off via my online shop.

Donna x

Donna Wilson - All The Time Gloves - Caspian

All the Time Gloves - Appear Here

How to Start a Creative Business – Donna Wilson + Noodoll

3 October 2018

Thank you to everyone who joined us at our Shoreditch Design Triangle Pop-up shop last month to celebrate our 15th birthday – it was so great to meet so many of you!

One of my highlights was a session on ‘How To Start a Creative Business’ with my friend Yiying Wang, the creator of Noodoll. I met Yiying when I was studying at the Royal College of Art, and we’ve since worked together a few times, so it was really great to look back over the last fifteen years and reflect on how both of our businesses have developed and grown.

We had a full house, but for those of you who couldn’t make it we recorded discussion, along with the Q&A session afterwards – a big thank you to Alice Williams for making this possible! You can listen on Soundcloud via the link below – and if you have any questions for either Yiying or myself, leave them in the comments below.

And if you enjoy this, you might also enjoy listening to my Tormented Textiles podcast with Freddie Robins and Martina Margetts, also on Soundcloud.

Donna x

Donna Wilson & Yiying Wang

Donna Wilson & Yiying Wang

 

 

#mydonnawilson: Meet Pepper Schmidt

28 June 2018

#mydonnawilson is an interior inspiration series where each month we ask some of our favourite people to showcase our products in their homes. Not only does this mean we get to peek into some beautiful houses and apartments, but we also get to know a little bit about the owners – and their interior design tips.

This month’s influencer is blogger Pepper Schmidt, who’s been busy making-over the living room of her family home in the south of Germany…

My name is Pepper Schmidt.

I work in Print Media, but right now I’m on maternity leave. In my free time, I write a blog called Heimatbaum about living, travelling, and my family. We live in the south of Germany in a small village called Muhlhausen. Our house is surrounded by fields and trees, and we love to step out of the house to enjoy nature. I grew up here and I like to live in the countryside. Big cities like Heidelberg, Mannheim and Karlsruhe are easy to reach from here, so we have the benefit of both the peace of nature and the culture and shopping of the city.

My style changes so fast – it’s hard to say what it really is, as it is constantly flowing!

At the moment it is a mixture of vintage industrial, Scandinavian elements and some ethnic vibes. I think if you’re creating a personal home for four people, it’s not possible to have one constant style. Our two children live here, so they should also have an opportunity to add their own style. And of course my husband should also feel comfy with our interiors, so there is a combination of shades of pink, Star Wars, decorative toys and original design pieces.

#mydonnawilson - Pepper Schmidt

#mydonnawilson - Pepper Schmidt

My favourite room is definitely the living room.

It has an old door, a huge, cosy sofa and colourful spots everywhere. This is where we spend most of our time in the day, reading books, playing, or just cuddling on the sofa. I love how the room has changed from how it was at the beginning. It’s like a presentation of the things we love, as all our favourite items are displayed here.

My most treasured object is the old door in our living room.

When my favourite cafe in the neighbouring village closed last year, I was the lucky person who got the front door! I had always dreamed of owning this door,  but I never guessed it could happen. It originally came from Hamburg, and we managed to install it in our open-plan living room/kitchen area. Now the two rooms are separated by this beautiful piece of wood.

#mydonnawilson - Pepper Schmidt

#mydonnawilson - Pepper Schmidt

Most of the items I have are from flea markets or eBay.

I like used things with patina and signs of wear, and I love special things that nobody else has. For new design objects, I love the online shop Connox.

Right now I have a big crush on colourful interiors.

I’m also a huge fan of Dutch interiors as I love the brick walls, the old wood and their relaxed style. I’m really looking forward to returning to The Netherlands in August to get some new inspiration.

#mydonnawilson - Pepper Schmidt

#mydonnawilson - Pepper Schmidt

As for what’s next on my interiors shopping list, I had to think hard about that…

The only thing I can think of would be some original Egon Eiermann chairs for the dining table. I would also love to have a life-size Iron Man or Storm Trooper!

What makes a house a home? 

To me, it’s a combination of furniture that tells a story, self-made art and personal collections, like my Kokeshi dolls for example. I love clean interiors, but only to look at, not to live in. 

#mydonnawilson - Pepper Schmidt

#mydonnawilson - Pepper Schmidt

Any home can be beautiful if the owners just stick to their own taste and style.

If you like colour, use it. Don’t ever think about what others may think of your home. Only you and your family live there, so it should fit your needs and not a common trend.

Shop Pepper’s #mydonnawilson:

Charlie Monkey

Meddling Monkey

Mushroom Shaped Cushion

Round Balloon Cushion – Blue

Round Balloon Cushion – Orange

All photography by Pepper Schmidt.

You can see more of Pepper’s ever-evolving interior style on her website, and follow her on Instagram at @heimatbaum.

#mydonnawilson - Pepper Schmidt

#mydonnawilson: Meet Elodie Love

7 June 2018

#mydonnawilson is an interior inspiration series where each month we ask some of our favourite people to showcase our products in their homes. Not only does this mean we get to peek into some beautiful houses and apartments, but we also get to know a little bit about the owners – and their interior design tips.

We met this month’s influencer, Elodie Love, at the Maison&Objet tradeshow in Paris last year, and fell head over heels for her beautiful flower portraits on Instagram. Over to Elodie!

My name is Elodie and my family name really is Love!

I got this lovely name from my British husband when we got married in 2008. I work in the digital field and in my spare time I run a flower and interior blog since 2012, and I take pictures of flowers.

#mydonnawilson - Elodie Love

I have been living in Paris for over three years.

I live with my husband Stephen, our four-year-old daughter, Ella, and our cat, Kitsune. Before that, we lived in Germany for ten years. We live in a very old Parisian building near the Canal Saint Martin and overlooking a typical Parisian courtyard.

My style is very French, of course.

I have also been very much influenced by our time in Germany. We have, for example, painted all the floors of our apartment in various shades of grey, which is very untypical for France.

#mydonnawilson - Elodie Love

I like to incorporate animals into my interior style.

My flat is full of birds, butterflies, fish, squirrels, and also cats. I think that decorating with animals gives a fairy-like touch to your home which we sometimes very much need in our busy lives. It reminds me of the innocence of childhood and makes me smile. I like photography, particularly flower photography, and also have a passion for illustration and have many displayed around the flat. This is one of the reasons I love Donna Wilson’s designs.

My favourite room is my living room.

This is where we live, dine and also my office when I work when I am working from home. I like the light coming from the two big windows, and this is where I display my treasures, such as my ever-evolving collection of dried flowers.

#mydonnawilson - Elodie Love

#mydonnawilson - Elodie Love

The most treasured piece of furniture in my home is my glass cabinet.

This is where I display my glasses, vases and some of my dried bouquets. We bought it in Hamburg as a wardrobe for Ella when she was a baby, then later moved it to our living room in Paris.

My favourite object is my fabric bird called oiseau oiseau. I bought it at a fair for handmade products in Paris. It is a bird with a green cape, arrows and a bow. I instantly fell in love with it when I saw it the first time. It is not very useful, but very poetic.

I like to shop at flea markets.

I also like the interior shop Fleux in Paris which sources some great brands. Paris is full of interior shops that also sell smaller brands. I love the shop La Tresorerie near the Place de la Republique for useful but beautiful items and the shop Les Fleurs for more poetic and surprising finds.  I also shop online for antiques and to find more individual pieces.

#mydonnawilson - Elodie Love

#mydonnawilson - Elodie Love

I also love the French brand, Tse & Tse.

I have a paper light garland and a porcelain lamp from their shop and also some metallic shelves in my kitchen. They curate a small edit of items but they are always very well chosen, and their design is recognizable in a blink. I am a big fan and never tire of the pieces I buy from them.

Next up, I am dreaming about a pair of new deep blue silk curtains for our bedroom from Le Monde Sauvage, and a lamp from the French brand Wo & We.

As for what makes a home…

Flowers, always, both fresh and dried! And good friends, good food, good music, and of course all things pretty.

#mydonnawilson - Elodie Love

Shop Elodie’s #mydonnawilson:

Cyril Squirrel Fox

Fox Cushion – Orange

Squirrel Beaker

Trees Jug

Trees Plates – set of 4

All photography by Elodie Love.

You can see more of Elodie’s beautiful floral photography on her website, and follow her on Instagram at @madame_love.

#mydonnawilson: Meet Ilona, aka Mamoesjka

4 May 2018

#mydonnawilson is an interior inspiration series where each month we ask some of our favourite people to showcase our products in their homes. Not only does this mean we get to peek into some beautiful houses and apartments, but we also get to know a little bit about the owners – and their interior design tips.

So, without further ado, let’s meet this month’s #mydonnawilson tastemaker, Ilona!

My name is Ilona Zieltjens, and I’m a 34-year-old Dutch mother.

My partner Daniel and I have been together since I was 16 and he was 17, and have two sons – Tycho, 13, and Fender, 7. We all live together in Tilburg, a city in the province of North Brabant in The Netherlands.

I love to use my home as my test lab. If I haven’t painted anything for a few weeks, the paint tins literally call out to me from the closet. You can find me daily on Instagram under my second name, Mamoesjka.

Ilona #mydonnawilson

Ilona #mydonnawilson

You’ll often find me sitting on my pink home-made bench.

It’s my favourite spot in the house, where I write, scroll through Instagram and sit with family and friends. From my bench, I also have a clear view of the rest of the living room and the open-plan kitchen.

My favourite piece of furniture is…

The vintage cupboard that my partner and I bought it at a thrift store. I really loved it when I first saw it, but we both thought it was far too expensive (the cupboard was not in the best condition) and we left the shop without buying it. But soon I had second thoughts and we quickly went back again and bought it. We gave the little cupboard some love with oil and wood paste and I now think he’ll stay forever!

Ilona #mydonnawilson

I like to keep things simple.

I like a fresh white canvas decorated with vintage, design or handmade items, mostly in fresh or soft pastel colours. I’d much rather have one item that I really love rather than five things I just like. I don’t shop on impulse. I will always take my time before I buy something for my home.

I like to search the internet for new treasures.

I look for both new and second-hand items, and design pieces as well as less expensive finds. For me, it’s very important that they’re not things that everybody likes and buys. I want stuff that is unique and is available on a small scale. For that reason, I always search for small websites or designers that sell their own work. It’s so much more fun to make a small independent enterprise happy by purchasing some of their products than to buy something from a big retail chain.

Ilona #mydonnawilson

Ilona #mydonnawilson

My interior crush is…

I really love the home of Wunderblumen. She is such a great mother and takes the prettiest of pictures. I especially love her beautiful flower pictures. I like flowers but for some reason, I don’t buy them myself, and I can’t make such beautiful bouquets in my vases. So I really love to see these pictures and smell them from a distance.

My home wish list is not too long…

I change my furniture all the time and floors don’t like that! After seven years they’re not so pretty, so I think we’ll take some time to find a new floor this summer. I also have a bit of a thing for lamps. And chairs, and ceramics, and linen!

Ilona #mydonnawilson

Ilona #mydonnawilson

I like to do things my own way.

I think that’s my best tip I can give anyone. Make the choices yourself. Fill your home with items you really love and that make you happy. These days you can find inspiration everywhere. I like to scroll through Instagram and see all kinds of interiors, but I have to stay true to myself. Something I’ve learned over the years is to choose what makes you happy and don’t do what everyone else is already doing.

Shop Ilona’s #mydonnawilson:

Richie

Chuck Chipmunk

Cat Plate

Twigs Plate

Dove Jug

All photography by Ilona Zieltjens. Visit Ilona’s website and follow her on Instagram @mamoesjka_nl to be inspired by her clean yet quirky minimalist style.

Ilona #mydonnawilson

Ilona #mydonnawilson

How to wear a silk scarf

26 April 2018

Our silk scarves come in two sizes and three bold, beautiful prints. Made in the UK from 100% silk twill, they’ll add a pop of pattern and colour to any outfit. Here are just a few suggestions for how to wear a silk scarf.

How to wear a silk scarf

Donna Wilson - Flower Silk Neckerchief - Pink

Tie a small silk scarf around your neck girl-scout style.

 

Donna Wilson - Snake Silk Scarf - Pink

Wrap a large silk scarf around your neck and tie in a bow.

 

Donna Wilson - Snake Silk Neckerchief - Blue

Wrap a small silk scarf around your head prairie-style.

 

Donna Wilson - Flower Silk Scarf - Gold

Knot a large silk scarf loosely at the neck.

 

Donna Wilson - Snake Silk Scarf - Blue

Wrap a large silk scarf around your shoulders and tie at the front.

 

Donna Wilson - Flower Silk Scarf - Gold

Wrap a large silk scarf around your hair and channel a vintage look.

 

Donna Wilson - Flower Silk Scarf - Turquoise

Drape a large silk scarf across your shoulders for a lightweight cover-up.

Shop our collection of silk scarves here.