Hannah Nunn is a UK-based designer who makes gorgeous paper cut lamps and recently released her first collection of wallpaper which was presented at the HOME London tradeshow. She is also an Ultimate Guide to Repeats graduate and was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about her work.
Tell us bit about your design background, and how you found your way to surface design.
I’ve been making my paper cut lighting for over a decade now but never really thought of myself as a surface designer. My lamps usually just have a single motif because any more would be just too much to cut out. I’d never put any of my designs into repeat but had an idea that it might work quite well if I did. A couple of years back I was on a retreat with surface pattern designer Rachel Taylor who was doing a talk about her industry and I think a seed was planted then. You see I have always hand made every product I have sold and although I love this process there is a limit to how far you can go with that business-wise. I wanted to create something that didn’t require me to physically make every single one. The idea of wallpaper seemed perfect. Wallpaper would complement my existing product line and it looked like a wonderful medium to have some serious design fun! As soon as I started playing with pattern I was hooked.
What is the inspiration or goal behind your designs?
I wanted to create some signature designs that would sit well with my lamps. People always say my lamps are calming so I wanted to try and create that same feeling with my papers. My Paper Meadow wallpaper features Cow Parsley and Dandelion Clocks which are my two best-selling lamp designs and they are interspersed with the delicate grasses that I had been drawing in my sketchbook for months.
I launched my collection with only two patterns in three colourways each and that was a big financial investment for me but I simply cannot wait to have a whole sample book full of patterns. I just have to be patient and grow it step by step but this is a motivating goal for me.
Could you tell us a bit about your experience with the Ultimate Guide to Repeats?
Designing for wallpaper was a huge learning curve for me. Before UGTR I had learned how to do basic repeats in Illustrator but I couldn’t get my head around the limitations of designing for something that had to repeat edge to edge, top to bottom (on the print roller) AND fit into a particular size. Oh my goodness! I needed to go deeper into technical repeats. The tutorials really helped me to slowly and gently understand. And as the course leans more towards textiles I learned a lot about this area too which may well come in handy in the future. So many people keep asking me when my fabric range is coming!
What are your go-to sources for design inspiration?
The woods (I’m lucky to live in a beautiful wooded valley), the meadows, my Mum’s garden and Pinterest.
Do you have any words of wisdom for our incoming students?
When I set out at this time last year with wallpaper as my goal I honestly had absolutely no idea how to go about it. But what I learned is that when your goals and dreams are strong enough there is always a way. There is so much support online and a huge wealth of resources, like Michelle’s courses to tap into. We are so lucky.
My wallpapers have been received well and I am so glad that I had built up a strong customer base over the years before taking a leap like this. If I’d have known ten years ago how important this would be I would have started building a list much sooner. Start now!