As the official blogger for Home London, alongside the confessions of a design geek bursary, I am also running a series of interviews with exhibitors from the Homegrown section – last week it was Rachael Taylor, this week I am delighted to bring you my interview with the very talented Kiran Ravilious. I am a big fan of block printing, so I’m really excited about this one…
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
I like vintage and antique chairs… I buy them on impulse and I get the ‘look’ from my family every time a new one turns up!
What’s your background? How did you end up doing what you do?
I grew up in Singapore. I moved to England almost ten years ago. I was 21, I packed my bags, bid my family and friends goodbye and decided to begin an adventure. I trained as a graphic designer at university but I’ve always loved printmaking and drawing patterns especially. Soon after moving to England I met my husband Ben who comes from a family of artists and who encouraged me to pursue my passion for art and design. I picked up some lino one day and began carving and experimenting printing on fabrics after reading some books. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be at first but it’s been three years and my style and printing methods have evolved.
You’re clearly quite inspired by nature – what interests you specifically and sparks a design?
I am interested mostly in the shapes and scales of things. I was walking my dog once and spotted a plant and went home and sketched it and the next day, I went looking for it and I couldn’t find it. I kept walking past and looking but it wasn’t there. I must have imagined this plant. This happens to me quite often and is normally what sparks a design. My designs aren’t specific plants or flowers, they are more a stylisation of them.
Tell me a bit about block printing – how does the process work?
I think of a design, I sketch and then I draw directly on lino. Then I carve the design. Most of the time, I make it up as I go along, adding detail. It can take a few hours to a couple of days depending on how complicated the design is. I ink the block and press it on to fabric. For larger designs, I use my old bookbinding press and for smaller ones, I use a brayer.
What’s your favourite part of the designing and making process?
It has to be the carving. It requires concentration but I’m also at my most creative when I’m carving. My designs are quite large for block printing which is normally small and delicate. The blocks themselves, to me, are lovely!
What’s the best part of your job?
Being able to express myself through my designs and keeping everything made in England!
Describe a really good day in the life of Kiran Ravilious and a really bad day.
A nice sunny day and everything is glowing and I’m in my studio and having a good printing session where I only make one mistake. A bad day is when I’m not in the right state of mind and the prints are rubbish. I hate waste and I normally have to walk away and come back later.
What are you most proud of?
I’m quite tough on myself and very seldom feel proud of me but, I have to say, I’m very proud of being an inspiration to my two daughters. They can spot my designs a mile away – and they are only two and five! My older daughter likes working with me, though she sometimes accuses me of stealing her designs – which isn’t true by the way!
What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
Be as original and as individual as you can.
And finally, favourite colour please!
Every shade of green… well, almost – I’m not terribly keen on lime green.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Kiran Ravilious is exhibiting as part of Homegrown at Home London, 13th – 15th January 2013, Earl’s Court 2, London.
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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