Designer profile: Black Parrots studio
Friends Sarah and Alexa share their love of interior design and reveal the story behind their new collection
Can you tell us the story of how you both met and decided to work together?
We met 15 years ago through a mutual friend. We’ve delved into various ideas as businesses over the years. We had been thinking about a lighting company, as with my history in lighting design and our shared passion for it, it seemed like a natural choice. However, it was only when Sarah was working on the BBC Two show ‘The Great Interior Design Challenge’ that we started talking about setting up in the world of interiors. So that’s when the cheese plant light was born.
How do your skills complement each other?
We share a very similar aesthetic, so that’s always brilliant because we love the same things. We do have quite different skills though; I have a history in product development and Sarah’s is far more project orientated so we are both learning from each other all the time as well as bringing a different viewpoint.
Are you influenced by the trends or do you look elsewhere for inspiration?
Sarah: Travel is key. We both seek our inspiration from all the places we’ve visited and would love to visit. Hence our tropical and animal themes. Alexa: Fashion is also a key inspiration for us. Admittedly, I’m a little obsessed with fashion and follow Fashion Week religiously. I love to see what people are wearing and sharing fashion colour palettes definitely inspire our interiors.
How would you describe your new range of wallpapers and fabrics and what did you want to achieve with it?
Flamboyant. We are mad about vintage fabrics so what we really wanted to do was to create something modern but with a foot in the past, the 70s being a massive influence. We also always look to put pattern on pattern, so the idea for the lattice was born. We understand how to layer print and one way is by using super scaled with tiny prints, as it’s fun and playful.
70s style has been making quite a comeback in interiors. Why do you think this is?
We have always been obsessed by everything 70s. It’s about the nostalgia of our childhood, so it’s probably the same for others. There’s a huge wealth of beautiful design that came out of this era, some of it is iconic but there are so many beautiful pieces that are less recognisable but with a slight nod to the era for those who don’t want to be so bold.
How do you advise anyone who wants to start introducing colour and pattern into their home?
Be bold. If you are mixing pattern, play with scale but keep to a colour palette for a more harmonious result. With colour it is all about how you want to feel in the room; dark and moody or light and bright. You should start with the way you want to use the room and be in it and when you have worked that out choosing a colour is so much easier.
Can you describe your studio to us?
We have just moved into a new studio in Brighton and we love it. We can just step outside and feel we are in the middle of this creative city. It’s on three floors and we now have space to showcase our wallpaper and fabrics in the window.
How do you approach a new design?
We get inspired in so many ways, that can be after a trip, watching Fashion Week or reading a book. We begin by thinking what we’d want or need in our own houses, rather indulgently, but it’s a great way to create something because it means we come up with something totally unique.
What are your hopes and plans for the coming year?
We are more than a little bit excited about our new pattern range for the spring. It’s a mix of florals and geometrics with more animals. We are also working on ideas for making interior design more accessible to people because as an industry we believe it can be seen as aspirational rather than something that is affordable.
Article by: Emma Foale