Spotlight on Design: Clarabella Christie

We were captivated by the unwavering principles of slow fashion that underline the work of Clarabella Christie. She places a strong emphasis on upcycling and recycling, and her use of colour and geometric prints is truly striking. With her eponymous style, she has created a unique aesthetic that is true to her own vision. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with her about her inspirations, and her advice for those looking to forge their own path and break away from trends.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a multifaceted artist from Fashion, Textiles, Colours and Interiors?

As a student at Glasgow School of Art, I delved into the world of printed textiles and surface design. Following a successful career in window display and theatre, I returned to Scotland in 2007 and established Clarabella Christie, a textile design studio that places a strong emphasis on reuse and sustainability. My work includes designing, printing, and creating a variety of homewares, as well as clothing, upcycling lighting and furniture, and offering classes at my studio within Abbot House in Dunfermline.

What inspires your distinct aesthetic, characterised by vibrant prints and rich hues? How has your style evolved over time?

Colour and print have always been a passion of mine, with my work greatly influenced by architecture and vintage fashion photography. As a student, I spent my lunch hours poring over vintage Vogue magazines in the library, and I would say that images and advertising from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s greatly informed the palette of my early work. The era was defined by bold patterns and daring colour choices, and the interiors of this period continue to be a source of inspiration for my own home.

One of my all-time design heroes is the Dutch designer, Verner Panton. His multi-disciplinary approach to design and his colour-saturated interiors continue to inspire me. He designed everything from the carpet on the floor to the light fittings and furniture. Among contemporary designers, I am particularly drawn to the fun surrealism of Johnathan Adler.

You recently crafted the Christmas Window displays for the Edinburgh and Glasgow Stores. Could you give us an insight into your creative process, the colours and materials employed, and the pieces crafted?

Designing and creating the Christmas scheme for Craig & Rose this year was an enjoyable experience. I had sourced two amazing ceramic '60s lamp bases that I wanted to create a special printed shade for, so I decided on a subtle interior set. I upcycled the lamp bases and some classic mid-century dining chairs, giving them a chalky emulsion finish and designed the lampshade, cushion, and fabric to reupholster the chairs. I also found a beautiful, foxed mirror from Catalog Interiors, one of my favourite interior stores in Stockbridge.

The 1829 range was my colour inspiration for this project. While I typically design and create very colour-saturated designs, I have been increasingly drawn to earthy browns, camels, and off-whites. I chose Dutch White, Papyrus, Cecily, and Etruscan Red and applied them to an "eye" design that I had been working on in the studio, which has a distinct '60s vibe. The eye motif is a recurring element in my work, and I even have a wall of eyes in my studio.

We understand that you were featured in SHOTY2020. How was your experience?

Participating in Scotland's Home of the Year in 2020 was a unique experience. My house has never been so clean and tidy! I was approached by the show's producers after they saw my home on Instagram, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase my designs. It aired during the first lockdown, so it was a fun distraction during those isolating months. My house has since undergone a second cycle of decorating and now looks significantly different.

Have you got any tips or advice for people when decorating their home and injecting colour?

When it comes to introducing colour to your home, my advice would be to choose colours that reflect your interests and personal style. Interior fashions are fleeting, so if your home's colour choices reflect your interests, they will have longevity. I am a collector, and I have based much of my interior around my collections of things such as glass and mirrors. A great starting point could be a piece of wall art, a vase, or a cushion or rug that you love.

Be brave and always sample the colours in the room to see how they react to light (we have these genius moveable colour patches in-store) and think about your ceiling as another wall. Recently, I painted my living room ceiling and it's been a game changer.

Are you working on anything new in the pipeline?

As for what's next for Clarabella, I am excited to launch a mini collection of lampshades and cushions for spring, as well as a new studio sewing class called "The Thrifted Stitch", which focuses on turning found and recycled fabrics into beautiful pieces for the home. 

Instagram: @clarabella_christie 

Facebook: Clarabella Christie Home