Textile designer turned interior innovator Rhiannon Southwell discusses her bespoke window films, designed to offer Bristol homes style, practicality and privacy
We’re saying ‘so long’ to the fuddy-duddy net curtains we used to peer through at Grandma’s house – after hearing that Bristol-based textile designer Rhiannon Southwell is ushering in a trendy new way to combine privacy with refined design. Distinctive in their highly ornamental-meets-Scandi style, Rhiannon’s bespoke window films draw upon 10 years of designing for clothing brands such as Superdry and Fat Face, and form the basis of her interior business Blossom & Brush. We got in touch to find out more about her excursion into the world of home décor…
TBM: After 10 years as a textile designer in London, how did Blossom & Brush come about?
RS: The move to Bristol changed everything. I’d always focussed on women’s and children’s clothing prints, but then two major things happened. Firstly, we renovated a house in Bishopston. There’s a lovely big bay window in the front room which passers-by loved to peer through. This prompted a search for some sort of window cover… Net curtains were old fashioned, shutters too bulky and blinds office-like. So I just created a pattern in the same way as I do for clothing and painted it on the window.
It gave privacy, but was far nicer than what was on offer in the shops. People stopped and looked, took photos, and began knocking on the door to ask where it came from. A business was born and now I put the patterns on bespoke designed film.
Do you still use your own home as a place to experiment?
Absolutely. It was a blank canvas, but retained many original Victorian features. We’ve made the most of those and added in our own style, colours and collections. Of course, our front room styled the first ever Blossom & Brush window, so it was certainly a good place to experiment.
Why do you think your film designs have been such a success?
Because they’re truly different. I often see etched glass or window film that’s practical, but not beautiful. For too long people have had to choose between style and privacy. Blossom & Brush offers both. We feature some of my favourite designs that cannot be found anywhere else and each order is redesigned to suit the window’s proportions, which provides an exclusivity people want. It’s a nice final touch that can add huge curb appeal to any house.
What are your ambitions for expanding Blossom & Brush – will you continue to develop your window patterns?
Yes, over time, the range of window films available will develop – just as the designs I create for clothing always follow current trends. While the windows have a unique quality, now the brand is established, the natural next step will be to put the same designs on fabrics, cushions, rugs, lampshades, wallpaper and more. I’ve already created doormats and am starting work on other products too.
Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
I’m often inspired by nature. Plants, animals and the landscape are some of the most interesting and beautiful things we all experience. I grew up in rural Wales, and love the dramatic landscapes there. I spent a very happy year working in Stockholm and always look to Scandinavia for inspiration. I love the very traditional Nordic patterns, but also the new designs coming through are a great place to look for new trends and ideas.
Do you have a favourite era for interior design?
I’m drawn to eras that have very specific and strong styles. I love Victorian and Edwardian design with their rich colours and patterns, but also the interwar period with its stunning architecture and patterns. I spent time in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, as a teen, and it’s full of modernist buildings that remind us of the Italian rule of the ’20s and ’30s. It was a turbulent time, but it left a stunning mark on the city.
What interior trends are you looking towards for 2017?
I feel that interiors are moving away from minimalism, white and clean lines. Homeowners are making bold statements with dark colours, and looking to preserve, restore and recreate original period features, rather than taking them out.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I’ll be creating new designs, exploring new product areas and introducing a new range of Christmas wreath and snowflake decals (temporary window stickers).
• Find out more about Rhiannon and see her clothing textile designs at rhiannonsouthwell.com, or to browse her window film collection and request a bespoke fitting visit blossomandbrush.com