For the second in our series of interviews with designers, Corinne Hellein, very kindly replied to our questions.
Colour consultant and expert, Corinne Hellein launched the brand Coco Hellein. The look is contemporary and colourful, with fluid lines & graphics influenced by numerous artists.
What inspired you to start working in this field?
In the field of decoration perhaps it was my grandmother who liked fabric and made clothes for my dolls and clothes for my mother and me. And my grandfather too who reupholstered armchairs.
In the graphic design field I used to see my father designing posters and menus and decorations for parties. I always wanted to work with drawing and colour…I chose this discipline after my first year at art school. I hesitated between architecture and photography but textile design brings together drawing and colour with the fluidity of fabric.
Tell us about your working process. When you are working on a new product or collection, how do you work?
Often it’s a sketch made whilst travelling or the combination of colours that starts the process.
But often it follows on from a finished project where I rework the different graphic elements, changing the layout or the scale and most of all the colours.
For example, for the design Ribbon that became wallpaper and linen cushions is about the graphic interplay between colours overlaid that I put together last year for a tufted wool carpet for the brand Roche Bobois. And in the beginning it was all about the idea of layers of paper, glued and pasted over each other that I saw, photographed and memorised on a door in Brussels.
The design for I love Typo is from a long-term research into very different types of lettering to illustrate travel books on New York and Rio that I would like to publish and I ended up putting together an ABC.
I like travelling, contemplating and taking in the habits and customs of other countries and cultures….I like to bring back their essence; photographs and sketchbooks are my favourite mediums. They allow me to immortalise experiences that I then re-transcribe to create fabrics bring back those fleeting moments into everyday life.
What is your idea of a perfect working day?
One which is not interrupted by a list of administrative tasks and follow ups – so, drawing, painting with coloured inks or working on collections. And exploring different compositions on my Mac. And also, when I’m working on new projects, coming up with ideas for shapes and brainstorming words to illustrate a concept or an idea.
Where do you work from and what does it look like?
I’m lucky enough to work in a really lovely space designed by architects, a loft where I have my ‘nest’ with a bay window on one side that overlooks a quiet little patio and on the other side a large bookcase with loads of books and magazines. The place is light and calm and the materials used in the space are dark and minimal which helps my concentration.
I’ve made myself at home by bringing in my table, sideboard and Danish 50’s style chairs that I picked up at the flea market. A junk corner and cupboards for keeping samples of fabrics and other materials.
Does your home resemble your work? Do you use your own designs in your home?
Yes, I think so. It’s lively and colourful whilst still being organised.
Of course in my home I’ve got my cushions, rugs and curtains that I change when I bring out new designs…I sort of test out the newest products in my place but I like to mix them with other styles too.
Who are the people that have inspired you or what are your design inspirations?
Scandinavian designers for their graphic and radical style. And their nod to nature too. Japanese textiles too for their colourful and refined style.
The painters, Sonia Delaunay, Josef Albers, Fernand Léger, Matisse, Vuillard, Warhol, graphic designers like Paul Rand, Max Hubert, Paul Cox, architects like Niemeyer, Mies van der Rohe and artists and land artists like Andy Goldsworthy…Eliasson….Moroccan and Indian craftsmen.
Which are your 3 favourite shops in Paris (or elsewhere!)?
Liberty in London, Le Bon Marché in Paris and loads of little designer boutiques in areas that are less well known.
What is the object that is most precious to you, and why?
I have lots but perhaps my Danish ceramics picked up in Copenhagen and my Chinese paintbrushes that I bought at the flea market in Shanghai.
What are your favourite books / blogs / music at the moment?
In terms of music, Agnès Obel, Angus & Julia Stone, Natacha Atlas, Maria Callas, Lou Reed, Patty Smith … and Christine and the Queen that I recently discovered.
I have trouble reading unless I’m on holiday because my head is always full of things. I prefer to read new books or magazines like Clef for the subject matters or Courrier International to find out what is going on in the world…
If you were a food / recipe, what would it taste like?
A liquorice lace, Fig ice cream or a Nut cluster!
Is the glass half full or half empty?
Half full…and often overflowing…well, mostly always optimistic.
Any exciting plans for Coco Hellein?
A trip to Finland in February with my daughters and two weeks teaching textiles in Morocco at the beginning of 2014. Maybe a trade show to show my new products.
And I’d like to do a travelling exhibition of photos, drawing, fabric…I’d love to start in Brooklyn!
Thank you Coco!