When No. 22 Home & Hive HQ approached me about designing a Parisian collection last May and included an illustration of a Parisian cafe scene with bicycle atop the awning and Loulou logo, my interest was piqued.
Paris is a city that ignites the imagination and evokes a myriad of emotions and ideas to those who live there and those who pass through. It's the city of love; a dream destination for romantics spurred on by films like Midnight in Paris, Before Sunset and more recently Emily in Paris. It's the city of light; both literally and figuratively, as one of the first European cities to be lit by gas lights at night and a city that has hosted some of the brightest minds and daring creatives. It has a respected cafe culture and gastronomy and is synonymous with famous art, iconic architecture.
But the brief captured my attention for another reason. Paris was the home of my childhood dreams; a place I retreated to every afternoon as I waited for my siblings to come home from school. I will be showing my age, but I was in love with Madeline; so much so that I had a dedicated Madeline VHS and was loathe to have to rewind and tape over my existing episodes. There was something so thrilling about Paris and the adventures & scrapes Madeline, Pepito and friends got themselves into. And one of the things that I've continued to love and enjoy is the art style that the stories were depicted in. Ludwig Bemelmans, both the author and illustrator of Madeline, has a playful, romantic and reductive style that has influenced my own style of illustration throughout the years.
So naturally, Madeline, and more importantly Ludwig Bemelmans was my starting point. Throughout the course of researching & strategising I also fell in love with the work of one of Bemelmans' French contemporaries, Jean Julien, whose work is witty and playful. As I collated references, the collection's personality & style began to emerge. I began to see how my own work and illustration style would intersect with the 'personality' of the collection. This was the Paris that I wanted to capture; the artistic, collaborative and playful creative hub that it has been to many in my reductive, more minimalist style.
A mood board from the early stages of concept development.
At this stage it also became clear that the writing style would be incredibly important to this collection. I wanted it to have a drawl and inconsistencies - as if it was scribbled on a cafe napkin whilst watching the world go by. As a nod to Bemelmans, I included a lower case 'i' in 'Paris'.
An initial mock up of the plates & napkins when we were working through ideas and how the collection pieces would work together.
This collection has had many evolutions from its beginnings in May to become the collection it is today and has been an ongoing collaborative effort between No.22 Home's incredible founder Alexandra Pappas and Hive HQ's wonderful Jessy Marshall & team. As we moved from flat concepts to trialling ideas on plates - that I crudely hand painted - and refined our final concepts, we worked together to discover the best solutions for the items as individual items and as a collection.
Some of the hand-painted plate ideas that I mocked up with paint.
After much deliberation, we hit upon the plates & napkins that we felt were strongest in the collection and refined them until we felt they best suited the spirit and feel of the Parisian collection.
Image courtesy of Studio Bitsy
And that my friends, is how the No.22 Home collection came to be a homage to my childhood hero and available for your best croissant-eating-experience. I hope you enjoy the collection as much as I have enjoyed designing it; and that it brings you the sense of wonder, joy & playfulness that it was created with.
You can purchase the new Paris Collection from No. 22 Home