In 1993 Cath Kidston opened her eponymous shop in London’s Notting Hill, selling vintage textiles, wallpapers and furniture. Fast forward 20 years and Cath Kidston has become an iconic lifestyle brand with a global reach thanks to her strong signature style and knack for creating unique prints that are recognisable from 50 paces.
To mark the brand’s birthday, Cath’s two most popular designs ‘Antique Rose’ and ‘Red Spot’ have been revived, appearing on new accessories and home ware. We caught up with the designer as she celebrates her 20th year in the business…..
When did you know you wanted to become a designer? I have always had a photographic memory for print and pattern and when I was young I used to love playing shop, so looking back now, I guess all the hints were there that I’d end up doing the job I do and love now.
What inspires you? Print and textiles have been my greatest source of inspiration. I was fascinated by print from a very early age and that has stayed with me. I am also always influenced and inspired by my travels, as well as visiting exhibitions and galleries. I was full of ideas after visiting the Hollywood Costume exhibition and the new David Bowie one is great fun. I was also fascinated by Lichtenstein’s way of putting pictures within pictures and referencing back to his own artworks.
Do you have a design hero? I wouldn’t claim to have a design hero as such, I was always influenced by interior decorators like David Hicks and Nancy Lancaster as they had such confidence in their own style and interesting, unfussy taste. I also love Kenzo for his use of colour and I have huge admiration for Paul Smith for his wit and style.
Describe your work space…We have a creative ‘hub’ in the office that’s full of inspirational things from vintage textiles to funny children’s toys and games that evoke a sense of nostalgia. My favourite thing at the moment is a big inspiration pinboard outside my office, where our design team have been pinning lots of funny bits like washing lines with big pants and odd socks hanging, as well as photos of all sorts of weird and wonderful things.
What is your favourite part of the design process? I love the ideas bit and working with my teams to research new prints and products for us to bring to our customers. My favourite part is always the next idea.
Its been an incredible 20 years since you started your label, how has the industry changed? The list is endless and spans so many different genres. Technology is one of the most interesting changes in the last 20 years, the change from doing everything by hand to now doing everything in CAD.
What are your proudest moments of the last 20 years? I guess having created a unique brand, but I am also very proud to be employing people in the UK.
Is there any advice you’d give to budding designers or entrepreneurs? To make sure they are really passionate about their idea, as starting a business is incredibly hard work, and to not be afraid to ask for help when they need it – with hindsight I should have asked for help more often along the way rather than learning by making mistakes.
What do you think the next big trends will be in homes & interiors? I don’t really look at trends, I love to create things that are modern vintage and something that is always relevant so, I purposefully don’t research them or predict what will be seasonal hypes.
Do you collect anything? Every time I go to Japan, I’m given lots and lots of stuffed Stanley’s by our customers, so by default I collect those.
What is your guilty pleasure? Buying vintage fabric is an addiction! I still love vintage fairs and car boot sales, but any pieces I buy nowadays tend to be archived for inspiration rather than sold in store.
What would you be doing if you weren’t designing? I’d probably go back to my roots of working in a shop. I loved working in retail, being on the till and making all the windows and displays look really interesting.