I have some lovely chaps over on the blog today, Keith and Mark from one of my favourite brands, Mini Moderns
. Fun, eclectic and completely original is best to describe their style. I am a big fan of theirs and am so proud of their success over the years. I adore their quirky designs as they just get better and better. Their wallpapers are always so inspirational with a feeling of nostalgia. Here they spend a little time answering a few questions.
When did you realise you had a passion for design?
When I was very young I was always really good at drawing and would design alternative record covers for my brother’s and sister’s record collections. I always dreamt of being able to do this as a career. When you are young everything is inspiring so it felt like I was bombarded with creativity from an early age, my sister was also artistic so I think it rubbed off on me too. She would do amazing interior designs in her bedroom from large murals to what we would now call upcycling. Taking junk shop finds and customising things to her taste. I then went through the usual route of foundation course onto a degree in Graphic design but my passion was always textiles and pattern. When I left college I combined my skills and with my interests, working as a graphic and pattern designer in the fashion industry.
Mark’s interest in design also started with a love of album cover graphics especially Peter Saville’s work for Factory Records. In those days covers were much more tactile than cd covers or downloadable graphics therefore from an early age Mark had an appreciation of print quality and interesting production techniques with paper. When he was a student Mark earned summer money by teaching himself to wallpaper (a skill which was to prove useful to us later) He would also decorate for friends and family, often giving advice on colour schemes and interior design, aided by his vast collection of Habitat catalogues, which are now at Mini Moderns HQ. Ranging from 1971, which is a particular favourite of us both. After graduating Mark was the first of the Mini Moderns team to set up an independent designer-maker business, creating home furnishings which sold in Heal’s and Harvey Nichols.
Where do your inspirations come from?
We always say this, but it’s true, we take inspiration from everywhere, It can be from TV shows we watched when we were younger, holidays as children, toys, and vintage textile designs. We don’t have a decade that we are most interested in – we are very eclectic in the way we work. We may be inspired by something from the 1950’s for example but mix it up with something from say the 1970’s and colour it up in contemporary colours.
Our work always manages to look familiar but totally new at the same time, I think it is easy to spot a Mini Moderns print design.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
This year has been an incredible year for Mini Moderns, as well as our online shop achieving sales, we could never have imagined 6 years ago when we started, that we are also starting to be recognised as a brand. We have steadily expanded our collections and have had an amazing response. This year we were also nominated for the British Design Awards in the Best British Design Brand category which was an amazing accolade when we saw who we had been shortlisted with.
What do you hope to achieve in 5 years time?
We would hope that Mini Moderns would continue to grow and that we would continue to gain in reputation, both at home and internationally but without losing our personal touch. We would like to be able to fund all the ideas we currently have to expand the brand, which could also mean exciting collaborations like the recent ones with Clothkits, Rob Ryan, Rug Designer, Brume, Magpie, London Transport Museum, Transport for London, Southbank Centre and Courtauld Gallery. Eventually we would like a physical Shop as well as the online version, as we always get a great response to the quality of our products when customers actually see them in the flesh.
What famous artists/designers do you admire or inspires you the most?
In terms of pattern we are inspired by designers from all design periods ranging from Omega workshop/the Bloomsbury set from the turn of the last century, Lucienne Day, David Parsons, Marian Mahler, Alexander Girard, Robert Stewart, the Festival Pattern Group, Celia Birtwell, Ossie Clark, Susan Williams-Ellis, Hilde Smith, Sir Terence Conran to name a few.
In five words how would you describe yourself?
It is really difficult to try and describe Mini Moderns in 5 words, we like to think we are fun, approachable and contemporary – but ultimately the five words that best sum us up are: WE CREATE STUFF WE LIKE and it seems to be working…
What 5 things couldn’t you live with out?
1. Our space – over the past few years our home, studio and warehouse has allowed us to grow Mini Moderns within our means and without having to worry about costly storage. It has also been photogenic and has provided us with instant locations for shoots.
3. Keith (says Mark)
4. Our sense of humour
5. Manhattans, we are writing this on a Friday which we always earmark for Manhattans….
Thank you Keith & Mark, for finding the time in your hectic schedules. Good luck with everything and continue doing what you love, it sure is paying off 🙂