Spotlight on Design: An Interview with Mairi Helena

Continuing our Spotlight on Design series where we are discussing and celebrating the role of pattern in interior design, we caught up with friend of Craig & Rose and Edinburgh-based designer Mairi Helena whose design HQ is currently going through some exciting developments.

We’re so thrilled to see all the changes happening to your brand.  Tell us a little bit more about the recent developments with your studio! 

Thank you! Yes it’s great to finally have a studio space to get stuck in to! It’s happening behind the scenes at the moment, and I’m really excited to finally have a dedicated space in which to showcase my fabric and wallpaper designs. With a lot of my designs having larger pattern repeats, seeing them in larger drops and in living spaces helps to visualise the patterns in situ.

How have your designs and style evolved over the last few years?

I’m in my 5th year of business and I think the part I’m enjoying best at the moment is evolving my design style. The way I design is very experimental, taking inspiration from my photos of textures and colours in landscapes and nature. My latest design collection is looser, slightly more abstract, which I hadn’t really planned for but I’m enjoying the direction that it is taking me in!

You’ve recently released a new design, haven’t you? Tell us about it.

Yes, I’ve just launched the fourth design in my ‘Back to Nature Collection’, called ‘Poppy Cloud’. This design takes inspiration from Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh 2021 wild poppy meadow, capturing the delicate petals framed against the city sky.  Details of seed and grass heads photographed against the floaty clouds can also be spotted, which I captured on coastal gardens in Wester Ross.

You can see the entire ‘Back to Nature Collection’ here as well as this new design Poppy Cloud.

Did you find that getting out into nature much as possible during pandemic lockdowns helped you get through that time?

Most definitely. During this turbulent time of unknowns, what’s struck me is how aware I’ve become of the seasons. Spending time outside has been a tonic to an otherwise frustrating time. We’ve been forced to take a slower pace of life and enjoy the tranquility of the great outdoors.

My latest designs are based on the idea of bringing the escapism of the outdoors in.

We know that you are often inspired by the beautiful landscapes nearby and places you’ve visited.  How important is this to you when you set about creating a new collection?

It’s very important to me and helps me to record memories. My ‘Back to Nature’ collection in particular as these designs have evolved from day trips with my daughter Iona. Watching the butterflies in the meadow gardens at Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens, spotting ducks amongst the reeds to watching the oystercatchers on the beach at Cramond.

We love how you combine Craig & Rose colours with your designs online so that people can see how to work pattern into their scheme.  Do you have any tips for people who might be about to start this task?

Thank you, the Craig & Rose colours provide endless possibilities and tie into the colours I design with so well! I love starting with a mood board or concept board to help pin down ideas. It’s great to have a starting point whether that be a picture that inspires you, an object that you have lined up for the room or a fabric swatch that you would like to incorporate. Often a colour will present itself from these objects from which you can expand from. Introduce a complimenting colour and don’t be afraid to experiment!

When it comes to incorporating more than one pattern into a room, how do you make this work?

There is often overlap in colours between different patterns which you can play with and accent. Be creative in how you introduce pattern into the room. You could be subtle and consider scatter cushions in different parts of a pattern which the pattern repeat is large, giving the concept of pattern mixing. Consider a patterned wallpaper for the walls with a patterned throw in similar tones for example.

LEFT: Inspired by the infamous craggy mountain range on the Isle of Skye, Cuillin Edge has been paired here with our Papyrus, Chapelle and Payne's Grey.

What colours are you naturally drawn to for your own home and why?

I love blues, I think because they remind me of the skies and coastline. I love being by the sea, I find it very calming and blues in the home can be very relaxing and timeless. I also love warm, uplifting feel good colours such as warm yellows and rosy pinks, especially when they catch the late afternoon light at this time of year.

Let's talk about the day-to-day. How do you balance all the elements of life, being a business owner and parent?

I’m not sure I have found the answer to that yet! It’s a juggle but a lovely one. I love that Iona is becoming part of my new design collection in the travels that we do together. I feel lucky to be able to juggle and be there for her during the day as well as enjoy exploring the great outdoors with her with my camera in hand to capture opportune moments!

So, lots of recent changes for you and your business.  What does 2022 have in store?

I’m really looking forward to my studio space bringing a new chapter to the business. Not only will it be a place in which to meet and chat with customers about my collections, but I hope that it can also be a place of activity for events, whether that be launches of new designs, creative activities or collaborations with other brands. Watch this space!

A big thank you to Mairi for taking part in this interview.  Did you know, our beautiful showrooms in Scotland stock Mairi Helena wallpapers and the team are always happy to help you select one of her wonderful designs for your home whilst helping you to choose the perfect co-ordinating paint colours.

Also, be sure to check out Mairi's new designs at mairihelena.co.uk