We love Sonya Winner‘s rugs – graphic, exciting and splendidly colourful. We’ll tell her so in person tomorrow at Tent London, but until then, let’s find out all about her wonderful world of tufts and knots…
When did you know that you wanted to design? I knew that I wanted to work with my creativity from a very early age, but it wasn’t until I did a foundation course at Chelsea School of Art that I really understood what design was all about. I had some inspirational teachers and I very quickly realised that for me designing was the most interesting and satisfying way to express my creativity. There is something really exciting about creating something that people respond positively to and chose to incorporate into their lives.
What are you most proud of in your work? I feel happiest about designing when I get genuine positive feedback. When a client loves one of my designs that they understand what I was trying to create. One of my clients recently sent me a text when she received her rug saying: ‘Love it love it love it – the room is alive’. That did make me feel proud!
What kind of material do you think has great possibilities? I’m fascinated by exploring the design possibilities of knotting and tufting with wool. There are so many ways to create original pieces working with texture, pile height, weaving techniques, wool quality and shape – it’s very exciting.
Which product would you redesign if you could? I would like to redesign the seats of the Mini. I also feel the upholstery doesn’t do justice to the Mini’s gorgeous shape and retro detailing. I‘d love to design a special edition fabric for the seats using my signature colour palette.
Which designer has inspired your work? I have to mention two of my design heroes – both women born in 1927 who have designed classic timeless pieces that are highly original and still look fresh and exciting today. The first is Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe – (1927-2004) the Swedish silversmith who was a brilliant and very original silver sculptor . Her jewellery broke with tradition, was completely ahead of her time and is still considered innovative today. She designed the first watch sold by Georg Jensen – the Vivianna bangle watch. When I first saw this watch aged 17 it struck me as the purest most simple and elegant thing I had ever seen. Vivianna’s fans included Pablo Picasso, Brigitte Bardot, Ingrid Bergman and Billie Holiday, who all were fascinated by her innovative designs.
I also have been very inspired by Maija Isola (1927–2001), the Finish designer who designed fabric designs for Marimekko. Her Unikko fabric still looks fresh and new even though it was designed in 1964. She designed it shortly after it was announced that Marimekko would never print a floral pattern again – but she went ahead and designed an entire collection of floral patterns of which Unikko has become the most famous!
What are you looking forward to about being at Tent? I am looking forward to meeting lots of new people and seeing loads of new inspiring work.
What’s your next grand plan? I will be exhibiting my limitied Edition Tree Trunk in pure silk at SuperDesign in October – round the corner from The Frieze Art Fair and the Limited Edition version of After Matisse will be shown in the window of The Conran Shop (Bibendum Building, Brompton Cross) as part of SuperDesign Highlights during the London Design Festival at the same time as I am exhibiting at Tent London. I am also currently in discussions about some very exciting ‘top secret’ projects for 2012 .
Tell us a secret… Chocolate stimulates your imagination and makes you design better than ever!