Karen Walshe is an advocate for contemporary coastal style, crafting beautiful textiles for the home working from Topsham in Devon. Karen fell in love with sewing over twenty years ago, taking inspiration from her mother and grandmother. Her work reflects the coastal charm of elegant wading birds, capturing a touch of the quirky and a slight naivety of design. Her designs vary from piece to piece, yet she always uses quality fabrics woven using soft sandy tones and dusky hues of blues. So we are proud to bring you the Designer Insights of Karen Walshe.
Image Credit: 1) Jane Stanton 2) Karolin Schnoor (Royal Doulton) 3) Gennine (Cloud9fabrics) 4) Anna Wrigstad Ostberg 5) Rosemary Jacks
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1) In your own words describe your unique style and creative aesthetic?
My style is slightly quirky, naïve and distinctly coastal. I am drawn to simplicity of design and work that captures something of the nature and essence of its subject.
2) When starting a new project, what is your creative process?
My designs usually exist in my head for some time before sketching them. Choosing the right fabric is essential. I know intuitively when it’s right…and when it’s not!
3) Out of the creative people you have worked with, who is it that you respect and admire the most?
I have a wonderful creative partnership with Kimberly Rainford who does all my product photography and who seems to understand instinctively what I’m looking for. I love the way she uses light and experiments with perspective. We have great fun shooting the lifestyle shots in particular. I will have spent ages happily wandering around John Lewis looking for just the right props to set off my products.
4) When looking for inspiration is there a particular thing you do to get inspired?
I start with a walk along the estuary, listening to the beautiful wading birds, watching the way they walk and hold themselves and search for food in the shallow water.
5) What has brought you to this point in your career? And what is your advice for people looking to follow in your footsteps?
My best work is when I allow my surroundings to inspire me, rather than be swayed by the advice of well meaning others to ‘do this….’ or ‘make that….’. Investing in professional product photography was a real turning point as it helped me to develop a distinctive and coherent ‘look’.