In Conversation with Karen Lowes
Karen has recently joined the studio as Lead Designer.
She has 9 years experience in Surface Pattern Design designing for fashion, home and heritage. Although Karen has lived in Cornwall for 5 years, she has recently returned from 12 months traveling the globe gathering inspiration from countries as far flung as Albania, Morocco and Colombia.In her short time at Decorum she has already designed and collaborated with our artists on new collections of geometric tile colour blends, a new delft series inspired by the Cornish Wilderness and bespoke rewilding mural. We caught up with Karen Lowes to discuss her creative processes and how she works her magic
How do you come up with ideas?
I am constantly inspired by nature and what is immediately around me as well as current topics such as climate change, endangered species and the importance of habitats for wildlife. I always need to know that the design has a deeper story to tell; one that will share knowledge with others and develop a connection with the viewers.
What collections are you working on now?
I am currently working on a Willow mural with the help from Pip, one of the studio artists. This mural is inspired by the importance of waterways and rivers and the diversity of wildlife they attract including kingfishers, damselflies and fish. It is a hot topic at the moment and I wanted to capture this beauty within our collections.
I have also been working with Holly, another one of our studio artists on a Cornish Wilderness Delft range. This new delft collection features gorgeous scenes around the wild side of Cornwall celebrating sea swimming, camping, rock pooling and hiking the South West Coastal path among many other delights!
Another new collection I’m working on is on our brick tiles and is called “Shape Play”. This collection is to inspire others to get creative in their own homes by playing with colour combinations and geometric shapes to add a touch of modern sophistication and playfulness to a space, no matter how big or small.
How do working with Ceramics differ to what you have worked on before?
I have only dabbled in ceramic painting and pottery in the past and have designed prints for kitchen ceramics but designing for tiles is a totally different ball game. There are so many opportunities for what you can achieve and with one design, so many others are born due to the nature of how the tiles can be laid and mixed together. Tiles can really make a huge impact on a space and this really excites me - It feels like being in a sweet shop full of colour and pattern.
What plans do you have for further collections, talk about the importance of nature in our design process?
Further collections include more murals with a story to tell whether it be focused on the natural world or to celebrate colour and form. We follow trends whilst also ensuring the designs inform and have a deeper connection to Cornwall and our surroundings.
How have your travels inspired your designs and creativity?
My travels have inspired my creativity in a way that felt limited previously. It felt so refreshing to see other artisans and craftspeople in small corners of the world, making a living by doing what they love and with generations of skill behind them.
It made me feel more empowered to get out there with my designs and art pieces more than ever before and work in a more sustainable way and work with businesses that are aligned with my values.
Inspiration was endless on my journey, from beautiful tiles in Morocco, folk floral embroidery in Albania to brightly coloured houses in Colombia, I was endlessly taking pictures of colour combinations and patterns which will feed into the work I’m doing now.
What made you move to Cornwall?
I wanted to be close to nature and to the ocean so when I saw a print Design job for a clothing brand. I jumped at the chance! This gave me so much experience in working with a large team of other designers and creatives, all fueled with ideas and a willingness to collaborate. It also gave me an insight into how the fashion world works and the fast paced nature of it.
Could you talk to us a little about the importance of nature?
Nature is everything to me. I cannot get up and go until I’ve been outside for a woodland or beach walk (for which I feel extremely lucky).
Nature is our future and I always feel responsible as a designer to ensure anything new I create is impacting nature positively whether it be sustainable by being produced on a small scale with minimal carbon footprint, is created with recycled materials or it might have a wider message to inform others of current environmental issues and reminding us what we need to look after.
What would be your dream design/ collaboration?
If you’re redecorating your home what Decorum tiles would you use?
I love bold colour and shapes so would go for the brick Shape Play tiles in Terracotta, Pink and Dark Speedwell. Those colours are favourites of mine and the combination of those with the shapes is just beautiful and playfully sophisticated.
What other brands inspire you?
There are many but I’ll name a few! I love Anthropogie due to the eclectic nature of it. You will always see something you love! In terms of colour, I always look to Toast as they come up with beautiful combinations that work with clothing and home aesthetics.
I have always love a brand called Custhom who are brilliant with bold yet simple designs and they do it really well.