The first thing you notice about the Skinny laMinx charming store front may be the wonderful black awning set against the bright white building or the whimsical name that shouts out Please Enter! But it’s the bright pink flowers and the You Make Me Smile painted on the window that are completely irresistible and beg a look inside.
This is the beginning of a journey into the creative and colorful world of Heather Moore where varied designs tug at your eyes and colors and creativity demand attention and just make you smile! Enjoy the interview.
How did you get into this field? When did you know you wanted to be a textile designer?
I really got into textile design by chance. I was working as an illustrator, and had been messing around with using my hand-cut paper cutouts as stencils for printing with. When my husband gave me a screen-printing kit for my birthday, the combination of screen-printing and my enjoyment of cutting paper were a perfect match. People seemed to like the things I made, and as they sold – both in Cape Town and online – I gained more confidence. I’m completely self-taught (my Masters degree is in Education!), and I think that still having a lot to learn keeps me interested in the job.
How would you describe your artistic style? How has this style developed over time?
My design style is clean, simple and uncluttered. I’m inspired by the designs, colours and materials from the mid-century and seen in Scandinavian design, and seem to keep interpreting these in my work. As I’ve learned more about both my process, tools and materials, I’ve learned ways in which I can develop ideas further than I might have done at first.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
All around me! I love to look at familiar things – like plants in the garden and mugs on the shelves – and find that drawing them helps me look more closely, so it’s a good combination. Mostly, I don’t sit down and come up with a new design on purpose. I usually start out by making something just for fun – with no intention of turning it into a product – and then some time later hauling it out of a drawer and applying it in a practical way.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
My studio/shop is just a short walk from my home in central Cape Town, so it’s very much part of my daily routine. After a coffee with my husband at my top-notch local bakery (Jason, on Bree Street) I go to my studio, where I catch up on emailing and update my Twitter, blog and Facebook pages. I then I meet with my business partner Pearl, who is the sensible one who deals with all the money and planning. She’s living in Paris, so we chat on Skype about what needs doing. When my shop manager Jess comes in, we meet and talk about what needs doing in the shop and in the studio.
Usually my day involves lots of bits and pieces, including product photography (so much fun since I recently set up a little white photo corner in my studio), some sorting in the studio, and fiddling around with some designs and prototypes. Lots of tea gets drunk, and hopefully a yoga class gets squeezed in somewhere.
Tell us about your new textile collection that was just launched.
The Flower Dreams collection is all about flowers. The central print is a pretty mad two-colour print called Wild Flowers that has something of a Japanese feel about it. I made this print after cutting out flower stickers to decorate a wall in my studio bathroom. I lived with them for a while before having a Eureka! moment, and turning the design into a textile print.
Flower Fields is a pop-tastic summery print with a definite 60’s flavour. Pincushions is a modest and fairly conservative little charmer – a repeat pattern of a pincushion Protea head. The Protea is a flower species indigenous to the Western Cape, and is much beloved around here. The last print in the collection is a re-release of one of my very first prints, called Orla, in homage to the meistro of the stem print - Orla Kiely.
What advice would you give to an aspiring textiles designer?
Advice is something I find difficult to dispense, as I am self-taught and still learning so much, and all my decisions and growth have happened by the seat of my pants! I guess one of the biggest “aha!” moments I had when learning about printed fabrics through trial and error was that it is not just about the design – it’s about the entire textile. The most lovely design printed on a junky piece of base-cloth will not convince anyone, so go for quality in every aspect of whatever you are producing, from the cotton in your stitching to your choice of button and zip. It’s worth it!
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
I’ll be with my husband, pursuing my endless hunt for top-notch Eggs Benedict in Cape Town, but will probably settle for a good cup of coffee and a croissant. The company is what matters, anyway
What else would you like our readers to know?
Hmm, I think I really should say something about how amazing support from online people like you and others continues to be for small-scale designers and producers like me. Without this support and encouragement and publicity, my little business would never have got the attention it has. Thanks so much, and thanks so much for this opportunity to chat to your lovely readers!