“Where do you get your design ideas and inspiration from?"

This question was posed by half a dozen or more people last weekend at the National Wedding Show, and has often been asked of me before.   I’ve finally grasped the bull by the horns and tried to work out the answer.  It’s been a lot tougher to understand than I’d anticipated, my mind is a complicated place, but I hope this can at least in part provide an answer.

“Good” designers are easily identifiable by their “signature style”, or so I've been given to understand.

I don’t have one!

I’m not sure I’ve ever had my own “signature style”, I’m certainly not someone who stands out in a crowd.  I’ve never been hugely confident, in fact I’ve been hideously shy for a large part of my life.  As a young child I loved playing dress up, inhabiting a make believe world where I could be anyone I wanted.  As I got a little older I spent hours each week dancing, and loved every single second of performing on stage, clearly at odds with shyness, but it was liberating as the costume was a transformative, confidence boosting mask.

I suppose I approach weddings now, as theatrical productions.  My role is providing part of the costume to help create the perfect scene.  When I work with clients on bespoke pieces I am following and interpreting their script.  I try to understand their “production”, the “set” they have designed, the size of the “audience”, the “theatre” that is their venue, and the personality of the “lead character”.  I take these images and briefs and then work with them to create the perfect “props”.

When I’m designing a collection, I’m working to my own an imaginary script, I love the freedom  of dreaming up separate stories, each completely different.  Due to this varied set of scripts, the common thread or “signature style” in my work, is my mind set, and my approach to what I do.  It is not immediately identifiable in the appearance of the resulting collections.  As with my child hood dressing up, I can be a “Grecian Goddess”, sultry “Starlet”, whimsical “Midsummer Night’s Dream” fairy or a nostalgic 50’s cute “Birdcage” bride, in fact whomever and wherever my flights of fancy takes me.

I have a need to keep things fresh and interesting for myself, if I did nothing but use the same materials and techniques, I’d lose my mojo very quickly and a “passion” would very quickly become a chore.  If I’ve spent time making a bead and wire intensive delicate collection, I’ll be looking for something bold and feathery as a contrast.  If I’ve been immersed in serious bling then the following collection will inevitably be in direct contrast and very natural and ethereal.

I would say my designs are definitely made to be seen.  For the most part they lean towards statements rather than dainty details.  Perhaps this is my theatrical head again, considering what will work for the audience as well as the performer?

I could wax lyrical about my passion for the work of great artists, jewellers of eras passed, historical costume, the beauty of nature, exquisite materials, innovative designers etc.  Of course I love and appreciate all these things and they influence me hugely but I don’t particularly study anything in great depth.  I just absorb things I like, sometimes subconciously and other times I really take note.  There is a huge diversity in what catches my eye, my interests and likes are nothing if not inconsistent and varied.

Intuition, common sense, and my inherent tendency to daydream are skills I rely on heavily, with a smattering of good ideas, which for the most part, just happen, frequently at 4am! 

Hope this answers the question and gives you a little insight!

Harriet x

Images by Ally Byrom