UK-based British design studio, Wallace Sewell was established in 1992 by Harriet Wallace-Jones and Emma Sewell after graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1990, and 2017 sees them celebrating 25 years of their design practice. Their diverse portfolio includes scarves for the Tate museums as well as moquette fabric designs for Transport for London’s underground seating. Working from London and Dorset, this progressive studio pioneers excellence and originality, combining innovation with practical solutions within their woven products. The work of Wallace Sewell is unaffected by fashion trends, instead the duo develop their ideas for woven cloth in a pure way by working intuitively. They are known for their juxtaposition of yarns, combined with a considered investigation of colour proportion and stripe, These give the fabrics many of the qualities of a work of art whilst maintaining their functional roles. Each year they create a new scarf and interior collection, which is sold to over 300 stockists, in 23 countries worldwide. Strongly influenced by the Bauhaus for its aesthetic and design ideology, Wallace Sewell strive to unite craft and manufacturing, embracing traditional techniques. The initial design process begins on handlooms in the London and Dorset studios. Production then takes place at a mill in Lancashire, fusing tradition with state of the art technology weaving a variety of fabrics. Since Wallace Sewell’s inception, Emma and Harriet are proud to have always worked in the UK, embracing the British Textile Industry for its wealth of expertise and production excellence. Wallace Sewell 24 Lloyd Baker Street, London, WC1X 9AZ
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Mooching about at home with the family. Cooking, baking, making.... I have always made stuff, starting from when I was a child, encouraged by my parents who were both architects. They grew up in the war years and, like everyone, had to be creative and self-sufficient.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Buying camping stuff…from our T25 camper van that we have stripped out and had fitted with an interior scheme we designed, to various bits of Snow Peak camping kit. My summer holidays from childhood to now have always included camping in some shape or form, though we always intend to go camping at the weekend, but never manage to sneak away. Too much 'mooching at home'...!
What is your current state of mind?
Happy, but with an undercurrent of anxiety at the state of the world.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
'Wouldn't it be better if......?' As I am quite bossy, like all the women in my family, and will often have an opinion on the best way to do something.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Building a happy family. Creating the Wallace Sewell studio, with my business partner Harriet, keeping it going for 25 years and counting, through various recessions, but still holding onto the integrity of our original motivation from when we started. This was to create woven fabrics with the excitement of a handwoven piece, but that could be made by machine, working with the British textile industry from day one.
Where would you most like to live?
Recently the beautiful 1950s house built for woven textile design Bernat Klein came on the market, inspired by the Californian case study houses, such as the Eames House in LA, with amazing wood panelling, a sunken lounge and a serene design studio attached. It felt like it was waiting for me to live there, however it is in the rural borders of Scotland, and though my youngest daughter and I spent a few hours working out the logistics of getting from it to the office in London, it is sadly just too far away.
What is your most treasured possession?
The aforementioned campervan. It replaces one that we inherited from my dad that was a complete rust bucket, but got stolen whilst full of all the camping paraphernalia we had accumulated over the years. We were heartbroken, as it had so many memories attached to it from family holidays with our girls from when they were babies onwards. We bought our current one pretty soon after the theft, and tried to replace as many of the kit, including the blankets my grandmother had crocheted for my brother and me. Though I'm still working on that project, whilst watching TV.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Knowing I'm right! Though my family disagree.
What do you most value in your friends?
A sense of humour and fun, and the patience to put up with me.
Who are your favorite writers?
Hard to answer. Many writers, though I am drawn to books based around journeys, whether real or fictional. I am currently reading Tove Jansson's 'Summer Book', having read her 'Winter Book' last Christmas.
Who is your hero of fiction?
'Moominmama', from the Moomin stories by Tove, because she is always caring and kind, quietly wise, un-phased by unusual situations and prepared for anything. My mother always aspired to be like 'Moominmama' too, and did a pretty good job of achieving this.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Anni Albers, Gunta Stolz and the female weavers of the Bauhaus.
What is it that you most dislike?
In the creative world.... bad, lazy, unconsidered design. But in reality... cruelty, inequality and selfishness on a global scale.