Creating for Calm. Meet Marie Murphy

Exciting new designer Marie Murphy, of Marie Murphy Studio, talks about how she became a designer, her creativity and desire to create a range that evokes a sense of calm and escapism.

Tell me about yourself

I’m Marie and I’m a textile designer living in Brighton, East Sussex. I run my business, Marie Murphy Studio, from my studio space in the center of Brighton, where I make small-batch, luxury British interior products. I make bold, graphic prints, embroideries and paintings.

My work is designed to add a graphic element to your interior that evokes a sense of calm and escapism.

How did you get into Textiles?

My first degree was in textiles at NCAD in Dublin many years ago. Over the years I’ve worked in many different creative areas from video editing to creative team building events but I have always felt drawn back to textiles. After I had my son I did some refresher courses and spent a few years designing stationery. I knew homeware was what I wanted to design but I hadn’t yet found my style. Last year this all started to come together and I now have a range of geometric and bold textiles, prints, embroidered sheepskin and paintings that are designed to be loved and cherished as statement pieces.

When did your love of textiles start?

As a child, I was always drawn to patterned fabrics. I found I could make things from odd bits of fabric and this gave me great satisfaction. In school, I enjoyed textiles and painting. Mixing up the paint for the stage scenes for the school play was my idea of heaven.

What did you do before you started your studio?

I’ve had a very varied creative career. With over 16 years experience in the creative industry from creating graphics for Fatboy Slim’s live shows to bespoke creative events for PWC, Pret a Manger and many others.

What inspired you to create a range that evokes a sense of calm and escapism and how that is achieved?

I am drawn to balance and symmetry and this is reflected in the work I design. Less is more for me when it comes to designing a piece of fabric or a painting. If it feels too busy or cluttered I keep working until I have the right balance between areas of interest and blank space.

I once went to an exhibition opening of a fine art printer. His exhibition was mostly of prints of dogs and one with a dog set in the right-hand corner of the print with a lot of blank space around it. The negative space around the dog was so powerful. I think I have been trying to create that powerful balance of calm and areas of interest in my work ever since.

What are your other inspirations and influences?

Geometrics. It’s all about geometrics for me. I can see a line or a shadow on a building and think that would make a great pattern or painting. I am also always looking at what my contemporaries are doing as well as being inspired by designers of the past. Bridget Riley’s work inspired one of the fabrics in the Process Collection – Stripe Story.

Who do you make your products for?

I make products for people who are curious and independent; they like bold modern interiors. They like to be a bit different and choose designers and makers who reflect this.

How does painting fit into your practice?

When I first met my (now) husband he asked me what I ultimately wanted to do and I said, “To paint”. Over the years I have done bits and pieces but when we went into lockdown I knew I needed something to keep me calm and so I started painting again. This new work is, of course, geometric and is of buildings and houses I can see from my house. All of the paintings in this collection have strong geometric shapes, balanced with vast amounts of sky. In 8 weeks I finished 11 paintings!

How do you come up with your designs?

I start with a lot of research into the style and area I’m designing for. I then put together a Pinterest board of inspiring images and colours. I also go through my photographs to see what has inspired me and what might work for this range. Once I have my inspiration and colour boards I start sketching. I then take these sketches and work them up on illustrator. To create 5 designs I can design about 20 patterns. Some work better than others and it’s then a case of whittling them down to the best. Working and reworking until I have the finished range.

How does creating make you feel?

Being creative is part of me. I have to do it. I need to do it. Even before I started my business I was always making and designing, from wedding stationery for family and friends to lampshades and nightwear. I just have to have an outlet for my creativity.

What helps you work?

I’m addicted to listening to the radio. Radio plays, podcasts, audiobooks and music. If I’m working I usually plugged into something.

What future plans do you have? Where do you see your textiles taking you?

This year has seen lots of my plans put on hold, but I’m delighted to have my website up and to be selling on it. Due to lockdown the first ever Brighton Design Show was postponed until next year. I was really looking forward to exhibiting but that will be one for next year now. My focus is on getting my new fabric range out there to interior designers and stores. I have also been working on some bespoke hand-guided embroidered linen curtains and I’m hoping to launch them soon.

Thank you Marie.

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