While the beast from the East is settled over the UK turning everything bright white, we still have high hopes for Spring to arrive soon and for the sun to return. We are craving colour over hear at Seasons and who better to help us add it to our homes than surface designer Susi Bellamy, who agreed to be interviewed for our Small Business Friday series.
Susi's bold, saturated colours in luscious velvet fabrics have us swooning over them. With a background as a fashion editor and an eye for styling, the lifestyle shots look like they have been taken off a glossy interiors magazine. Showing you just how to incorporate marbled and abstract wallpapers and fabrics in your interiors as well as in your every day fashion style, Susi is also opening up about her move to surface design and the best advice that has been given to her along the way.
Orange feathered wallpaper and cushion, Susi Bellamy
Gelo blu wallpaper, Susi Bellamy
Susi it's lovely to have you on the blog. It was really interesting finding more about your background. What prompted you to make the move from fashion editor to surface design and painting?
I stopped working to have my children when my husband was posted to the States. In order to fill the creative gap from leaving the magazine world behind I took up painting as a hobby at the Delaware Art Museum. I never stopped after that. I completed a MA in fine art at Northumbria Uni in 2013. The surface design is a very recent development and only began in 2015.
How did you cope with the change of environments: from a busy workplace to an artist's studio that can arguably be a lonely place?
I have had so many changes of environment that it doesn’t really phase me. However, I have really enjoyed doing the trade fairs at Decorex, Top Drawer and Maison in Paris where I have met other people working alone in similar situations. I have also enjoyed meeting people like yourself through Instagram and Twitter.
I find it quite inspirational that a career in art can start at any age. What skills do you need to approach a career change such as this more successfully?
Being enthusiastic and dedicated to your practice helps. I have also found that my previous skill sets used in the editing and magazine field have really helped me position myself in my new careers - first as an artist and then as a surface print designer.
Marbled papers in the studio with pietra grigia velvet stool. A riot of colour!
Being enthusiastic and dedicated to your practice helps to make the transition to a new career, says Susi Bellamy.
Stool and art
What were the positive influences of the Italian culture in general and Florence in specific on your art?
The weather, the light, the fashion, the history, the architecture, the fashion, the beautiful presentation and displays in the shops, the artisans and their inherited skills, colour and most importantly… food!!!
Does Italy remain a constant source of inspiration for you?
Yes it does although it is now intermingled with Northumberland and all my travelling memories. I bring all of these elements into my recipes but being the person I am, I don’t always follow the recipe!! My visual memory remembers the textures, colours and patinas of Florence - they are part of my artistic vocabulary now.
Khaki fantasy green wallpaper
Orange feathered wallpaper, lampshade and cushion
Close up of grey stucco wallpaper
How did you come up with the idea of transferring the marbling technique on fabrics and wallpaper?
I don’t think I was particularly alone with this idea of transferring the marbling onto fabric but when I looked to make an extended pattern I decided to mirror and kaleidoscope the patterns which turned them into something quite different and unique.
Bold, saturated colours are key to your designs: are these now a 'trademark' of your work?
They are definitely the mainstay of my collection but I am always looking to new palettes and I am now trying out some ideas in browns and terracottas - bit of a 70s throwback!!
When preparing a new collection how influenced are you by external factors such as "colours of the year" and fashion trends?
I am definitely influenced by external factors and I take a big interest in fashion and home trends. However I am not that keen on this years Ultra Violet (although I am funnily enough typing in it as I answer your questions!) but I think it is more of a combination of intuition and absorbing the zeitgeist of the moment somehow.
Susi Bellamy shades are also available in velvet and start at £145. You can get them here.
New designs for 2018, Susi Bellamy
Proudest moment since launching your business?
Proudest moment was when Heals used one of my designs to decorate their window and just recently they have put my geometric designs in their lead imagery for S/S 18. Also the first time I saw my exclusive collection for Heals in situ in their flagship store in Tottenham Court Road. Winning the best interior product at the Northern Design Event recently was also very exciting.
The best piece of professional advice ever shared with you?
You can’t be something for everyone - be proud of your product and your price.
What does your typical day look like?
Porridge with my husband at 7am, Yoga/pilates or zumba in the morning, answering and writing emails, then making the rounds to my cushion maker, framer, and some studio time, followed by more emails and developing designs or checking samples. Relaxing at home with the cat and/or husband in the evening depending on who’s at home!
Let's talk about colour! What are your favourite colour combinations?
Pale blue and red!
Orange Feathered Velvet Stool, £295 | Purple Multi Blocks Scarf, £145 | Pink Rose Kaleidoscope Abstract Velvet Medium Oblong Cushion, £95 | Green Lava Velvet Lampshade, £145 | Pietra Viola Kaleidoscope Washbag, £35 | Pietra Blu Wallpaper, £135 per roll | Red/Blue Geode Velvet Lampshade, £145 | Pink Foliage Scarf, £155
Join the conversation
Feel inspired by Susi's story? Is a career change on the cards for you? How do you go by ensuring that you have the right mindset to get you through such a change?