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Behind the scenes of Soho Home's hand-painted prints

Soho Home’s print designer explains why picking products that have been crafted by hand lends a certain something to your space

By Megan Murray

We all want our spaces to feel unique. Whether it's with objects collected while travelling or furniture sourced from vintage stores, a home is at its best when curated with pieces that have a story to tell.

Another way to get this one-of-a-kind feel, though, is by opting for homeware with a handcrafted element. Soho Home's in-house artists do this across our collections of ceramics, cushions and rugs with carefully painted designs, which are brought to life with traditional handmade techniques.

'If you can see the brushstrokes in a pattern, it means someone has put thought and care into it, and that makes it really special,' says Soho Home print designer and artist, Bryony Lowth. 'When we've designed something here in London, you know you can't just get it anywhere - it's one of a kind.'

We often draw on inspiration sparked by our Houses to come up with new patterns that feel personal and have a backstory. This could be the floral pattern on our Everly tableware, which is reminiscent of the meadows at Soho Farmhouse, or bold shapes taken from the design-led interiors at our soon-to-open Soho House Rome.

Here, Lowth explains what makes a hand-painted design so special, the careful (and lengthy) process that's involved from concept to product, and the narrative behind our prints.

Why is it worth investing in a piece that features a hand-painted print?

'There's an extra level of detail when something has been painted or drawn by hand. For example, a watercolour print will bleed naturally in its own way and create an extra layer of texture that you just can't achieve with a digital tool.'

What inspires the designs?

'At Soho Home, we aim to be timeless, so rather than looking at current trends we reference a lot of vintage artwork. As we want to create something that can become a valued part of a person's home for years to come, we avoid using styles or colours that could date further down the line.

'We look to the Houses for inspiration as well. In the coming months, we will have Houses opening in Rome and Paris, both of which have a unique design DNA that feels reflective of these iconic cities.

'I also use our countryside Houses, Soho Farmhouse and Babington House, as a starting point. I have huge books of wildflowers, botanicals and meadow scenes, which I pore over, and they've helped me when designing products, too.'

How do you get into a creative mood?

'Music helps me focus. But the type I listen to will depend on what I'm doing. When a deadline is approaching, I'll put on orchestral soundtracks without lyrics.

'Scent is also an important part of creating an environment that I can feel both relaxed and focused in. When I first started at Soho Home, I stocked up on candles and always have one burning when I'm working from home. My favourite is Bergamot & Mandarin Zest, because it's so fresh - it makes me think of summer.'

What’s the process for bringing our patterns to life?

'Overall, it takes about a year and a half, and it's a big team effort. It begins with our design director presenting themes for the season and we'll explore vintage archives, looking for something that sparks some interest.

'After we've decided on a concept and created a mood board, I can start painting. I'll experiment with many different variations of a pattern, analysing every detail from whether a flower looks better with three petals or four.

'Next, the team will design the size and shape of the product. We'll map out my pattern to see where it should sit, and then it's sent off to create the first sample. It might take three months to get a sample returned, because we work with incredible makers who paint the plates or knot the rugs by hand.

'After any last-minute tweaks have been made, we can go ahead with production. It's exciting seeing the finished product in real life for the first time, especially for things like rugs and ceramics, because they change so much. A design that's been painted on paper looks completely different after being transferred onto something like tufted wool; it comes to life.'

Whose home would you most like to see a design you’ve worked on in?

'I'd love to walk into someone's home and see one of my designs there, without them knowing I'd done it. It could be anyone. Where you live is so precious; it really affects everything from how you relax to how you socialise, and so it means a lot that someone might choose one of my pieces.'