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Blog Category: Home Inspiration

#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

#mydonnawilson: Meet Nicki, aka @siglinchen

10 April 2018

#mydonnawilson is a new interior inspiration series where 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 any further delay, here’s this month’s homeowner, Nicki, aka @siglinchen on Instagram!

I live in Berlin with my husband and our three girls…

By day, I´m a paediatrician, working in a small surgery in Berlin. It can be quite challenging especially during wintertime, but I’m very happy with my job and I really enjoy working with children.

In my spare time I’m trying to learn more about photography. I ‘ve taken a few courses to improve my skills, but I still need a lot of practice with my new camera (Canon EOS 6D)! I like to decorate our home with colours and flowers, and I’m often inspired by my exchanges with other of interior lovers via Instagram.

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

Home is…

It’s really two homes! An old apartment building in Berlin, and a modern house just outside Stockholm.

Our rental apartment in Berlin is in an old building with high ceilings, stucco ornaments and creaking floorboards. Most of the interiors are inherited from our parents’ homes, and pieces we found in second-hand shops. A lot of the furniture is made from teak wood – I love the 50s – 60s feeling you get with it.

Our home in Sweden is a very modern house with big windows, straight lines and mostly interiors is modern interiors. The house is furnished in a very simple way because I’m afraid of destroying the straight feeling of the house. If I’m honest, I would prefer to have no furniture at all because I really love the pure architecture of the house – but this is not practical of course. Even though our house is tiny, it feels much bigger. The architect did a very good job and has used every single square meter very effectively. The house is surrounded by a big garden. We planted a lot of flowerbeds with mostly perennial flowers. I’m at my happiest when sitting on my knees in the flowerbeds with my hands deep in the soil.

Although right now our family are all living together in Berlin, it changes from year to year. Next year my husband will work in Sweden again, and I’ll stay on in Berlin with the kids until our oldest daughter has finished school. It might sound complicated and not that easy to juggle two homes and three children, but my family is quite used to it. We’ve been living like this since 2004 and it’s working very well for us.

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

My favourite room is…

Our kitchen in Berlin. It’s the room I spent most of my spare time in right now. In contrast to the open kitchen in our house in Sweden, I can close the door to the kitchen, turn the music up while preparing dinner and enjoy a couple of minutes to myself. I really enjoy this evening ritual. The kitchen is also the room where most of our family activities take place during the day. And in the evening my husband and I sit around the kitchen table drinking our evening coffee, talking about the day and doing some work. We hardly ever use our living room – except on Saturday nights when it’s movie time for the whole family.

I love gardening

I’m interested in all kind of flowers but am particularly fascinated by old-fashioned perennial flowerbeds. I grew up in the plant nursery of my grandma, so I guess that’s why I still enjoy having as many flowers as possible around me.

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

My most treasured object is…

My teak wooden desk in Berlin. I found it in a second-hand shop in Hudiksvall in the north of Sweden. It was in fantastic shape with no scratches at all and a really good price. I was so happy to have found such a bargain and I made the decision to buy it immediately. It had been snowing outside and the ground was icy. As my friend helped me carry the desk to my car, we slipped and the desk fell on the ground. The entire front of the desk is now covered in scratches, but nevertheless, it has become my absolute favourite piece of furniture in my home.

My interior style is…

It’s a mixture of playful colour on one hand and pure, minimal style on the other hand.

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

My top tips for vintage finds…

I have to admit that I don’t spend much time and money in hitting and buying interior design objects anymore. We bought most of the furniture for our house in Sweden (the String shelves, the Montana shelves, the HAY table, chairs and sofa) at Valamagasinet in Uppsala.

In Berlin, most of our furniture was found in second-hand shops or has been inherited. I have two favourite stores in Berlin, which I have to mention. One is called ‘La Lampisterie’. It’s located in Prenzlauer Berg. It’s run by a French guy who has a real passion for vintage lamps. He has a fantastic selection which he renovates by himself. We bought most of our lamps there, and I drop by from time to time to see if there is a new lamp waiting for me. The other shop, also in Prenzlauer Berg,  is called ‘Chairs’. You can find the best vintage chairs there – it’s where we bought all of our original Eames fibreglass chairs.

My biggest interior crush is…

Garlands! I love to decorate my home with them, and not only if there is a party or something to celebrate.

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

The item I covet the most is…

An Akari 10A floor lamp, designed by Isamu Noguchi.

At the top of my shopping list is…

More Eames chairs! We want to expand our little collection. Most of all we are looking for odd and rare colours. On a more practical note, we also need a few things like a bigger bed for our youngest daughter and a bunk bed for our middle child.

It’s what’s inside that counts…

It might sound corny, but from my point of view, it’s the people living in the house who make it feel like home.

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

#mydonnawilson, Nicki aka @siglinchen

Shop Nicki’s #mydonnawilson:

Fox Cushion – Yellow

Fee & Fish

Large Sweetie Cushion – Pink

Meg Cushion – Cream

Sausage Dog Bed Set – Cream

All photography by Nicki. You can see more of her beautiful homes on her Instagram account, @siglinchen.

Spring Summer Launch Party

6 February 2018

Our new Spring / Summer collection is a playful celebration of pattern and colour, exploring new textures and techniques.

We toasted the launch of our new collection at our Pop-Up Shop (alas, no more!) in the company of press and stockists. A big thank you to fiddler Lewis Murray and his musicians who provided a soundtrack of Scottish folk music, to Pickled Plates for their Donna Wilson-inspired nibbles, and to Taran Wilkhu for capturing photos of the evening.

Here’s a quick tour of the collection…

Ceramic plates, jugs and mugs

Our familiar Dove, Tree and Acorn motifs have been added to bone china dinner plates, jugs and mugs to make beautiful tableware with which to dine with friends and family. And in a new direction for 2018, we’ve expanded our ceramics collection to include a series of handmade, shaped plates. Perfectly imperfect, each features a woodland design impressed into the clay, finished with a matte glaze for an earthy, organic touch.

Shop new ceramics.

Spring Summer 2018 Ceramics

Spring Summer 2018 Ceramics

Balloons and bonbons

Inspired by childhood nostalgia and children’s birthday parties, this season’s signature shaped cushions take the shape of colourful balloons and bright bonbons – the perfect pillows to give you the sweetest of dreams!

Shop balloons and bonbons.

Donna Wilson Spring Summer 2018 - Balloons

Donna Wilson Spring Summer 2018 - Bonbons

Silk scarves – coming soon!

New for 2018, these luxurious, 100% silk scarves complement our existing fashion collection with a pop of colour and pattern. Printed onto silk twill fabric, Donna’s bright and colourful motifs come in three designs, each one in two sizes, with two colourways to choose from.

Donna Wilson Spring Summer 2018 - Silk Scarves

Donna Wilson Spring Summer 2018 - Silk Scarves

Lionel and Richie

Not one but two lions join our ever-growing animal gang this season. Knitted from soft 100% lambswool yarn and crowned with felted manes, these friendly cats are fitting kings of the jungle.

Shop Lionel and Richie.

Donna Wilson Spring Summer 2018 - Lionel and Richie

Pickled Plates

Behind the scenes of our photoshoot: Meet Karen Nicol

6 December 2017

We photographed our AW17 sweater collection in the London home of textile artist Karen Nicol, which she shares with her husband, collage artist Peter Clark. I spoke to Karen to discover more about her beautiful house and her inspirational career.

Firstly, can tell us a little about your home?

We live just up the road from Hampton Court Palace in a place called East Molesey, thirty-five minutes from Waterloo but with meadows and rivers close by to walk the dog. The house is really beautiful, built in 1857 and spaced over four floors; we’ve lived here for twenty-two years.
My husband is a collage artist and now that the kids have left home we use two floors as studios, workshops and showrooms, and the other two floors for living – it’s bliss.

You use colour in a really interesting way in your own home – can you talk a little about this?

The house is all painted white but we really love colour so the refreshing slabs of colour here and there make differences in the character of each room, the light in the house is wonderful so it makes the colours sing.

You have lots of collections of objects – can you tell us a little more about these?

Pete and I are slightly obsessive in our love for car boots and flea markets, finding materials for our work and inspiration in a miscellany of vintage finds. I find materials that, chances are, no one else will be using, like old Belgian black, shiny straw milliner’s fabric or vintage matte white sequins in the shape of wings… I even have a collection of teeth that one day I want to use to replace pearls in a piece inspired by Russian Tsars. There is also the technical inspiration in beautiful traditional embroidery, everything from old fagoted collars to bits of old embroidered cushions. Then there is the pure visual inspiration of things that just look beautiful, like our matte white pots with their multitudes of simple smooth textures. Our house becomes a big white canvas to visually play with all these ‘found’ visual treats. I tend to build little scenarios in my studio – I spend so many hours in here it’s great to have a little grouping of things that make me smile.

How did your career in textiles begin?

My mother was an embroiderer, milliner, upholsterer, painter and dressmaker and flower arranger so I was around it all my childhood, she made my sister and me our own pattern blocks to make our own clothes when we were 13 and we made everything we wore, so it was probably pretty well set from there.
I went to Manchester Metropolitan University to do a BA and at first wanted to do something with a bit more street-cred than embroidery, like fine art, but in the end the diversity of textiles couldn’t be beaten so I did my BA in embroidery.

I then went to the Royal College of Art where, as there was no embroidery/mixed media course at that time, I did my MA in knit and embroidered on it, falling in love with embroidered fashion. Leaving the RCA, I put my work in a suitcase and went off to Paris (to impress a new boyfriend with my courage!) and managed to get some orders for my embroidered knitwear. I put my contact details in the labels and was subsequently approached by a German fashion designer who had bought a piece She flew over to London the next day and we worked together for the next ten years, giving me an amazing opportunity to learn the ropes.

Does your work have a signature style, and how would you describe this?

I’m not sure you can see your own signature style, but I suppose when you look over my fashion, interiors and gallery work you can see they have all the same hand. I hope mine has a light touch and a bit of irreverence.

What inspires you?

Everything! So much inspires me, changing all the time. I carry a notebook and camera everywhere and record anything that I like visually so my archives of images and inspiration are huge and can be anything – a plant, a bit of street style, a bit of wood and of course hundreds of artists.

As a textile artist, you’ve collaborated with so many prestigious brands and artists – do you have any particular favourites?

Collaborations are fantastic. You can be given amazingly comprehensive briefs, or something like ‘I want something funky in silver’, but they constantly push you out of your comfort zone, into the unknown.
These are my favourites:
– When non-embroiderers will unknowingly ask for things which can’t be achieved with normal embroidery techniques and suddenly you have to start being inventive to make it happen. Then you find ways of working you can develop for other jobs and so it goes on…
– Betty Jackson once showed me an image of water droplets running down a window pane, an effect she wanted on blouses… glass beads just didn’t do it so I ended up dripping resin on fabric…and then later I used this technique and trapped photos in the resin for a series of fish I did for a gallery show.
– Clements Ribeiro wanted Mexican-inspired beaded skirts for a ‘Frida Khalo meets Singapore whorehouse’ collection but I had to be able to bead the whole skirt in an hour! I found I could buy sequin film and cut my own sequins and machine them down. I later found I could develop this and shape the film with my iron and create large flowers and feathers for swans.

Shop our sweater collection here.
View the campaign lookbook here.

You can read an extended version of our interview with Karen in the new issue of MYO magazine, Volume 2, available to order now – or subscribe to MYO to have two issues a year delivered straight to your door.

Behind the scenes of our photo shoot: Meet Thorsten van Elten

11 October 2017

We’ve had lots of questions about the house that provided the beautiful backdrop for our new homeware and accessories collection. It’s the home of my friend Thorsten van Elten, so I crept behind the scenes to quiz him on his impeccable sense of style so we can all steal a little piece for ourselves…

Hello Thorsten! Can you tell everyone a little bit about your design background and how we came to meet?

I set up my own business in 2002, producing and distributing products by young UK based designers. Donna came to see me after her graduation from the Royal College of Art with, if I remember well, a rug made out of glove fingers. That must have been in either 2002 or 2003, I guess. We somehow stayed in touch, and when I opened my London shop in Warren Street in 2005 I started selling Donna’s dolls and all her other wonderful creatures. After that, we were studio neighbours in Bethnal Green for several years after I told her a unit was available in the building so we saw each other fairly regularly –  sometimes even in the shared toilets on the third floor having a chat and a moan how freezing the building was. Coincidentally my partner studied and graduated with you at the RCA, so our paths would have eventually crossed anyway.

How would you describe your style?

I used to call it eclectic before that word became such a cliché, so I guess you could call it “playful modern”.

Our AW17 shoot in the home of Thorsten van Elten

You have an online shop selling all kinds of beautiful design objects. How do you curate your product selection?

I’ve always had the rule that if I wouldn’t have it in my own house I won’t sell it. It may not be the most commercially-savvy attitude, but I have to love what I sell in order to sell it – otherwise I should have become a car dealer or estate agent and earn more money.

What are your favourite design classics that YOU own?

That’s like asking which one is your favourite child… I’m very proud of my original A0-sized 1972 Munich Olympic games posters designed by Otl Aicher (as seen hanging above the orange sofa).

Which upcoming designers should we watch out for?

Since I no longer produce products I’m not as in the loop as I used to be, so I guess it’s more like which designers’ products would I love to have in my house. I love Daniel Emma from Australia but then they are good friends of mine so I may be a little biased, and clearly Jonna Saarinen who designed the wonderful Wir machen Urlaub Tea Towels for me, based on her childhood holidays in Germany. I’m also a big fan of Ian McIntyre who does beautifully simple ceramics, as well as Jono Smart.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’ve recently moved from London to the East Sussex countryside and now have a large garden which provides me with endless inspiration and joy. I can’t go to a nursery without buying at least one new plant, to the point that one lady who worked at the nursery asked me if I had a plant addiction. And since I now mainly sell German/German-inspired products, I try to go to Germany as often as I can to visit flea markets and explore new places and new regions.

Our AW17 shoot in the home of Thorsten van Elten

More about the house – where is it, what’s it like? Describe what it was like when you found it!

The house is a late 1970s bungalow in the East Sussex countryside, somewhere between Battle and Bexhill, about a 10-minute drive to the sea. It’s been added to in the 90s by the previous owner who was an architect, so it’s done in keeping with the style of the house. It’s split-level, and pretty much open plan with white painted breezeblock walls and a large terrace and garden. It had been rented out for about 10 years so the garden was totally overgrown and the house covered in ivy. The inside also looked a little sad and unloved with all the wrong furniture. Strangely enough, we know the lady who built the house with her ex-husband (she’s a neighbour’s sister) who’s been for lunch and loves the way the house and garden look now.

Do you have a favourite room?

I’ve always dreamt about having a ‘conversation pit’, a lowered seating area, so when I walked into my current house and saw it had one it was love at first sight. It’s particularly cosy in the winter when the wood burner is on. I’m a very lucky man.

We’ve had a lot of questions about your sofa! Can you tell us where it’s from?

It’s a Cuba Sofa by Cappellini which I bought more than 20 years ago when I ran a Cappellini & Christopher Farr shop in Westbourne Grove, West London. I lived in a third-floor flat with a narrow staircase, and the only way I could get a big sofa up there was if I bought it in sections. I had it re-upholstered when I moved into the current house in a burnt orange velvet by Raf Simons for Kvadrat. It wasn’t cheap, but I spend a lot of time on the sofa and it now looks totally new, so it’s money well spent.

Our AW17 shoot in the home of Thorsten van Elten

Our AW17 shoot in the home of Thorsten van Elten

And also your big prints – where did you get them, and where can we buy them?!

The really big (green) one behind the sofa is an original 1972 Munich Olympics poster by Otl Aicher. He designed the entire Olympics, from graphics to staff uniforms to the mascot – everything. I also have a few posters which he designed as an identity for the Bavarian town of Isny. Everything is based on simple black and white pictographs. I the big sun print behind the orange sofa at VitraHaus last year. It’s from the Alexander Girard exhibition. And then there are quite a few East German film and educational posters from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. I have a large selection of those available for sale on my website.

How do you find such unique pieces?

You’re forever scarred once you’ve had a shop. You find things everywhere, turn over plates to check the maker’s mark, look for stickers or engravings on products, make notes in other shops when you see something interesting. You never really stop but that’s not a bad thing. I also love flea markets and vintage fairs.

What’s your favourite design object in your home, and what’s the story behind it?

Oh, I think that changes on a fairly regular basis. At at the moment I’m in love with my new Anna Vase by Daniel Emma which was a birthday present they brought with them when they visited last month. My other favourite item is a mirror by Belgian designer Lucile Soufflet which I tried to produce for her about 10 years ago but it was just too complicated to make it commercially viable. But I had to have one so bought one from her and loved it ever since.

A huge thank you to Thorsten (pictured below, second from left) for lending us his home, and to my fantastic photo-shoot team, photographer Gareth Hacker and assistant Amelia Pemberton.

You can find out even more about Thorsten – and shop his selection of beautiful design objects – on his website and shop our new AW17 collection online now.

Our AW17 shoot in the home of Thorsten van Elten

The Pennan Collection

26 September 2017

Donna takes us behind the scenes of her new woven throws and cushions, inspired by childhood memories of her most treasured place, Pennan.

Traditional techniques

The Pennan throws and cushions are woven in the UK, in a small mill in Bristol. Made from 100% lambswool, the Pennan design is based on traditional handwoven weaving techniques, and is inspired by a small Scottish fishing village on the Aberdeenshire coast near where I grew up.

A village frozen in time

Pennan is a unique place. Nestled into the surrounding cliffs, it can never get any bigger. It seems to have been frozen in time. My grandma used to take me there as a girl, and we’d spend hours walking along its long pebbly beach, collecting stones and sea glass worn smooth by the waves and exploring the abandoned fishing boats. Even now, Pennan is my most treasured place. It feels so remote, a million miles away from the chaos of London life!

Pennan, photograph by Colin Heggie

Pennan, photo credit Colin Heggie

Fruits of the Sea

The Pennan design, with its exaggerated floats and strands of chunky wool, is reminiscent of the sea’s waves, and its muted shades of green and yellow are inspired by the beautiful colours of the landscape of North East Scotland.

Donna Wilson - Pennan Throw Green Yellow

On location

Pennan is also the village where the film Local Hero was shot in the 1970s. It’s a story about a rich American oil company employee who is sent to a fictional version of the village, Ferness, to buy up the town for his company, spelling the end of traditional village life.

Our range of Pennan throws and cushions is online now.

Pennan, photo credit Colin Heggie

Pennan photo credit: Colin Heggie