TEXTILE designer Lynsey Jean Henderson has poured her colourful creativity into a flat in an Edinburgh tenement
WHEN it comes to home-grown talent, the streets of Leith seem to literally sprout with new artists and young designers. So it’s little wonder, then, that textile designer Lynsey Jean Henderson, a graduate of the Leith School of Art (as well as Edinburgh College of Art), decided to settle here ten years ago. “I liked the area’s eccentricity and was drawn to its creative buzz,” says the 28-year old of her decision to buy a one-bedroom, tenement flat on Easter Road.
“It was also the only place financially feasible for me then, but over the last decade I have seen Easter Road pick itself up and now we have a great delicatessen (The Manna House), an awe-inspiring furniture shop (Bra Bohag) and a great gift shop (Eero and Riley). It may not be one of the most picturesque parts of the city but, like great art, it doesn’t need to be pretty for you to like it.”
The world that Lynsey inhabits might be distinctly concrete-clad, but her stylised hand-drawn designs couldn’t be further removed from this reality. Depicting creepy-crawly creatures, birds and wild plants, her intrinsically Scottish collections are full of whimsy and hints of kitsch.
Regularly called upon to work on heritage projects (she has recently recreated a William Morris wallpaper for Kelburn Castle in Largs), Lynsey is currently focusing on developing a range of products for the Red Door Gallery in Edinburgh. She has also started a series of screen-printing classes from her studio in Powderhall.
Yet, whilst Lynsey’s creative output continues to expand at a rapid rate, it’s only a carefully curated selection of her own work that has made it back home. “I chose not to display any of my own work for a long time – it felt slightly narcissistic,” she says.
“However, when I needed to pin some new designs up to see how they would work in a home environment, I brought them back home. I loved them here so they stayed.”
Be it a series of stag heads, giant fronds or a flock of birds brought to life in multicolour, it’s the transcendental quality of her designs that now sets the flat apart from others. “I like to think when you come to my home it’s like getting a little glimpse of the inner workings of my mind,” she says. “Your home should represent you, after all – good, bad or indifferent.”
With fireplaces in three of the rooms (the one in the living room sports a black marble-effect mantel with olive green and mustard tiles) and many of the other original features intact, the flat was an ideal canvas for Lynsey to work with. Beyond that, though, she has completely transformed the property with bursts of colour and shots of pattern. “When I moved in, everything was beige, which I hate,” she says. “I love white and I love colour, but beige is neither one thing nor the other so it had to go. I decorated every inch of the flat in some way, shape or form.
“I must have changed the walls a good few hundred times, either with wallpaper and drawings or a lick of paint. Colour is so important to me and there is nothing better than an injection of a bold hue, be it in a cushion, throw or wallpaper feature wall to spruce a place up.”
Transforming the “boring pine” kitchen cabinets with a coat of cornflower blue paint is a prime example of her bravery with colour. While grey walls and pretty bunting occupy another corner of the kitchen, an apple-tinged white was chosen to freshen up the living room.
She’s not afraid to mix it up either. The bedroom is a beautiful clash of pattern, with her turquoise swallow-motif wallpaper providing an unusual foil for her Highland throw – a monochrome botanical print – on the bed. In the living room, a swathe of hand-embroidered floral fabric is draped over the sofa to meet an Indian tablecloth that is used as a rug.
Busy, it definitely is, but not overly so. The secret? Lynsey’s decision to go retro with the furniture. Be it the quiet angles of a G-Plan coffee table in the living room or her favourite Eames chair, clean lines and simple shapes are the perfect antidote to the bustle elsewhere.
To keep her creative eye entertained, Lynsey also keeps things exciting with a constantly evolving array of keepsakes. “My great Auntie Mamie was an aaya to an Indian Prince and travelled all over the world, where she collected the most amazing scarfs, clothing and trinkets,” she explains. “All of her treasures are in my home now and I love every single thing – we definitely shared a similar taste, although I sadly never met her.”
It’s these personal items that are most important to her. “A house becomes a home when you put your own style, flair and mark on it,” she says. “It should show the story of who you are and where you have come from.
“A collection of wallpapers and fabrics in your house bought over a long period of time will give your home depth, meaning and provenance.
“I have been told my house feels like home to everyone who comes here. It’s not slick or minimal in any way. It’s kooky, colourful and oozes warmth, which is exactly the way I want it.”
What is your favourite film?
Anything by Tim Burton.
What was the last exhibition you loved?
Hatti Pattison’s solo exhibition at Sarah Dallas Gallery, in Stockbridge.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
Munich, the art galleries there are out of this world.
Who is your favourite designer?
Florence Broadhurst. Her fabric and wallpaper designs seem as complicated and intriguing as her life itself.
Where is your favourite place to be inspired?
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It’s a little piece of heaven and I go there regularly to either wind down or be inspired.
What is your favourite view?
I’m a home bird so it has to be the view as you come up and out of the train station at Waverley, looking over Princes Street Gardens and the Mound makes me feel beyond happy.
• One-day screen-printing workshops at the Lynsey Jean Henderson Print Studio will be held every weekend throughout September. Classes cost £55 and include all basic materials. For more information, visit www.lynseyjeanhenderson.com
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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