Trending: Playful Mark-Making

Continuing our mission to celebrate the hand of the maker on the high street, our mark-making design story brings an element of playfulness to the AW17 collection. Here, every piece is decorated by hand, so each has subtle differences to make it unique. Craftsmen in Portugal, Thailand and Vietnam take original artworks curated by our designer Martha Coates and interpret them according to their specialist glazes and techniques with a range of different results – our favourites of which we have curated into the mark-making collection.

We sit down with Habitat designer Martha Coates to find out more about the trend and how it came about.

What inspired the mark-making collection?

This collection was inspired by a sense of craft and playfulness, and embraces hand-made techniques.

How would you describe the collection?

The patterns are bold and colourful and have a feeling of naivety and spontaneity. Combined with traditional hand embroidery and hand painting finishes they become sophisticated pieces.

Can you describe the design process for this particular collection?

I worked on large pieces of paper using a mixture of different size brushes. I actually used wall paint as it meant I could paint quite quickly and confidently creating a sense of playfulness. Our supplier then translated these patterns into product – with some we gave a strict idea of what we were looking for and others we let them experiment using their knowledge of technique and process.

Were these prints mostly designed digitally or by hand?

The prints were all designed by hand and translated into product using handmade techniques – handpainting glazes on vases, or hand guided embroidery.

How do you decide which colours to use?

We create a colour palette for each season so I generally stick to this. This trend picks out the brighter colours, and the use of black is very important.

What’s your favourite part of the design process?

Probably seeing the first samples of the designs at the manufacturers. Sometimes what you see is right first time, and others you have to experiment with changes in colour, material, technique or shape.

Where were these products made?

The cushions are made in India, using hand guided embroidery. They reference traditional craft techniques especially with the application of fringed edges. We have also used woven ikat on the reverse of the some of the cushions, which combines the bold printed pattern with traditional weaving techniques.

The vases come from Portugal and the Far East – they each translated the patterns in different ways using different glazes and techniques.

What’s your favourite piece from this trend?

It would have to be the GIGI cushion.

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