In the words of Fi Douglas, owner and founder of Bluebellgray, “It’s all about bringing colour and happiness into your life”. Well I couldn’t agree more or think of another brand that illustrates this more clearly and in such a beautiful way. Fi was a student at the prestigious Glasgow School of Art and her passion for colour and flowers inspired her to set up Bluebellgray. Her vibrant oversize water-colour florals come to life on textiles like cushions and fabrics and now ceramic and other interior pieces too. I love you how you can see the brushstrokes on some designs and the water-colours fading and dissolving.
Fi took some time out of her hectic schedule to answer a few questions. Oh, and she also lets us in on what her next new project will be, read more below…
How would you describe your work to a stranger?
Colourful, uplifting feel good design; a modern take on florals. It’s really about bringing art onto textiles – the original watercolours are perfectly replicated onto the pieces.
What inspires you?
Anything and everything. Inspiration is everywhere you look – from a walk in the park, seeing a great movie, reading a book or even a tree in your garden – for me inspiration is about taking the time to look and appreciating what a beautiful world we live in. Colour combinations can often be unexpected but spark my creative imagination – they could be anywhere like an incredible blue front door paired with beautiful pot plants that you see on your walk to work to traditional textiles you stumble across in a foreign market. A little time to switch off is when inspiration comes to me – it can be so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day runnings of the business but it’s important to take that time out and feed the creative part of your mind.
Which designers do you admire and why?
Quentin Blake is my all time favourite artist/illustrator – his use of colour and fun style is something I have loved from a really early age. I really admire Donna Wilson – she has such a unique and happy outlook on design and is really true to her brand and style. I love the furniture designer Russell Pinch – his designs are just so carefully considered and timeless, real classics of the future. Jonathan Adler is another favourite for his colourful designs; his happy design ethos really rings true to me and I love his style.
How would you describe your signature look, the Bluebellgray look?
It’s all about feel good design and primarily colour. There’s a natural colour palette that runs through everything I design – I am always drawn to vibrant and fresh colours and believe they can really change a mood. The design ethos is one of mix and match, taking modern painterly florals and placing them alongside antique treasures and pieces from your travels, layering pattern and layering colour is really key. Ultimately it’s about filling your home with things you love and make you happy.
So far, what has been you career highlight or proudest moment?
Being part of the John Lewis Design Collective has been amazing – to be able to work with such a well respected and iconic store has been a dream and opened so many doors on the Bluebellgray journey. I have been so delighted to receive gold awards from House Beautiful 2 years running; it really means a lot to me to be recognised by such a fantastic publication. But ultimately it’s great customer feedback that means the most to me. Receiving a phone call or email from a happy customer really makes everything worthwhile and is the reason I do this.
From your own designs, what is your favourite piece and why?
The Taransay bedding has a special place in my heart – it really sums up the Bluebellgray style. I adore large, oversized florals and using a rainbow of colours – it may not be traditional or expected but it really comes from the heart and to be able to share a design I love so much, and for other people to love it too, has been fantastic.
I got to know your designs first through cushions and fabrics, and now your have bedding, rugs and ceramics. What will be next?
For the last 18 months we have been working on a new project and I am very excited about Bluebellgray’s first step into the home fragrance market with a range of scented candles and diffusers in beautiful Bluebellgray printed vessels. It’s been a dream project and seemed like the perfect product to add to the range – it’s going to be full of beautiful florals and amazing scents that have been blended just for us. I can’t wait for it to launch in the springtime!
If you were not a designer, what would you be in your next life?
A children’s book illustrator – it was what I wanted to do as a little girl… maybe one day!
What is your favourite colour?
Anything on the blue spectrum from deep indigos to vibrant turquoise to soft duck egg – I love them all.
Images supplied by Bluebellgray
Feature by Theoda Solms Iles