Annabel Perrin is a designer to look out for. We predict big things. Her geometric prints have a clear mid-century influence, and she lists 1950s textile designers Marian Mahler and Lucienne Day among her design heroes. Annabel’s patterns range from architectural details to floral motifs, all expressed in a fresh colour palette and available across a range of homewares. We talked to Annabel to find out more, and sneak a peek at her new wallpapers…
Can you introduce yourself? Hello! I’m Annabel, the designer and brains behind Annabel Perrin, a homeware brand packed with colour and pattern.
Could you tell us a bit about your background? I trained as a textile designer and after working for a couple of years as an operations manager for a small independent business, I decided it was time to combine the two skills and develop my own creative brand. I went back to university to complete a Masters in design and it was during this time that I created my first home textile collection titled Architecture. Full of nervous excitement I launched the range six months later.
What was the reaction to your first collection? I’d had a lot of useful feedback from peers during my course before launching my Architecture collection, so I was confident people would like the designs. However, nothing feels better than someone wanting to buy a product you’ve spent so long making and it was a proud moment when I got my first sale. A few days later another order came in from Australia and I was thrilled! As with all new businesses I faced a lot of challenges but customers, family and friends have always been very positive and supportive about my plans and ideas, which spurred me on during times when I wondered if I was doing the right thing.
How would you describe your work and your aesthetic? The pattern designs and homeware I create are graphical and often geometric, with a nod to mid century design and colour. Each collection is fun and vibrant and full of vintage charm.
What inspires you? I’m mostly inspired by architecture, from architectural drawings and plans to the aesthetic appearance of buildings, such as their structures, patterns and light reflections. Up until now, my work has been influenced by British landmarks, but the new range I’m working on is inspired by a recent trip to Barcelona and I think people will notice quite a difference when it launches later this year.
Does where you live influence your work? Definitely! I live in Manchester, and as architecture is my main source of inspiration it’s an ideal place to be. There’s such an eclectic urban environment here, including a wonderful juxtaposition of old and new. I love that there is a cultural, creative community in Manchester too.
Are there any designers or artists you particularly admire? My favourite designers are the great 1950s textile designers such as Marian Mahler and Lucienne Day. I also remember studying Sonia Delauney closely when I was at school and even now her work makes an impression on me, due to her use of colour and shape.
Can you talk us through your creative process? I begin by setting myself a relaxed brief. This is where I think about what I would like to achieve from a new collection, particularly in terms of the look and feel of the range and also what new products I’d like to introduce. I’ll then decide on the colour scheme and start drawing and designing based on this. I’m a perfectionist and I experiment with colour, composition and scale several times over before finalising a design, to make sure it’s as fantastic as it can be! Then it’s time to create the final product. My fabrics are digitally printed locally in the North West and then handmade into cushions, lampshades and tea towels.
Do people ever show you things they have created with your fabrics? Yes, customers often send me photographs of my fabrics in their home. It’s great to see one of my fabrics made up into curtains and blinds and sometimes chairs too. A friend recently made me a keepsake bear from off-cuts of fabric from another project – he stays with me in my studio now.
We’ve heard that you’re working on a new collection of wallpapers. Can you tell us more about that? I’m unbelievably excited to be launching a range of wallpapers soon as it’s something I’ve wanted to do for so long. I have three wallpapers coming out this spring. Hemlock is one of the patterns I’m developing for paper. It’s a best-selling fabric, so I know it will be popular. I’m even introducing a new midnight colourway exclusively for this. The third wallpaper is called Glasshouse and it’s perhaps one for the brave, but my personal favourite. I love the bold acidic colours and think it will make a great statement in the home.
Does your own home reflect your work and mid century style? It will do eventually! Having moved in not too long ago I’m still putting my stamp on the place and there are still a few pieces of donated furniture dotted around. However, it’s full of colour and I’m gradually doing each room up, so it won’t be long before it’s the mid-century palace I dream of!
Can you describe your studio? I work from home and I’ve turned the spare room into my studio. Although it’s on the small side, it’s light and bright and has a huge built-in cupboard for storage, which is a godsend. I’ve installed a lot of extra shelving to store my fabrics and products, but thankfully there’s room for two tables; one to draw and make on and the other for my computer.
Do you use a sketchbook as part of your design process? I do have a sketchbook and it’s a bit of a mess if I’m honest! Most of the pages have been pulled out and slotted back in, as I like to have some pinned in front of me while I’m working. I use it mainly to document my thought process, gather research and plan the composition of new designs. When it comes to drawing a motif I prefer to work on a larger scale, so I have a big roll of paper for this purpose.
What’s your favourite part of the creative process? I don’t think I could pinpoint a favourite part as I enjoy it all. I have so many different responsibilities and roles within the business that I look forward to the days I can set aside for designing and making.
You’ve worked on a range of collaborative projects. Could you tell us more about those? I’ve been very fortunate to work on some fantastic projects, designing patterns for everything from street sculptures to boat sails. These projects are the reason I now class myself as a surface pattern designer as well as a textile designer. The Pontypool Patterns Project, with Broadbent Studio, was a particular highlight. I worked closely with the local community to create a series of location-inspired patterns for sculptural seating, which are now installed around Pontypool town centre.
Did you have a creative upbringing? Is your family artistic? Growing up I always enjoyed being creative. My mum dug out my old letters to Santa last Christmas and every year I asked him for a pad of paper! Although there are several artistic people in my family, as far as I’m aware I’m the first one to have made a career out of it. Having said that, my grandma used to have her own independent shop, selling fabrics and wallpapers by prestigious brands such as Sanderson and Osborne & Little. It’s obviously where my love for interior design comes from!
What’s your proudest achievement so far? It was about 18 months ago, when I was shortlisted for the Confessions of a Design Geek Bursary 2014, by award-winning blogger Katie Treggiden and a panel of industry experts. My business was still very young, so not only did it spread the word about my brand, it also boosted my confidence massively. I keep in touch with Katie and the other shortlisters and I’m so proud to be part of the Confessions of a Bursary Alumni!
To celebrate being a featured maker Annabel is offering a 10% discount on all sales in her Folksy shop Just enter the code ‘ANNABEL10’ on check out. The code is valid until Tuesday 10 March >>