Handmade or hand-selected, we're proud to support exquisite craftsmanship and specialist skills. Join us as we sit down with artisans, curators and designers in our Meet The Designer series.
Unique homeware designs add a finishing touch to considered interior schemes. Here, we sit down with Ruth Holly to learn about her design process and what inspires her beautiful collections.
What is your background and what do you specialise in?
I’m Ruth. I’m an artist, designer and creator of Ruth Holly, an independent lifestyle brand offering an artisan collection of contemporary home ware and stationery products. I specialise in sourcing and developing unique photographic finds into beautiful designs for everyday living.
Nestled in the hills of West Yorkshire, I design goods for you to cherish and love. My small production pieces are all proudly made in Britain. The ranges includes cushions, lampshades, art prints, placemats, notebooks and more.
My background is a mixture of art and design practises, with studies in illustration, graphic design, fine art and ceramics. I have over 10 years experience designing in-house for a range of commercial design companies. My vast experience and transferable skills have provided a fantastic foundation for starting my own design business. This eclectic design background has had a strong influence in my work today.
A few of your lovely designs have featured in past issues of Warehouse Home magazine. Can you tell us more about your collections and the design process?
Yes, SIGNATURE, my debut collection, and ASPECT, my latest collection, have been featured in Warehouse Home magazine. SIGNATURE is based on raw patina from the natural world. It features deep, dramatic hues of charcoal grey, rich brown and soft navy. It sits perfectly in both modern conversions and traditional homes. ASPECT is my latest collection, continuing with the theme of the natural world but heading to the shore for coastal inspired tranquillity, featuring blue hues, soft pink, sun bleached skies and sandy greys. These modern rustic pieces have strong personality and integrity.
“The Ruth Holly ethos is to appreciate the beauty in the unobvious and to slow life’s pace down a little, enough to observe our surroundings more closely.”
I usually start the design process with a mood board, gathering images together and subconsciously absorbing inspiration including colour themes, shapes, formats and materials for several months before a collection is born. Then, using traditional photography I capture found textures and patterns that correlate to these themes. I combine my photographs with contemporary trends and using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop I play with the scale, colour balance and composition to get each design just right before digitally printing onto a mixture of linens and cottons. I do find though that some of the most captivating finds are organic and not altered in any way.
I really enjoy finding something someone else would possibly walk past and not notice. It is an innate feeling inside me to discover something overlooked, and possibly worn away, and give it the attention and time it deserves, highlighting its beauty and giving it a practical use. There is no strict method to my work, it is quite an organic process and I can find inspiration anywhere!
Where do you find inspiration?
My main inspiration is found from natural surfaces, textures, layers and depth. For example, the weathering of rock faces, the patterns the tide has made on the beach, or the decomposition of iron, metal and concrete left open to the elements. However more recently I am drawn to urban and industrial material, decayed in a natural way. I love contemporary art: organic, spontaneous pieces, collage, abstract, expressionist and sculptural. I am inspired by Modernist architecture, specifically Brutalism. This coincides with my most recent collaboration with the Hayward Gallery, South Bank Centre, which reopened after a two-year refurbishment in January 2018.
I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to portray this Brutalist style gallery in a beautiful and commercial way. I decided on a sympathetic and tactile representation of the Hayward’s brutalist features. The controversial 1960/70’s 'Brutalist' architectural style is so often dismissed without consideration of its true merits. It’s so fulfilling to feature these for what they really are. The collection is so urban and raw looking, but with a soft feel. It was a really fun challenge.
It’s very important to me as a designer to develop something that will create a stir in the viewer; it’s fantastic to really connect with the customer. The Ruth Holly ethos is to appreciate the beauty in the unobvious and to slow life’s pace down a little, enough to observe our surroundings more closely.
A softer side of the Brutalist style Hayward Gallery is portrayed in these monochromatic homeware designs. Photographs by Gabrielle Cooper.
The Hayward designs provide a softer, tactile and more liveable range inspired by the gallery, resulting in a collection of honest products that meet the growing demand for raw and real. The range includes art cards, notebooks, digital art prints, tea towels, placemats and cushions. Any of these items can be purchase in the Hayward Gallery’s online shop or at their museum stores.
Can you tell us about your studio space and what style of décor inspires you?
My home studio is in West Yorkshire, in the attic of my 2-bed terrace. It's composed of 2 bedrooms knocked though, with skylights overlooking rooftops and out onto the wild landscape where Yorkshire and Lancashire collide. It’s an interesting place to live and work, being on the doorstep of rural beauties such as the North York Moors, the Peak District and the rugged coastline of Whitby.
I have kept the studio clean and white, and added a contemporary twist using graphic patterned wallpaper on the chimney breast from MissPrint. I am inspired by natural and raw interior décor, using raw materials, rustic finishes and imperfect edges but mixing them with clean and contemporary elements, much like my work!
What does a typical working day look like for you?
A typical day varies, as I am still working full time while growing the business! On my ‘Ruth Holly’ days, I will be doing anything from packing orders and researching trends to designing new collections, organising photo shoots and exhibiting at trade shows. The list is endless! When I’m not working, I like to run and swim, practise yoga, travel and explore!
We would like to thank Ruth for taking the time to talk to Warehouse Home. For more information, visit her website.
Cushions from the SIGNATURE collection complete a contemporary living room, adding a rustic industrial touch to the scheme.