One of the great success stories out of the UK design world in recent years has been Donna Wilson. In 2010 she was crowned Designer of the Year at the British Design Awards, bridging the gap between craft and high-end design. Her wares are equally celebrated in boutique shops (including Kido Store in Sydney) as well as at design fairs such as Milan. She's also done collaborations with esteemed UK companies Ercol and SCP. Donna's success stems from her final show at the Royal College of Art in London, when all her knitted creatures sold out. That was in 2003. Today she's stocked in more than 25 countries across the globe.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started my career straight after my MA at the Royal college of Art. I had a lot of interest in the creatures I made for the final show, and shortly after that I showed at Designersblock, London. I had a few great shops order more creatures and my show sold out, which spurred me on to create more. I never thought in a million years that I would start a business making strange knitted creatures, but that was how it happened! I then developed the range into other interior products and accessories, as well as furniture for UK manufacturer SCP. We have over 150 stockists in over 25 countries, and are still growing. We have some great stockists in Australia - like Space Furniture and Safari Living.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? That I can’t do everything myself and I CAN say no to things! (In the beginning I always tried to do everything, but I think I’m a lot calmer now!) I now have a fantastic team, who are all very talented and great fun to work with.
What’s been your best decision? To stick to my principles and keep true to what I do, which is make things that I love, within the UK, and celebrate the handmade.
What are you passionate about? I am really passionate about the handmade and I love and cherish the imperfections that come out of it. I also try to keep all the production done in the UK, this way we have a better handle on the manufacturing process and the quality.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I would love to have some more time with my grandma, who taught and inspired me so much when she was alive.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would like to create a world of pattern and colour and make it a happier place!
What are you reading? I don’t read enough I’m afraid; I think I am more of a visual person. I spend a lot of the time on blogs and flicking through magazines, and I find films very inspiring. I loved The science of sleep when that came out, which was directed by Michele Gondry. The cardboard scenes were very inspirational.
images courtesy of donna wilson