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OX Homes Meets: Emma J Shipley

Emma J Shipley ouatmr

Emma J Shipley’s magical world is filled with opulent, intricate designs which bring interiors to life. We were thrilled to have the chance to learn more about her designs, her ethos, and her tips on bringing maximalism into your home.

Tell us about launching your brand at London Fashion Week after graduating from the Royal College of Art.

It was a really exciting time. I’d put together a range of printed scarves from my RCA graduate show, and that was the first collection I launched at London Fashion Week. There were lots of other new and exciting designers exhibiting, and it was a time before virtual meetings, so all the store buyers and press were there to discover the next generation of talent. It had a real buzz and was how I got some of my first stockists and got the business off the ground.

What led you to that point?

I knew I wanted to pursue my own brand when I was studying at the RCA. I’d been working part-time in a design consultancy while studying, and through a contact there I managed to get a meeting with the buyer at Browns in London’s South Molton Street. They took my whole final collection of printed scarves. I then saw the opportunity to apply to exhibit at London Fashion Week and that was the launch of my brand.

You have an admirable approach to ethical manufacturing and also support World Land Trust. How did you come to choose them to work with?

I loved the fact they are very transparent about the work they do and that it is wildlife focused. So, when we are donating to plant trees, this isn’t just about carbon offsetting so we can tick a box; these are trees to reforest areas for endangered wildlife. They have so far protected over 12,000 species. Sir David Attenborough is one of their patrons, and he said, “The money that is given to the World Land Trust, in my estimation, has more effect on the wild world than almost anything I can think of.” That’s good enough for me.

You have travelled widely, and your collections reflect the places you have been. Where’s next?

I’m not sure. Most recently I went to Costa Rica and stayed on the Osa Peninsula which was incredible for wildlife so it will be hard to beat…I would love to go back to Africa, perhaps Namibia or Kenya. I would also love to go to India. I went when I was about 17, so I would love to go again. I’m sure I would find it very inspiring.

Your designs find the meeting point between botanical illustration and fantasy; apart from the obvious influence of nature and travel, what else inspires your work?

Fantasy literature and films, particularly those from my childhood, for example the Narnia series, His Dark Materials, Lord of the Rings. There are also themes that come up again and again in my work; related to science, evolution, and patterns in nature. I want the viewer to feel like an explorer discovering a new parallel universe.

Which other artists and designers do you admire?

William Morris, of course – the original Arts and Crafts textile designer. I’m inspired by many artists as well. I love William Blake, MC Escher, Botticelli, David Hockney and many more.

In which ways does your personal style reflect your creations?

I certainly love colour in what I wear and in my home. I would say I’m a maximalist through and through! I have a large collection of my own pieces in my home. I like to mix and match for an eclectic look but use colour to pull schemes together, so – to me at least – they are in harmony rather than too discordant.

Have you thought of extending the fashion line beyond scarves/accessories?

I have created some fashion collections in the past, but I stopped to focus in on homeware. However, we actually have plans for some clothing more in the home / lifestyle area coming later this year, watch this space…

Finally, have you any tips on achieving the perfect maximalist style?

I think colour is really important and a statement print with a few colours is a great starting point. I love making a moodboard as you can really see how everything will work together in a scheme. Pick out colours from the print for paint, plain fabrics, and hardware, and you can’t go far wrong. I also love adding vintage furniture and pieces collected from travels such as trinkets and ornaments as they add real character to a space.


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