Juliet Thornback and Delia Peel meet in 2004. While keeping their day jobs as a florist (Juliet ) and theatre designer (Delia), they worked on their first collaboration, a series of hand-printed clutch bags. They joined Cockpit Arts in 2006 and a year later established Thornback & Peel to create beautiful, intricate hand-screenprinted pieces for the home. Their imagery is playful and sometimes surreal, often using a combination of geometric pattern with 19th century wood engravings. Their work is a celebration of the traditional quirkiness of British humour and design. We love.
Describe your studio. Organised chaos, with lots of noisy banter – we’re right above Camden Council roadsweepers’ depot. But full of the creative energy Cockpit Arts provides.
Before you begin a new design, you must… Clear our desk and make a cup of tea. All our designs are collaborative. The creative process can be combative, but in the end we both know when we’ve got it right.
What inspires your work? A fairly eclectic mixture of Victoriana, Mrs Beeton’s household management, 17th century microscope imagery of the natural world, English culture, British humour, Norfolk and Devon.
You know a design is a success when… We both want to take it home with us.
The thing about being an independent designer/maker is… You have to inhabit multiple worlds: business, design, production, marketing, intellectual property rights, personnel and even accountancy – when all you really want to do is come up with something beautiful. But it is totally rewarding. You’re in control of the process from beginning to end – the proper artisan model.
What’s your favourite piece of design? Thornback Coronation Mug for Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Eric Ravilious, and produced by Wedgwood – when they were in Barlaston, Stoke. Not Indonesia. Peel Forties Bubble Lamp by George Nelson produced by Modernica
What music do you listen to while you design? We have very bad reception in the studio, but that’s really no excuse, Absolute Radio; Radio 1; and for a bit of nostalgia, Magic FM.
In another life, you would be… Thornback Pathologist (drawn to the grotesque). Peel Botanist (drawn to the growing).
What other designer/makers should we look out for? Louisa Taylor – stunning delicate contemporary porcelain wear. Also at Cockpit Arts.
Describe your perfect weekend. Saturday would be seaside, deckchairs, competitive sand castle building and a bag of chips from the van. And the same again on Sunday.
Any claims to fame? Christopher Bailey is a secret fan of our linen aprons.
Are you dancing? Yes, definitely.