For this Designer Diaries Interview we spoke to Tigger Hall, Interior Designer and Founder & Designer of Nine Muses Textiles
What is your earliest memory of design?
I have never not known design. My earliest memories are of growing up in our house filled with baskets of bright coloured wools and fabrics for embroidery, tapestries and patchwork. We used to have painting days and I can vividly remember the paint palettes, lovely pots of brushes and even the smell of turpentine. Colours were everywhere in my home and my mother used to explain to me how to mix different colours to create fabulous new ones.
When did you first know that you wanted to become a fabric designer?
This came organically after a trip to India 10 years ago. When I returned, I started painting the designs I had photographed while I was there and thought what a gorgeous collection I could make with these painted designs.
Image above: Tigger Hall in her studio
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a fabric designer? Did this start from prior experience as an Interior Designer?
I started my life in fashion making wedding and evening dresses. This was the 80s so it was all about huge skirts and puffed sleeves and I would hand paint and bead all of the details on the pieces. After a trip to Italy, I became interested in Painted Finishes and started a homewares line with stencilling and marbling techniques. This then led to me doing an Interior Design course. I have had an interior design business for 30 years now and my love for textiles and the history of textiles and design has always been a driving force behind it.
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs? What would you say are the main influences on your work?
Inspiration is everywhere! History is my main source of it and I love visiting museums and galleries such as the Met in New York and the V&A in London, especially their ancient pottery and textiles collections. Travel is also incredibly inspiring. I have travelled to Istanbul many times where colour and design is truly everywhere, and of course, India, where you live and breathe pattern and colour – it’s so palpable.
Where is the most surprising place that you’ve found inspiration for your designs?
As a creative, I don’t think anywhere is surprising. Design is everywhere one looks, you just have to be open to seeing it. Sometimes I get on a thread and don’t sleep for days – I have to work on the inspiration while it is there.
What’s your creative process? Take us through the development of a design from idea conception to the final product.
Often it will start from a photo I have taken in a museum or from a collection of very old books I have purchased over the years. I paint the design then put it into a repeat. My skills are very simple and nothing is done on the computer until I send it off to the printer. I have my ‘palette’ printed on fabric which I cut into little swatches gathering together the colours for each design. Everything has to work so that designers are able to create schemes using our collection.
What types of materials and production processes do you prefer to use and why?
I love to paint in gouache or watercolours with details added in coloured pens. The process is very organic which is why I prefer digital printing – it allows the paint strokes to show. Often I also leave the pencil lines in the design to show the hand.
Images above: (left) Development painting for the Pajama fabric, the design of which was taken from an old pair of Tigger's father's pyjamas. (right) Pajama fabric designs in colourways: Pajama 12 Indigo, Pajama 34 Caramel, Pajama 38 Heather Green, Pajama 47 Macclesfield, Pajama 42 Rouge
Images above: Creative process and development work
What is something that most people don’t understand or appreciate about textile design that you wish they did?
I feel like people don’t always appreciate colour or the beauty of living with colour. Personally, I feel it is the most important thing to humans both emotionally and psychologically.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to experiment with adding more colour and pattern to their interiors with fabric/wallpaper but is scared of making the wrong choice?
Find what colour makes your heart leap and work the room with that.
Is there a particular design in your collection that’s your favourite and if so, why?
That is a hard question to answer – I love so many! Antique Indienne makes me smile every time I see it. It was painted from a fragment of old Indian textile I found. The colours we have done this in really remind me of India.
How has the fabric and textile industry evolved since you became a part of it and what do you see and hope for the future of it?
Over the past 40 years, I have seen so many trends and textiles come and go. The collections which have sustained are the ‘honest’ designs, with beautiful subtle colour. I have fought against the bland porridge and grey trend of the past ten years – these are colours of jails and footpaths and have no place in our homes. We are like children reacting innately to colours – we must allow this to breathe into our lives!
Using natural pure fabrics has become especially important in today's world where sustainability must be a priority. The linen we use is produced in one of the greenest mills in the world and the digital printing is done on a printing machine which is like a kidney machine, the ink is recycled and nothing goes to waste.