A Look Behind the Scenes of Mel Smith Designs.
For this week’s ‘Behind the Design’ interview I caught up with Mel Smith, founder of Mel Smith Designs. Mel shared how childhood inspiration turned into a career, the best thing about her job and a gave a sneak peek at the designers and trends that inspire her collection.
Tell us a little about your company.
It all started when I was about 16 – it was around the time when the telly was dominated by interior decorating shows. It sparked my interest for homes and how people express themselves through their interiors. It was fascinating to see how some people lived and just seemed to get used to what they had around them and ultimately fell out of love with their own homes, sometimes without even realising. I found this rather sad, especially as my parents have always taken great care with their home and were constantly decorating. I thought this was ‘normal’, but even I now admit that their constant decorating was a little excessive! But it seems due to their ongoing revamping it triggered my love for home wares and I was destined to work in the interiors industry! My university degree was specifically for interior textiles – fabric manipulation, CAD and it was the only university to have a module on flooring design. Ultimately I went for the surface pattern design route and haven’t looked back since!
What is your role in the business?
I’m a one-man-band right! So that means I am currently undertaking all designing, admin, accountancy, promotion. The best thing about my job is is I get to mix things up. My previous jobs have all been in admin, I like to organise things, so actually doing these kinds of tasks doesn’t really bother me. It’s quite nice to get time to step away from your little pattern bubble and come back to it with fresh eyes.
What is a typical day like at your business?
I’m not sure there is a ‘typical’ day as such. I’m a sucker for emails – I hate seeing them go over a page so always like to keep on top of them. There’s usually a bit of social media, managing stock, working on projects. Of course if there are design deadlines these take priority but other than that I have a general list of things to do that week and work through that based on what I’m in the mood for.
What inspires which product lines you create?
I have always been interested in interiors and home furnishings. I think it’s because my parents were constantly decorating one room or another so it was always ‘around’ me.
There are so many products I’d love to produce or people have said ‘ooh you should do XYZ!’ (bedding comes up quite often!). It would be great to be able to create all of these wonderful things and one day, fingers crossed, I will!
Tell us about your design style.
I think my style has grown over the past couple of years, and I’ve not necessarily been ‘aware’. It’s only when I looked at my last collection of art books that I realised all of the designers and illustrators were from 1920’s-1950’s that something clicked. I knew I was interested in the 50’s (Lucienne Day was a big talking point at University) but I have discovered so many more. I have over 50 Pinterest boards and this has really helped me to discover what my true style is and develop it further.
Are there any other card or gift designers you admire?
What is your personal favourite product in your collection?
I have a soft spot for my Morocco range. It just makes me feel so happy with its bold and sunny palette! The colours are taken from my favourite place in Marrakech – the YSL Gardens. Such vibrant blues and yellows yet it was so calming. If you’re planning a trip you should definitely make a stop there!
What are the most popular products in your current range?
My ‘Build Your Own London’ coasters have gone down a storm, I sold out over Christmas! They’re a fun little gift and seem to have been popular with both tourists and locals alike. They’re also a nice gift for friends who have lived in London but since moved on … a nice little memento of their time there.
What new products do you have planned for the future?
I’m currently spending time working on my portfolio, building up lots new ranges with various end products in mind. Nothing finalised yet though so I’m afraid I can’t share any more than that! I have just released a collection of bags and purses though – they make great little gifts and come in a variety of prints and colours to suit wash bags, tablet protectors and small purses.
Manufacturing & Production.
What can you tell us about how your products are made?
I focus on the designing and I work with a variety of British manufacturers to turn my design into wonderful products! I think it is important to support local or small businesses, just like myself, as we are all in it together effectively!
What would you like to do next with the business?
Ooh I have exciting plans! I am really looking to push collaborations over the next couple of years. I want to work with companies who produce various stationery and home-ware products, things I wouldn’t be able to produce myself. I want to work with companies that share the same goals as me with regards to great design, but ultimately we will aim to bring bold colour and exciting print to peoples homes!
Thank you Mel!
& now it’s time to see the collection. Pop along to the Mel Smith Designs website to see more.