60 SECONDS WITH… No Feature Walls
Laura Hunter, based in Oxfordshire, set up No Feature Walls, a blog and instagram feed, to explore the world of wallpaper, embracing pattern and print in interiors and fashion. Laura speaks to us about her enduring love for Morris & Co.
Q: Describe your style in 4 words.
A: Floral, eccentric, vintage, Jamaican-nana (is that 2?!)
Q: Tell us about your favourite project to date.
A: My favourite project to date has been my own house and my favourite project/room has been the spare bedroom in which I used Strawberry Thief wallpaper. It is a room that I have been able to combine modern elements (a metal bed frame), vintage art, and a fully wallpapered scheme. It mixes and showcases quite a few of the elements of my personality and design style.
Q: When and how did you discover Morris?
A: I first discovered William Morris as a student at school in London so was around 15 or 16. I visited the Morris gallery in Walthamstow as part a project and got to see a mix of William Morris designs as well some by other artists such as May Morris. I probably didn’t realise the distinction between Morris & Co and William Morris as a person until a little later on and I committed the cardinal sin of calling everything within the stable ‘William Morris’!
Q: What is your favourite Morris & Co. print and why?
A: Very difficult question as I like lots of different prints but only in certain scenarios. I like the simplicity of Trellis and its place in the history of Morris & Co. Also, I feel like it is one of the few designs with a slightly ‘darker’ edge due to thorny branches and I love that.
When I am feeling a bit more ‘feminine’ Melsetter and Honeysuckle are my favourite prints. I didn’t use any of these in my own house, however, as they are so feminine, they would alienate some of the members of my household!
Q: How do Morris & co. prints make you feel?
A: In my own home, they make me feel like I have achieved a lot of the things I set out to when I was younger. It makes me feel proud and privileged to be able to wrap entire rooms in a wallpaper I have always admired from afar. My parents and grandparents would never have been able to afford to do so.
When I see other Morris & Co prints out in the wild - especially in other countries like the US - they make me feel like home, not just my own home but Britain in general.
Q: What's your view on William Morris and the artistic movement he stood for?
A: It’s difficult to answer this question in the context of today’s standards. My understanding is that William Morris was a wealthy white male and an Oxford graduate who designed wallpapers and interiors for mainly other wealthy people. He was very privileged not only by today’s standards but those of his time and yet he chose to fight for socialism and for that I have a lot of respect for him as a person.
Q: What's the most creative way you've used Morris in a client's home.
A: I don’t design client’s homes and to be honest I am not a big fan of ‘wacky wallpapering’. That being said I did recently use a Morris print for the reception area in a primary school - Seasons by May Morris. It was not necessarily the way the paper was used but I think the placement of the paper in a such a prominent area where younger children could see pattern like this every day is a little different. Hopefully it inspires them to go on to study print design or art in general. What’s really creative is the abstract art that the pupils are putting on top of the wallpaper – pattern clash stars!
Q: What's the secret to working with lots of pattern?
A: Source from lots of different places. So, I wouldn’t tend to use Morris & Co in the whole scheme of the room, I would have one main pattern which could be the wallpaper and then I would try to source other patterns (vintage/other designers) within the same colour way or theme. I tend to use a lot of floral patterns so there are some go -o designers who I would always gravitate towards, but I love to discover new and upcoming pattern designers to use alongside more heritage patterns.
Q: Is there anywhere you wouldn't use Morris & Co. papers or fabrics?
A: Well, as mentioned I am not a fan of ‘wacky wallpapering’ ceilings, floors and so on. I prefer a more traditional look in that respect. I would never use a wallpaper on a floor as I want wallpapers to stand the test of time and I just don’t believe that can happen with wallpapering a floor, as cool as it initially may look when it is put down. Fabric I think can go anywhere – if you stand still in my house you may get upholstered!
Q: What do you like to combine a Morris print with?
A: Florals on florals for me – ideally small scale. Followed by bold plains including black which I love as an accent on picture frames and accessories.
Q: Do you stick to the rules of design- or are you a rebel, and if so, how?
A: I have no idea what the rules of design are so no idea whether I am rebelling or not. I just choose things which I think work and those things may not be things which are everyone’s cup of tea.
Q: Where do you go for inspiration?
A: Fashion and music would be my two main go-tos. If I am listening to a lot of Metal, I will be inspired to use darker/thornier designs and patterns. If I am wearing a lot of floral dresses and generally flouncing about, I will be inspired to use more feminine prints and schemes. If I am listening to Metal whilst wearing a pretty dress, you will tend to see what I have in the house which is floral with an edge!
Q: What's your dream project?
A: Maybe a project that incorporates living room style from the 60s/70s but with a modern twist so if Gucci open a hotel - ideal! Otherwise a commercial project, say restaurant, hotel bar or retail space with a similar aesthetic. The Liberty London coffee shop/restaurant could be something special.
Q: How would you incorporate Morris in that project?
A: One of the darker coloured Morris & Co wallpapers on all walls with some vintage style furniture pieces and a heavily patterned seating and fabrics. Layers on layers on layers!
Q: What would you like to see from Morris next?
A: Morris & Co has a fantastic way of collaborating with such cool designers and brands everything they do as a company is really on the pulse. I would love to see more movement away from the plainer patterns and Scandi colour ways into more of the bolder designs and colours similar to the Queen’s Square Collection by Ben Pentreath which was great.
I don’t know how much artistic license there is change/modify designs but I would love to see a limited collection of macabre Morris, including thorns/insects on fruit/etc., that would look great with some of the more Gothic style and Victoriana fashion that is out now.
Q: If you could customise a Morris & Co. design, which would it be and what would you do?
A: I would love to customise Windrush. The name is very significant to me as a person of Jamaican heritage due to the Windrush ship which carried hundreds of Caribbean people to the UK. I would love to update the colour ways (which are quite dark) with some vibrant, almost Caribbean colours, which would have been the way people, including my own grandmother, would have decorated their houses in the 60s and 70s.
posted on 25 Jun 2021 by Laura Hunter in Interviews