We’re not supposed to have favourites, but this season the Dahlia print has captured our hearts and has us all longing for the long summer days when those beautiful blooms appear.
I usually start pattern designs from my own original paintings, drawings or photographs. I absolutely love flowers and regularly take pictures in my garden or whenever I'm out and about. I have a lovely DSLR camera but I must confess that more often than not I'm snapping away with my iPhone!
The Dahlia design started from a photo I took when I was on holiday with my family. We were staying in the Youth Hostel in Minehead, on the north Devon coast. The hostel is set back from the town in beautiful woodland on the very edge of Exmoor and you can walk straight out onto paths in the hills behind it. We walked up onto this amazing high crest of hills above the woods where you can see right across the Bristol Channel to Wales and the whole sweep of coast below you.
The path eventually dropped steeply down into the beautiful old village of Dunster and we emerged onto a set of allotments. Everyone's vegetables and flowers were at their peak, including lots of amazing prize dahlias. I just adore dahlias and there's something so joyful about seeing great swathes of them being grown with such love by keen allotment holders. The photograph that I based the design around was one I got that day and it just stood out for its sheer exuberance.
From the photo I made a digital painting, using different brushes in Photoshop. I've got a graphics pen and tablet, so the process is very much like 'real' painting, all done by hand, except that it's on screen instead of paper. From the original motif I played with colour variations and then arranged the pattern. I thought it would make a brilliant wallpaper!
It's very rewarding to be building this relationship with Nomads, as a Cornwall based designer collaborating with another Cornwall based creative company is brilliant. Nomads’ fair trade ethos and work practice fits with my own ethical and sustainable approach to both design and lifestyle and that's really important to me. Another of my prints, a rich floral with hints of the folk-art painting style often seen on narrow boats, will feature in the Autumn/Winter 2020 collection. I'm looking forward to seeing that appear in the real world too!
Whilst the majority of our exclusive prints are designed in house, each season we also work with talented independent print designers, and Franca is one of our favourites! The Dahlia design is available in 3 colourways, each one set for sunshine and in a great range of styles - from the easy to wear tunic to the fit and flare dress (our summer party go-to outfit!).