Most of us live in boxes. As such, four walls can be our home, or office, or other well-defined dwelling. From a design standpoint, how you treat those walls varies greatly. You can use them to amplify your taste, showcase your possessions, or define your personality. For many, paint is an easy and quick way to dress up a space. Others choose to go for a more personal approach.
To Charlotte O’Reilly, those upright partitions are, quite literally, her canvas and she uses every square inch to express herself. Every square inch. Hailing from the UK, O’Reilly creates lush and bold prints that both speak to and represent her sense of style. Her company, Charlotte Jade, offers a full line up of impressively vibrant patterns that cover walls and furniture. She believes in bringing the beauty of the outside world in with her own hand drawn patterns.
We reached out to O’Reilly after seeing her take on flora and fauna. It is stunning. The level of detail is exquisite – all Charlotte Jade designs really are done by hand – and the patterns really bring a fullness to the room. In the past few years, she’s watched her company grow, and it’s impressive to see something come to life from just one pencil stoke.
Q. Plants and animals have been done before, so what about your style, interests, and working with those subjects appeals to you?
My design style is detailed, realistic and textured. I like to observe the natural world around me, capturing the fine details by hand drawing what I can see. I love drawing animals, flowers and foliage, focusing on the natural textures of my subjects – for example, an animal’s coat, a birds feathers or a particular plant texture, bringing in bright and vibrant colours.
Our patterns naturally bring the beauty of the outside inside. Based on the concept of Biophilic Design, the Charlotte Jade collections focus on the benefits of bringing elements of nature back into our lives to reduce stress, aid mental well-being, and improve productivity. By celebrating the shapes, form, patterns, textures and colours prevalent in our natural environment, Charlotte Jade brings the outside in, and restores our affinity with nature.
Q. What part of the process that excites you the most? What’s been the biggest surprise seeing your drawings come to life?
I love it when I’ve completed the research and initial detailed drawings. At that point, I’m ready to take these illustrations onto the computer and begin experimenting with composition, applying colour and building the final design. The possibilities are endless with digital design, and it’s amazing to see it all come together after weeks of research and design work. Seeing my pencil drawings come to life on screen is always the biggest surprise. I absolutely love making the designs look as realistic as possible, and it’s great how the application of colour can completely change and enhance the design.
Q. Working with a repeat can either be freeing or limiting. What are the benefits and drawbacks to using a grid in your designs?
I love creating intricate and complex repeat patterns, and it’s so rewarding when you create a pattern that doesn’t have an obvious repeat. That said, the process of getting to this stage is sometimes a challenge. [Laughs] Aiming to keep the pattern interesting, and disguise the repeat as much as possible, takes a lot of experimenting and testing. But I love this side of the process because it’s so rewarding when you finally achieve a good repeating pattern!
Q. You’ve taken your designs from walls to furniture. Tell us about that transition, and challenges to working between those two products.
It’s great seeing my designs used for different products within an interior space as patterned fabrics and wallpaper create such different atmospheres within a room. I love the diverse look and feel these two products can create within an interior space. That’s why I love printing on them both individually and using them together. A challenge is knowing the scale which will be appropriate for both. On most occasions the fabric scale will need to be smaller, so this is always considered before printing for a project. You have to be weary of colour differences, too, as printing on so many different types of fabrics or wallpapers can result in slight colour variations. So I am always aware of this before printing. I sample all my designs to ensure I’m happy with all the printed colours before presenting these to clients.
Q. How many tests and mock ups do you go through to get the design you want in a pattern you’re happy with?
The design process can be quite long from the outset. I spend the most time studying and hand drawing each of my subjects in pencil. Most of my tests and mock ups begin when I start to put all the drawings and elements together in Photoshop. Testing colours, composition and experimenting with overall layout takes time to get it perfect. There are many stages, and a lot of time spent working over each pattern.
Q. The Charlotte Jade designs are very bold. How closely do those designs reflect your personal tastes? And what do you think is too bold?
I love patterns! My house and fashion style are both designed around patterns, and the bolder the better if I’m honest. I love vibrant colours and realistic patterns that reflect the beauty in the natural world. That’s why Charlotte Jade is based around the idea of bringing the outside in by capturing the beauty of nature within our designs. My wild designs might be a little like Marmite, [Laughs] but either way, I love creating patterns that literally bring an interior space to life and have that ‘wow’ factor for my clients.
Q. The designs are your creation, but what kind of input or comments do you get from anyone you deal with?
I always like to get feedback on new designs from my clients, and from this I can make tweaks to colour or composition if something isn’t working. With my existing pattern collection, I work with many clients personally to create bespoke, exclusive designs for their interior projects.
One of my favourite bespoke projects to date was when I collaborated with the amazing Kelly Hoppen on an exclusive pattern for the beautiful LUX* Grand Gaube hotel in Mauritius. It was a dream come true to work with Kelly and her team on such a stunning project. I created a design inspired by the native Mauritian Echo Parakeet, using a collection of hand drawn Parakeet’s and foliage, which was then printed onto luxury ceramic tiles.
Further to this, we’ve created bespoke designs for London Zoo, Sony Record Label and Celebrity Cruises working with our clients personally to achieve the exact designs the want. I love working directly with clients to create bespoke, unique patterns for their projects.
Q. What have you learned in the manufacturing process that has affected the creative path of your designs?
All my products are digitally printed which is essential for the way I design. My patterns are incredibly detailed, so having the ability to capture every single detail and fine pencil mark though digital printing technologies is key to my creative path. Without digital printing, I wouldn’t be able to have such vibrant, textured and detailed patterns, which is the trademark of Charlotte Jade.
Also, the available wallpapers and fabrics now available mean there are endless possibilities for my products. I can print wallpaper, upholstery fabrics, outdoor fabrics, cushions, soft furnishings, carpets, tiles and so much more which is so exciting! I’ve got a number of amazing British manufacturers which all produce exceptional, luxury products for the Charlotte Jade collection.
Q. What’s the next hurdle for you, and what would you like to try in the next few years?
I am extremely excited to continue to grow and develop Charlotte Jade, not only building our presence within the UK but also internationally, working on more hotel, commercial and residential projects around the world, and also to continue collaborating with other brands. I will be launching my new Botanical pattern collection later this year (yet to be named) which I really can’t wait for, and I will be exhibiting this collection at Decorex 2019. Over the next few years, I would like to extend our product range on our online store, work with many more international interior designers, and grow the brand to be an international success. Here you can create the content that will be used within the module.
Q. Let’s finish this up with a fun question: What is your go-to snack when you’re in a creative mode? And what music/artist/song inspires you while you work?
I am the snack queen, so any snack and I’m happy. [Laughs] But if I had to choose one, it would probably be cake; you can’t beat a piece of sponge cake especially when I’m in the middle of a design and need a little sugar hit!
As for music, oh, there’s too many. Probably either Kings of Leon, Hozier, Barry White, Haim or Beyoncé…it’s a real mix there, but I like a bit of everything!