A Q&A with luxury wallpaper & fabric designer Juliet Travers
London based luxury wallpaper and fabric designer Juliet Travers only established her business Juliet Travers Ltd in 2013 but her unique style has already grabbed the attention of the interiors world. Her collections of beautifully detailed wallpapers and fabrics have caught the eye of many leading interiors publications such as Country & Townhouse, House & Garden and The English Home.
Featuring designs from her current wallpaper and fabric collections, Juliet has just created a selection of beautiful fabric covered hardback notebooks, luxury wrapping paper and co-ordinating note cards.
We spoke to Juliet about this new collection as well as finding out a bit more about her background, why her designs are so distinctive and her industry inspirations.
How and why did you get into wallpaper and fabric design? Was that always your ambition?
I studied Printed Textiles for Interior Furnishings at Edinburgh College of Art and after graduating in 2009 I worked as sales manager at de Gournay’s flagship store in London. I gained the most amazing sales experience here and was put in charge of sales across 15 different countries so I instantly learned how and why clients in different parts of the world are interested in different colours, textures, patterns and scales. The industry fascinated me and I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. I initially never intended to go solo but after extensive research I found a niche in the market to create a beautifully hand drawn collection of designs, but machine print them at the highest standard to offer the market a range of statement wallpapers at a more affordable price.
I understand you hand draw all your designs. Take us through the wallpaper design process, how long does this take from start to finish?
All our designs are hand drawn by myself, it’s what I love most about what I do and no matter how big the company gets, I will always be the person who designs! Starting with an original sketch or idea and developing it into a repeat design for the use of wallpaper, fabric and cushions is such a fun and fulfilling challenge. From sketch to a finished wallpaper collection at Decorex (where I usually launch a new collection) takes nine months. I begin to draw in January, visit the factory by early March and begin mass production early Summer. I then have to work on the photoshoot a few weeks later and when I’ve finished images from the photographer, I update the website with the new products, then design the new wallpaper and fabric books for my new and existing stockists, and then when all my sales and marketing materials are ready I launch it to the public at Decorex during London Design week. It’s a pretty busy year but I love all aspects of the process, it definitely keeps me on my toes that’s for sure!
When did you branch into fabric design? Had this always been your plan and what instigated this?
The company plan had always been to produce a wallpaper collection first followed by a co-ordinating fabric collection a year later. We have followed this pattern for our Safari collection and I’m currently working on the Albion fabrics and cushions to accompany our Albion wallpapers. The new fabric will be launching at Decorex in September.
I would love to do it all at once but as you have seen above, the work load is challenging and also there is cash flow to think about! It’s fun to launch it gradually though and it keeps our customers excited about what’s coming next. The fabric is a lovely continuation from wallpaper and less of a commitment too. Fabric can be used for all sorts of products and areas for the home and that’s what is so lovely about it. Clients order by the meter and have the freedom to create something very special. The cushions are again a great accessory and open the brand up to the gift market which is a whole different angle in itself.
Is the design process for creating your fabrics very different to that of your wallpaper?
I keep the fabric designs identical to the wallpapers so they follow suit as a collection. The only aspect that changes is the scale due to the different machinery used from one to the other, fabric tends to be larger. The cushions are placement designs, so I specifically design them to fit the measurements of the cushions, but again the imagery is the same as the wallpapers.
What do you think makes you different from your competitors?
I think my style is quite recognisable in terms of the level of detail in the designs and the way that it’s printed as it’s something very few other companies do. During the design process I’ve also made an effort to focus on imagery that one doesn’t really see anywhere else. Something we so often hear from clients discovering our products from the first time is “it’s so different!”, and that is something that’s very important to us. At the same time though it’s incredibly important to create designs that don’t date quickly, or their charm wears off – they must be liveable. I want people to enjoy seeing our designs in their homes every day.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I definitely want to be known for wildlife designs. Animals and their origin fascinates me because everything that comes with that including colour, texture, scale, and culture naturally lends itself to wallpaper and fabric design.
My husband grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe and have consequentially been fortunate enough to travel to various African countries and spend time with the incredibly beautiful and diverse wildlife it has to offer. The catalyst for my debut Safari collection was therefore my passion for Africa, and the fact so few companies at that time had touched on the Safari theme. Luckily for me it’s now a big trend so it was wonderful to get in there early!
My second wallpaper range (the Albion collection), is based on a different part of the world that is also close to my heart: the British Isles. I didn’t just want to produce what’s already been done, as there are a huge amount of British themed prints out there, so decided to focus on wildlife that both tourists and British people love. I live in London near Hyde Park, and it’s the squirrels, swans, song birds and British flowers that always catch people’s attention the most. My family home is in southwest Scotland and again, one of the favourite animals up there is of course the highland cow, so soon enough I had a new collection!
What are your most popular designs? Also what is your favourite and why?
Our best sellers are probably our Free Fall, Nakuru and Dazzle designs in our Safari range and then our Highland Fling and Nutcracker designs in the Albion range. I think these designs are easy for people to work and live with, as well as being very different to anything else on the market. The use of colour is interesting and customers love the metallic pigments in these designs. Having said that we have several customers who are looking for something more subtle and that’s when The Waterhole, The Tribe and Camouflage papers have been selling best. It purely depends on taste and preference, but what is nice is that we hopefully have a whole spectrum of products available for our customers to choose from.
My personal favourite varies depending on which room I would like to decorate. I will always have a soft spot for The Waterhole, it was also the very first design I ever created for the Juliet Travers brand!
What’s the best and worst bit about your job?
The design process is always going to be the best, the buzz I get from seeing finished projects is second to none. Happy customers and seeing my designs in lovely homes brings a huge smile to my face, they vary so much from space to space which keeps it very exciting and fun. The worst is definitely the abundance of emails, phone calls and admin that comes with running a business…
Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
2017 is a very exciting year for the brand because we have just launched our new line of stationery. Again the designs continue form both my Safari and Albion collections, which includes luxury notecards, fabric covered notebooks and beautiful gift wrap. I’m so excited to expand the brand into a whole new market and spread out into a completely different industry, whilst still using my signature wallpaper and fabric designs. It’s a fantastic time for the brand and it’s wonderful to now offer a range of stationery products that are more accessible to the mass market.