Donna Wilson UK
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Donna Wilson’s Whimsical Characters

Long leggy creatures, creatures with four eyes and four ears, a cannibal- Gruesome? yes! Scary? no!

These are some of oddball characters made by the British textile designer, Donna Wilson. Her creatures, furnishings, tableware and objects are colourful, tactile and for the most part, produced in and around the UK. Before launching her business, Donna studied textiles at Grays College of Art in Aberdeen followed by an MA at the Royal College of Art where she specialized in mixed media textiles.  “I think it was a quite young age, when I realized I had a passion for design.  I was always drawing and making things, and was always most happy with a pencil in my hand” says Wilson. Her mischievous, playful line won her the title of Designer of the Year in the Elle Decoration Design Awards in 2010.

Donna Wilson UK

As far as inspiration goes, her family of characters that are played out through her home accessories and tableware items are inspired by a myriad of sources: the landscape, music, dreams, magazines, Scandinavian design, ceramics and people.  “Sometimes I just see a tiny snippet of something that triggers an idea, which is then developed into a product. I recently went to a small remote island off the coast of Newfoundland and came back feeling really inspired by its landscape of boats and houses” says Wilson.

Donna Wilson UK

Donna’s grandmother originally tried to teach her how to knit and crochet when she was a kid, but she shares, she didn’t have the patience. “Even now, I’m not very patient for hand knitting, I prefer to machine knit. We were taught the basics during my BA, how to cast on and off.  That was in 1996 and after that I taught myself the rest to get the effect I was looking for” says Donna.

As a designer, she wears multiple hats for the brand that bares her name including selecting colours, making mood boards, designing and making samples, overseeing production, devising marketing strategies and day to day administration. Its been just over a decade since she launched the Donna Wilson line;”I’m still learning as I go along.”

Donna Wilson UK

INTERVIEW: Donna Wilson, Knitting Designer {London}

01 What is your favourite colour and material?
Green and many shades of it! And wool.  I love working with wool, and wearing wool. It’s such a lovely natural material and it can behave in lots of ways. For example, when you feel it, it can be quite thick and dense. You can dye it beautiful bright colours and it is so breathable so it can keep you both cosy and cool.

02 What is on your desk and in your bag?
My desk is full of paperwork. I am a messy person and do find that if I don’t have something that I need to do out in full view, it tends to get forgotten about. So normally I have bits of paper and samples everywhere! My bag has a couple of notebooks and pens. It’s a safety thing- Need to have a note book near me at all times. Just in case I get an idea or remember something I have to do.

03 Do you collect anything?
I have to try very hard not to collect too many things. If I had enough space, I would collect everything as I love being surrounded by inspiring objects.  I do have a shelf at home that has a collection of painted wooden dolls in all shapes and sizes.  Some are from a trip to India, others are dolls that I have made and some are lovely antique dolls with round ball heads from Japan. I love how there is a strange variation among them but that they all have nice faces.

Donna Wilson UK
Photo Source: Donna Wilson

04 What is your favourite product in your collection?
My favourite product right now would be the new pie chart patchwork blanket. I love the way it feels. The rainbow of colours, and the fact that it looks like a textile pie chart. It’s made by our seamstress, Eva, who makes patchwork quilts in her spare time. It’s such a lovely traditional process and this one looks really bold and colourful. I would like to have it on my wall.

05 What do you love most about your job?
Designing and I have only recently given myself a bit of time to do this.  I used to design in my own spare time, and on the back of an envelope on the bus! But I have been spending the last few weeks making mood boards, sketching and trying things out on the machine, and I remember why I love it. Being creative is a fantastic feeling, and I would recommend anyone to give it a go. I also really enjoy making things that make people smile.

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