We've all played a childhood game of "I Spy" on long car trips, but usually our discoveries tended more towards the mundane - cars, trees, and the like. Lovely Lauren from iSpy has a knack for finding the hidden beauty in everything around her, and uses it to create beautiful homeware with bright, bold prints. Here's her story.
- Hello Lauren! Tell us a little about yourself.
Ok, so I'm a graphic designer by day, and textile designer at night and on weekends. I spent 10 years living and working in Pretoria and Jo'burg as a graphic designer before we moved to Knysna in 2010. Taking a break to have babies and adjust to small town life resulted in an unintentional shift towards experimenting with textile design, just for kicks. At this stage in my life, I seem to be wearing many hats – wife, mom of two preschoolers, domestic manager, graphic designer, textile designer and a member of a really collective called Hands Design Collective – a good story for another day!
- I'm tired just thinking about how busy you are! At what point did you realise that iSpy had gone from being an outlet to a brand with a life of its own?
Has iSpy become a brand of it's own? Awesome if it has! Living in teeny Knysna, it feels like I'm Facebooking, emailing and posting into oblivion ;-)
- Haha! It absolutely has, and we're so glad. Your designs definitely aren't "teeny" though - lots of bright colours and bold prints. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Living in Africa, you'd think my inspirations would be more Afrocentric. And once upon a time they probably were. But I now find myself gravitating towards the simplicity and boldness of Scandinavian design. I love the way their designs, from furniture to product design to textiles, are so simple and clever, but haven't lost that human touch. Personality is also such a strong component in their work, as is color – they are so good at mixing up scrumptious, unexpected color palettes. Scandi design makes me smile. It has a strong emotional pull for me.
- I love that you've taken the very simple aesthetics of Scandi design but managed to make them pop. What are some more interesting facts about your designs?
It's really important to me to have iSpy products be as handmade as possible. A lot of my formal graphic design training centered around hand rendered design and illustration, so it's always been close to my heart. I believe this adds something special and gives my products a little bit of soul. I also want to support fellow Knysnarians wherever possible. All my designs are meticulously screenprinted by hand by a small family-run studio called The Natural Hand and my products are sewn by a jolly group of township ladies called Women of Vision. The leather components of my totes are sewn by the local shoe repair guy who operates just around the corner from our shop, so my bags take their place in the queue of shoes waiting for repairs.
- That sounds like an amazing little community you've built up. Ok, last question. It obviously has to be "I Spy, with my little eye, something beginning with..."
...world domination, one town at a time ;-)
We can't say we'd mind! Living in a world full of colour and pretty prints sounds awesome, to be honest. You can see more of Lauren's work in the iSpy Hello Pretty store, and get in touch on Facebook.