I instantly fell in love with Holker Hall when I saw it featured on the pages of House and Garden two years ago. This English country house has passed down through three families by inheritance since 1610 and surprisingly has never been bought or sold in 400 years.
Holker’s various owners have altered, enlarged, demolished, refaced and reconfigured this house through the years. The photographs below are a record of the house during Hugh Cavendish and his wife Grania’s tenure. The couple moved into Holker in 1972 and continue the tradition of improvements, innovation and hospitality. In 2015, they moved to a renovated collection of farm buildings on the edge of the estuary and handed over the house and state to their eldest daughter, Lucy.
What I love about this house is that although grand, it feels so homey. The fabrics, the mix of pattern, the Tiffany blue walls in the living room and many other clever details help to create this relaxed and inviting atmosphere.
Molly Mahon’s bold and cheerful block printed fabrics, wallpapers and homewares are inspired by nature, her travels to India and her daily life in Sussex.
On today’s conversation, we get to know the work and life of a modern print maker.
Dear Molly, first of all, I would like to know when did your love affair with block printing started?
Staring through the windows of an amazing fabric shop in Barnes, London where I was living and had my first child, so was often out pushing a pram. A feast for the eyes of fabrics all hand bock printed here in the UK. This led me to the shop owners block printing workshop set in the idyllic Sussex countryside and from that moment on I have been block printing obsessive.
I grew up in a very artistic environment where my mother was always making or doing something creative at the kitchen table. Therefore I feel very at home when I am at the table printing, in a nostalgic homely sort of way!
What did you find the most difficult part when starting your business? And the most rewarding?
My business has really grown organically so there isn’t a start date as such. At first it was my happy creative outlet which caught the eyes of friends. Slowly it grew to me printing for people outside of my circle, this was when I realised there was a business here.
Finding the people to work with and help me grow was hard, it took a lot of meetings and time and research. But, now I work with some wonderful people and have grown some very special relationships, in the UK and India. This is extremely rewarding as they also understand and want to make our products a thing of beauty.
The business is also my life, I am very passionate about what I do, so take everything personally! So if something goes wrong I really feel it, but when it goes right and when I see a pleased new client my heart sings and I realise that what I do is completely worth it.
Has Social Media changed your business model in any way?
YES – I think I have a lot to thank for Instagram. It’s the only social media channel that I use. I adore it, so simple and so visual – the perfect app for our product. It has enabled a very small kitchen table business with a small cash flow (so little expenditure on advertising/PR etc) to be seen all over the globe. I am certain that many of our orders have come off the back of my posts. I have also made many business connections through Instagram. It’s a really happy, positive, inspiring community.
Favourite English interior.
The has to be Charleston farmhouse. Heavily embellished with colour, pattern and fabrics and set in the South Downs, down the road from us, Charleston has been a big influence on me and my designs. It concretes in my mind that ‘more is more’ and that colour and pattern makes for a very happy feeling home.
A colour you would never be tired of.
Pink, in all its shades. Pink seems to be one of the hardest colours to mix, so we are delighted that we have some really lovely pinks in our collections.
Do you have any tips for mixing different prints in the same room?
Firstly, dont be scared to do it. If you like how it looks then thats good. A home should be made by very personal decisions, not by someone elses rule book. Start with one item, maybe a lampshade and add slowly…cushions, wallpaper then a new sofa cover perhaps…Mix up the scales, dont worry about colours, do what feels right to you.
When creating a new design, what part of the process do you enjoy the most?
I carry ideas around in my head, so I am in heaven when I find the time to sit down and pour them out on to paper. Once I have got the motif as I want it there is nothing more thrilling than carving the block and seeing how it looks in repeat. I am very impatient and work quite quickly. I can feel immediately if its going to work on fabric/wallpaper or whether it goes in the box of ‘needs more work’. Once I have the design I look at it and can imagine what sort of colours it should be printed in, its fascinating how colour can change the look of a design. I get very excited when I lift the block for the first time. A newly printed design that has been a success in my mind really is a thing of joy to me.
In a short period of time, Claire de Quénetain has achieved something that for many can take a lifetime: a signature and unmistakable style.
French-born Claire de Quénetain graduated from the prestigious Royal College of Art before setting up her own printmaking studio. Working across prints and textiles, her patterns mix light watercolour shades with bold dashes of colour to add a painterly feel to any space.
Inspired by flowers such as hortensias and lupines, her latest collection ‘Hortense’ showcases a range of fabrics and paintings that transform any room into a utopian garden.