Art for the sofa! What a fabulous concept!!! It seems like it was only last month that I busy ogling a collection of Susi’s colourful patterned cushions in the Heals showroom along Londons Tottenham Court Road! Not long has passed, but we’re now doing an interview! Check out the highlights section on my insta profile if you missed this one! #orangefever
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard of Susi, I’d seen her work on the Heals website in the past whilst doing my usual batch of interior inspo browsing… as one does!
I cannot deny it… I was inspired! I loved the notion of creating something colourful and completely unique, something that could turn the drabbest of sofa’s into a work of art! For me, her designs, which in my mind… can only be described as silky kaleidoscopes of colour do just that! I had a feeling that there was more to Susi than meets the eye. I just had to get in touch!
You’ve probably guessed by now that there was truth in my feeling! It turns out that Susi is a former fashion editor for Conde Nast Publications and her design collections are almost entirely influenced by her travels! OH MY… 😍 Anyone who can create entire collections of fabrics inspired by their travels is definitely worth knowing in my books! Wouldn’t you agree?
Susi! So, glad to have you! Well, let’s dive right into it!
Q: Susi, I’m intrigued by your creative journey… you are a former fashion editor for Conde Nast Publications, an artist, a designer and you also have your own art website dedicated to showcasing your creative journey! How did this all come about?
A: When I finished working at Vogue House we moved to the states with our first child and I took up painting to fill the creative gap that leaving work left behind. I haven’t stopped creating since and we have moved quite a lot! Each time I absorb the environment of where I am which informs my designs. By the time I enrolled on an MA in Fine Art at Northumbria University, graduating only recently in 2013, I was able to draw on all of my experiences to create the work.
The fashion, time living in Italy, my interest in modern art and architecture, the countryside, all became the fodder for my various artistic collections. I think my background as a fashion editor has made me work this way – in stories. I never stand still and my art/home collection is always bringing up something new which is gleaned from my journey. I think doing the MA made me really think outside of the box– it definitely pushed me further.
Q: I love the idea that fashion has a huge part to play in your work, what is it about fashion that inspires you so much?
A: I love the way it’s constantly changing and evolving. I am particularly interested in the way that the colour palette is reinvented for each season. It never stands still and so there is always the chance for reinvention and mixing things up. Initially, I used the colour palette as the palette for my own designs – working with a limited palette each season also helped me not to have too much choice!
Q: I’m intrigued… what was it like working as a fashion editor? That must have been an amazing experience! Would you say that this experience impacts on your current works in any way shape or form?
A: Working as a fashion editor was really a dream come true. It gave me the skills I needed for creating collections and for helping to edit the shots from behind the camera. It was always teamwork and I loved the input of the whole crew from model to make up artist. Once back at the office the art department would then get working on layouts and I think that by watching this process it really helped me to edit my own work and understand visuals better.
Q: I’m aware that you lived in Florence for a while. How would you say your work is influenced by your travels?
A: My design work is almost entirely influenced by my time living in Florence. From the Renaissance artwork with its rich colours and gilding to the fabulous multi-coloured world of the likes of Pucci. It all fed into my visual vocabulary and has helped form my Home Collection. The crumbling plaster of the palazzo walls helped inform my abstract artwork as I paint with a plaster’s trowel. The marbling was also done in Florence and has been the basis for many of my designs. And the icons which I reinvented as collages then became designs for my collaged cushions.
Q: Like myself, it’s clear that you are a huge lover of colour! As I said previously, it was only a little while ago that I was dreamily admiring your gorgeous selection of cushions in Heal’s! Tell me, Susi…How do you create such divine colour palettes?
A: The geometric photographic block designs created for Heals came from my degree show and my dissertation entitled Colour as a Commodity. I had created a floor sculpture of geometric painted coloured blocks to represent the popular colours of the fashion season and also to reflect the idea of a repetitive blueprint for the British high street. I then took these blocks into the studio and created photographic visuals which hover somewhere between 2D and 3D.
Q: You have some wonderfully tactile products within your collection… What sorts of experiences do you aim to create with your work… how do want your customers to feel when using your products?
A: I want my products to bring a wow factor to the customers home. Something out of the ordinary and unique. Something joyful. I even describe my cushions as ‘art for the sofa’. The luxe quality of the sumptuous velvet adds depth to the design and makes the colours sing.
Q: As with many creatives… I imagine the range of skills you have acquired over the years is extensive. I’d like to know, what would you say is your greatest strength and how do you use that to develop as an artist?
A: I think my greatest strength is probably my ability to work with colour intuitively – without fear. This often results in surprising palettes. I also think my experience at editing and cropping has helped to create the compositions whether it is for paintings or designs.
Q: Are all your works formed from your original paintings or do you incorporate digital methods in the creations of your work?
A: All of my designs come from original paintings, marbled papers and collages which I have created in the studio. I then use the wonderful world of digital manipulation to change colours and make repetitive tiles that can be used to create wallpaper and fabric.
Q: What projects are you currently working on right now?
A: I am developing my geometric collection on silk cotton and also working with some new marbled designs on plywood which will eventually be printed on linen. A new fabric for me.
So, tell me… what’s it like being Susi Bellamy… what does a typical day look like for you?
A: A typical day for me is an early breakfast with my husband then off to the gym for yoga or pilates. Then lots of emails, work on production and speaking to customers. And if I’m really lucky, I get time to design or create new work. I live in the beautiful countryside of Northumberland so I am fortunate enough to enjoy very little traffic and great views! Although, my studio is in downtown Newcastle so I often get to enjoy the city too.
I’d love to know what do to unwind? Do you have any favourite pastimes or places that you typically like to visit?
A: I enjoy walking at the weekend with friends and I love to eat! We often go back to Italy to enjoy the lovely weather and amazing cuisine. Visiting London is always fun as I have siblings and friends there but I always enjoy escaping again and coming home. Quiz night at my local pub is always fun although we very rarely win!
Finally, what does Artful Living mean to you?
A: Artful living means surrounding myself with inspiration, whether it is a painting by a talented friend or an amazing piece of pottery from a studio I frequent in Italy. I enjoy art the most when it has a story or meaning to me. It transports me back to where it came from – a place, a time, a moment…
It’s worth noting that alongside Susi’s cushions designs she also has a range of other beautiful homewares to inspire! Do check out her website for more delightfully daring combinations!
Are you tempted to add some colourful additions to your space? Tell me your thoughts I’d love to know!