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Bespoke Atelier – Beyond the surface

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Yvonne Elliott-Kellighan and Marion Parola have created a company which works with communities and manufacturers to make surprising and meaningful surface designs.

Bespoke Atelier was formed while Marion and Yvonne were studying textile design at Glasgow School of Art, with an award from Deutsche Bank providing the finances to start the company, as well as mentoring and a commission to work inside the company’s Glasgow office.

The studio works across interior design, architecture and public art, but always with an engagement with the people who will use that space. For commissions, Marion says, “we are inspired by the history and culture of a place, reflecting the aspirations of local communities”.

Their studio collections, such as the recently completed Glasshouse wallcoverings – which allow people to create their own unique patterns, unlike traditional wallpaper – are much more personal, with an interest in “the feeling of a place” and “hidden details”.

“We are passionate about translating our designs on to different surfaces, working alongside factories and craftsmen and utilising their skills,” adds Marion.

This interest in the process of production, and the community they are designing for, can lead to unexpected outcomes, as does Bespoke Atelier’s passion for experimentation.

Each design starts with research and drawing by hand, considering how different shapes and patterns will work for each project, from a textile covering to the outside of a building.

“Experimenting is essential as we always strive to find methods of pattern application which are going to make a project a success,” Marion says. “The great thing is that experimenting has now became an integral part of our design process, bringing innovative and unexpected design outcomes.”

Projects have ranged from beautiful exterior paintings in Morecambe to evoke nostalgia for the town’s former seaside holiday glory, to intricate wallpaper for the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art inspired by the building itself, and to steel waterjet-cut panels on Glasgow’s High Street which reference the area’s history.

One project, Woodside Health Centre in Glasgow, is a particularly good example of Bespoke Atelier’s way of working and the impact their approach has. The designers have worked with NHS staff and members of the community to design patterns for the centre’s exterior and interior, from the concrete walls outside to the fabric on the seats inside.

“Working alongside the NHS team was extremely important in addition to the community engagement events and workshops we realised throughout our design process,” Marion says.

“We used a variety of traditional textile printing methods to explore the cultural backgrounds of those who live in the local area, running workshops with groups who have Chinese, Pakistani and Indian origins, to name a few,” she adds. “The cultural and community engagement of this project was key to the development of the pattern.”

We are delighted to welcome Bespoke Atelier to V&A Dundee’s Design Champions for their focus on community, experimentation and fun in the creation of hand-drawn patterns which bring joy to people’s lives.

To find out more, visit Bespoke Atelier’s website.

The V&A Dundee Design Champions are inspirational designers creating high-quality work and helping to enhance people’s lives, or champions of the power of design to improve the world.

We will announce 50 Design Champions in the run-up to the museum opening on Saturday 15 September 2018.

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V&A Dundee's Design Champions project is working with Dezeen as its media partner.

Dezeen is the world’s most popular and influential architecture and design magazine, with an audience of 2.5 million unique visitors each month.