Mark Hampshire and Keith Stephenson 2
Mark Hampshire and Keith Stephenson
Kathryn Clapham

Member Article

‘Cult’ Interiors Brand To Highlight Career Success At North East Lecture

Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD) is continuing its programme of public talks from leading artists and designers with guest lecture by iconic British interiors brand Mini Moderns.

London-based designers Mark Hampshire and Keith Stephenson launched Mini Moderns in 2006, an interiors brand specialising in applied pattern across a range of products including wallpapers, fabrics, cushions, rugs and ceramics.

The Yorkshire-born design duo will visit the northern arts school in Hartlepool on Wednesday 21 March at 6pm to talk about their career success since setting up the homewares brand; how they began, their style and method of creating work, inspirations and future projects.

The ‘cult’ brand, which sold its first collection to contemporary furniture store, Heal’s, now sells its uniquely patterned products online and through a variety of high end stockists around the world, including BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and John Lewis.

Mark, from Pudsey in West Yorkshire and Keith, from Guisborough, take much inspiration from their past for their designs and have a wealth of creative material to draw on.

A former student at CCAD’s further education college in Middlesbrough, Keith was taken with the college’s still life drawing room and props that he studied with, and created a range of 70s-style contemporary wallpaper designs titled ‘Art Room’.

He said: “Our inspiration comes from our lives, our experiences and our interests. We create what we describe as ‘pattern with a story’. Our pattern designs have a strong narrative behind them and are created from a very personal starting point in terms of subject matter, including childhood memories, travel, social history, even television programmes we watched when we were young. We are also inspired by designers and artists from the 50s and 60s, and a great hero of Mark’s is Sir Terrence Conran.

“We have been very lucky to be involved with arts and heritage organisations such as National Theatre, London Transport Museum, Southbank Centre, and Courtauld Gallery. Most recently, we have started work on a collection with the Museum of London. These projects are really creative, allowing us to tap into our love of 20th century design and social history and enabling us to create something bespoke and specific to each organisation, with a Mini Moderns flavour.”

Specialising in graphic design and fashion, Keith honed his skills at Pepe Jeans London, Dr Martens and Red or Dead while Mark established a successful career in publishing and children’s television before joining the world of design and branding. They met at a London branding and design agency, where they discovered a mutual passion for interiors and after a successful launch of their first wallpaper collection, they went into business together.

Both Keith and Mark will be talking about their love of creating wallpaper collections, the most important part of their work, as most of their products stem from the wallpaper designs, but will also expand on working with collaborators on stationery, kitchen ware, enamel splash backs, window film and home fragrance collections.

They are looking forward to inspiring and enthusing the audience and encourage anyone with a general interest in home interiors and design to come along.

Mark added: “What is exciting about working in design is that, although we are predominantly wallpaper designers, things feel much more flexible these days - and so we get the opportunity to work across lots of design disciplines and product categories, which keeps things exciting and fresh. We are very lucky to be running our own business, creating work that we love.

“Hopefully we will be providing inspiration and advice to anyone looking to pursue a career in a similar area of design. Many opportunities have come to us out of the blue, and our careers have not taken a linear path. In fact, Mini Moderns is not exactly what we expected to be doing at this point in our lives!

“A highlight for us over the past 12 years - something that makes us very proud - is to know how much people enjoy living with our designs. We get amazing feedback from our customers, and have a really good rapport with them. We like that we aren’t treated like a faceless brand - our customers feel they can relate to us. We always say: if we can’t live with our designs - who can? So we feel that our customers are like-minded and we have a great community of Mini Modernistas.”

As part of the event, which runs from 6pm until 8pm in the lecture theatre at the college in Church Square, guests can enjoy a buffet with refreshments and an opportunity to network prior to the guest lecture. With a limited number of spaces, bookings for this free event are advised as soon as possible to ensure availability and can be made at http://hartlepool.ccad.ac.uk/public-events/

Pat Chapman, Vice Principal (Employability and External Relations) at CCAD, said: “The College is buzzing about Mini Moderns visiting to deliver their talk and work directly with our students. In Mini Moderns Mark and Keith have developed a creative business that has grown into an international brand without leaving behind their inspiration in mid-century and later 20th century design as well as the English landscape – perhaps their best known range is Whitby which whilst nostalgic feels contemporary in the way the design is used across a wide product range.

“It will be great to welcome Keith back to the College and both students and the north eastern creative community is in for a treat as they learn about how Mini Moderns came about and how they translate concepts into highly successful commercial products.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Kathryn Clapham .

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