Catherine Hammerton’s quintessentially British wallpapers and fabrics can be found in some of the world’s best emporiums – Liberty in London, Le Bon Marche in Paris and ABC Carpet in New York. And, luckily for us, she can also be found at Pulse, where Livingetc will also be this Sunday. Until then, she talks plasticine, sausage dogs and the slow digestion of beautiful things…
Tell us about your studio. I’m lucky to be based at Cockpit Arts in Holborn, central London. It’s a ramshackle old building shared with Camden council and spread over two floors. It’s always a busy and buzzy sort of place, jam packed with some of the best designers and makers in London. My studio has the most wonderful light, with almost floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, and direct access to the roof – perfect for drying screens when printing. I adore the space, and the makers next door, who are always in and out making coffee and me, laugh.
And, is there such a thing as your average working day? For any designer-maker I don’t think there can ever be an average day, no matter how well you plan! Often my day starts early, hitting my emails with a coffee in hand. Depending on the project I might then be off site, visiting clients to measure up walls or visiting one of my manufacturers to see how batch production is going. Often lunch is on the hop or in the park before getting back to the studio mid-afternoon to get orders ready and develop new ideas and designs for new products – the most exciting part of my job!
Who or what inspired you to become a designer? I think my mum’s bad drawings inspired me to be more creative. As a child I was forever making collages from twigs and berries (often with home made glue of sorts!) or playing with plastacine. Mum was a saint for sitting with me for hours on end, encouraging my projects to bigger and better than the last… Her drawing of cats are still terrible though.
How do you get from idea in your head to finished piece? I am never sure of the outcome of a product until I have been on the journey. Often ideas will bubble in my head, having seen an exhibition, place, magazine or junk shop months before. The slow digestion of beautiful things then starts to spill out first onto my boards and blinds, before trickling into my sketch books and notebooks. Little machetes and a string of paper works soon follow and without thinking about it, a small collection of ideas and designs will have formed. The process of doing and creating often ignites the idea of what it could be applied to.
What are you most proud of? I have achieved great stockists and wonderful press across the world but am most proud of my small batch production teams here in the UK – they are all fantastic to work with, big or small, and I couldn’t do any of this without them.
How far ahead does your masterplan stretch? This year my business plan is the masterplan, so it stretches to the next five years. Watch this space and lets see what happens!
What do you hope to get out of Pulse this year? I am really looking forward to meeting old and new customers for my new products and designs. Its been a little while since I have shown to British trade on home soil, so fingers crossed they like what they see and they are soon stocked in lots of lovely stores!
Other than designing, what makes you happy? Spending time with my partner, picnicking in Holland Park or being with my family in sunny South Wales.
How would you spend your perfect weekend? A lazy morning, with breakfast at one of our favourite local haunts before we head over to Portobello to do the shop – him the groceries and me the tat on Goldbourne Road. Afterwards we sit down to a strong coffee, slice of carrot cake and catch up about our week.
Tell us a secret. I am desperate for a little sausage dog and cannot abide bananas.