Donna Wilson Kidswear range for John Lewis!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Exciting news: Donna has finally designed her first collection of clothing for babies and kids for British department store John Lewis! Donna's lambswool cushions and homewares have been available at John Lewis for a number of years now, so the two brands knew they would be a perfect match for creating a fresh, new range together!

We are proud to have been included in the Telegraph just before the collection's launch in John Lewis stores. Click here to see the article, or you can read below!

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Children's notebook: practical clothes with homespun charm
by Daisy Bridgewater

It was really only a matter of time before the designer Donna Wilson turned her hand to childrenswear. Since launching in 2003, her company has had at its core a quirky, playful and deeply individualist aesthetic based around a menagerie of bizarre hand-knitted creatures, such as Cyril Squirrel-Fox, a bandana-wearing bear called Bibi, and the oddly proportioned Bruce Monkey. These characters and their friends already crop up across a range of vibrant, folksy homeware, poking fun at mealy-mouthed minimalism and reminding us that good design does not have to be beige. Now this anarchic glee is spreading into the children’s market, with a comprehensive range of clothes for babies up, developed in collaboration with John Lewis.

Wilson has a long history with the department store. ‘They were really supportive when I was relatively unknown,’ she tells me. When one of John Lewis’s childrenswear designers, Beatrice Lubega, contacted her last year to suggest they work on a children’s range together, the timing felt perfect. ‘I had recently had a baby [Eli is now 18 months] and had been focusing on how I wanted to dress him. I had a very clear idea about what I wanted – leggings, knitted jumpers, lots of colour, and nothing too gender-specific – and John Lewis had the expertise to turn it into a reality.’

 
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The resulting collection is a gleeful riot of colour and pattern. Many of her best-known characters and designs have made it into the range – bird feet, clouds and foxes abound – and others have been tweaked for the children's market. Colours are strong and unexpected: emerald green, mustard and dirty-pink knits mixed with monochrome-print cotton jersey with colour-pop patches and pockets. ‘It is lovely to see some of my designs in print,’ she says. ‘When I see the collection now, all ready to go in store, it makes me feel really happy. It feels fun.’

While much of the collection draws on her strong design staples, Wilson also looked to her own childhood for inspiration. ‘My mum was really into Clothkits [the densely patterned clothing kits launched in the late 1960s; clothkits.co.uk], and I will never forget the amazing quilted jackets with pockets for toys. I grew up on a farm in Scotland, and spent a lot of time outside, so I wanted the clothes to be easy to wear and easy to care for. My own son is going through a stage where all he wants to play with is mud and water, so I also know how important it is to be able to put things in the washing machine.’

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Avid childrenswear watchers might suggest that this is not the first time that we have seen birds and animals knitted into children’s jumpers or printed on to T-shirts. There has been a proliferation of homely, nostalgic designs finding their way back into a market once dominated by designer labels and their high-street imitations. But it was Wilson’s knowingly folksy homeware that spearheaded this move back to the homespun in the first place: look closely at her clever colour combinations and un-cutesy animals and you will see that she remains the master of her trade. That she has been shamelessly copied is not something that she wishes to dwell on. With prices ranging from £3 for a pair of socks to £25 for a colour-block dress, Donna Wilson for John Lewis is making a small stand for individualism at a pocket-friendly price. Invest in this collection, safe in the knowledge that this time you will be buying an original.
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Some additional thoughts from Donna: 

Much of Donna's thought process while designing the collection came from her own experiences as a new mum. After her son was born, Donna found herself making jumpers for him out of lambswool scraps and cushions in an effort to make unique clothing in styles she saw during her travels but could not find in the UK.

"I remember seeing a little Icelandic boy with leggings and a woolly jumper and he looked so cute that it really stuck with me. But when I started looking for leggings for boys I couldn't find any. Her collection for John Lewis reflect the qualities she herself seeks out when shopping for her son.

"I always look for something a little unusual for Eli. He wears a lot of hand-me-downs, so when I buy him things I want them to be really lovely pieces that I too can hand down! And I always go for colour. I don't really buy into the idea of 'blue for boys, pink for girls,' so I did my best to design the range for John Lewis in bright and fun colours, and to keep it quite flexible and unisex."

Donna's commitment to local and responsible manufacturing as embodied in her own collection of UK-made home furnishings is also maintained in this collection for John Lewis. Only suppliers based in Europe were used to produce the line.

"It means we can be sure everything is of the best quality and made in fair working conditions."



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The collection is available exclusively at John Lewis stores throughout the UK and here.

Donna Wilson's Rainy Day Pop-up Shop / London Design Festival

Monday, 11 August 2014

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Mark your calendars!
During London Design Festival this year we will open a week-long installation and pop-up shop at BOXPARK in Shoreditch London!

The space will be transformed into a Donna Wilson wonderland, featuring an overhead installation of hundreds of soft raindrops, murals and panels showcasing Donna Wilson's first ever collection of fabrics, a "selfie station," knitted creatures everywhere, and limited edition products made especially for London Design Festival. A special event will be held each day of the week at the Rainy Day Pop-Up Shop, including an ice cream party, a darning workshop, a film screening, an embroidery service, and a book signing with Donna.

Select products from Donna Wilson's new autumn/winter collections will be available, along with classic pieces from Donna's signature range.

Location
Donna Wilson's Rainy Day Pop-Up Shop
BOXPARK / Unit 26
2-10 Bethnal Green Road
London, E1 6GY
Click here for a map.

Dates and Opening Hours
Tuesday 16th Sept (11-7pm)
Wednesday 17th Sept (11-7pm)
Thursday 18th Sept (11-8pm)
Friday 19th Sept (11-7pm)
Saturday 20th Sept (11-7pm)
Sunday 21st Sept (12-6pm)

This event is part of the Shoreditch Design Triangle.
For more information please visit www.donnawilson.com and www.boxpark.co.uk, and check out our Facebook events page for updates and sneak peeks at special products and the installation! https://www.facebook.com/events/696543700399425/.

See you there!! x

Now in stock: Donna Wilson's first-ever collection of Fabric by the meter!

Monday, 4 August 2014


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Get your scissors, pins, and sewing machines out - 
Donna Wilson's first ever collection of fabrics by the meter is here!

Donna was inspired to design a range of fabrics in an effort to encourage people to be more creative and make things at home. 
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'Forest and Friends' is a collection of 10 fabric designs in two weights, cotton and heavy linen, featuring some of Donna's signature motifs: clouds, trees, lakes, and many other references to her childhood growing up on a farm in Aberdeenshire in the north east of Scotland.

The fresh and cheerful prints are perfect for making cushions, curtains, bedding, and even clothes!

In keeping with her commitment to support local manufacturing, all of the fabrics in the collection are printed in the historical silk town of Macclesfield in the UK.












August Giveaway + NY Now Tradeshow

Friday, 1 August 2014

Very exciting things are happening this month!

First, we are giving away our new Bear Cotton Printed Cushions to TWO lucky winners! For your chance to win one of these cushions, we'd like you to tell us what your favourite summer songs are. Leave a comment on the blog or email press@donnawilson.com and we'll pick our two winners at the end of the month! 

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In other news, we'll be in New York City later this month exhibiting at the NY NOW Tradeshow. We're so excited to be visiting the Big Apple, and we will be bringing Ginge along to visit the sights!  Photos of our visit to follow...

If you'll be attending NY NOW, this is where you'll find us:

Stand #4021 in Accent on Design
NY NOW
For more information about the show please visit http://nynow.com.

Location
The Jacob Javits Center - 655 West 34th Street, at Eleventh Ave, New York, NY 10001
View on GoogleMaps.

Dates & Hours:
Sunday Aug 17th - Tuesday Aug 19th (9am-6pm)
Wednesday Aug 20th (9am-2pm)

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We look forward to seeing our lovely stateside friends and stockists-- come by to say hello, check out all of our exciting new products, and get a copy of our newest catalogue and tote bag! 
We have been working very hard on our new collection and are excited to finally be able to show you all the new things!
x


Live Q&A Twitter Session next week!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

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To all students and recent grads: here's your chance to chat with Donna Wilson and ask her professional  advice!

Donna will be holding a live Q&A Twitter session next week on Thursday 10th July (3-4pm GMT) to answer any questions you might have about the creative industry, starting your own company, and how to get started in the design and textile business!

You can chat live with Donna by sending your questions to @DonnaWilsonLtd and tag #DonnaWilsonQA during the session.  

Mark your diaries and tell your friends! x


July Giveaway + Fashion and Textile Museum Talk with Donna

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Hi all, 

It's summertime at last -- the sun is shining, the warm breeze is brushing against your skin.... and we are loving it! 
To celebrate the warm weather, this month's giveaway item will be our On the Rocks Glass Jug - it's just perfect for serving your favourite summer cocktail or a refreshing lemonade on a lazy summer afternoon.  
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We would love to hear your favourite recipe for a summer cocktail or a special lemonade. For your chance to win our Rock the Boat jug, please submit a your favourite recipe by leaving a comment on this blog post or by emailing press@donnawilson.com, and we'll choose one lucky winner at the end of the month.  


In other news, starting this autumn The Fashion and Textile Museum in London will have a very exciting exhibition on knitwear: 
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Chanel to Westwood
19 Sept 2014 – 18 Jan 2015
Inspirational fashion knitwear from the 20th century. Highlights include 1920s Chanel jersey, 1930s woollen swimwear, 1970s Bill Gibb and conceptual garments from 1980s and 90s designers Comme des Garçons, Vivienne Westwood and Julien MacDonald. An exciting combination of famous names and visually exciting pieces, the exhibition charts the influence of art movements Pop, Punk and Deconstruction alongside new knitwear technologies and design innovation.

As part of the exhibition's events programme, Donna will be doing a talk at the museum on Thursday 2nd October, discussing British knitwear, textile design, and contemporary craft.
Tickets are available HERE

Sign up early before tickets sell out and you'll have something to look forward to for when the weather cools down! :)

We hope you're having a lovely summer!


Aberdeenshire Council Tartan Commission

Friday, 13 June 2014

Hi everyone,

We're very happy to announce that the Aberdeenshire Tartan is now complete! You may remember reading about the start of this project in one of our earlier blog posts here.
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Commissioned by the Aberdeenshire Council for the Be Part of The Picture Project, the new Aberdeenshire tartan was designed by Donna Wilson with the help of local schoolchildren of the county. The children were asked to present the colours they felt best represented their area of Aberdeenshire.

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With these suggestions, Donna designed Aberdeenshire's new tartan featuring colours that draw directly from Aberdeenshire's rich natural surroundings as well as elements of their cultural heritage, and which is completely unique to its namesake!

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The colours that are featured in the tartan are:

Old Meldrum - A gold/copper inspired by the stills at the Glengarioch Distillery, and as one pupil point out- it's also the colour of whisky!
Stonehaven - A pinky red seen in Aberdeenshire sunsets, and a colour often spotted at the infamous 'Aunt Betty’s' sweetshop in Stonehaven.
Aboyne - A frosty lichen green found in the Ladywood Forest.
Fraserburgh - A lilac/blue symbolising the seas and skies around Fraserburgh.
Kintore - A forest green from all the woodlands around Kintore.
Harvest - A barley colour that reminded Donna of the farm where she grew up, and her favourite time of year.
Peterhead - A minty green from the seas and sea spray of Peterhead.
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Here's a great video about the project, put together by the brilliant creative team Oliver's Island, who accompanied Donna on her visits to the schools and the mill. 




As a Scottish designer who grew up in Aberdeen, Donna feels very honoured to have been asked to design this very special tartan.

She adds: "Tartan is such an important part of our tradition and heritage, and we should never lose that. I hope to be able to make a difference to the manufacturers who will be weaving it and create something that will be a lasting symbol of Aberdeenshire.”

Donna is proud to be involved in the Be Part of the Picture project as it a program about celebrating the strengths of Aberdeenshire and showcasing the region as a place of beauty. The programme uses cultural and economic development projects to engage with local people and boost the sense of pride in Aberdeenshire’s communities.
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Donna is pictured above with Aberdeenshire Provost Jill Webster in the Banffshire Journal

We're proud to say that the tartan is woven in Scotland and is now available by the meter, as well as in two very special scarves hand-finished in Donna's London studio. 
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Available for purchase exclusively at www.donnawilson.com.



Father's Day + June Giveaway

Thursday, 29 May 2014

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Father's Day is just around the corner and in honour of all dads, we're doing a Dad themed giveaway this month!  

For your chance to win one of two Beardy Plates we're giving away, please share with us your favourite thing about your dad, or your favourite thing about being a dad.
Please share your answers by leaving a comment on this blog post, or by emailing press@donnawilson.com and we'll pick two lucky winners at the end of the month.
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Good luck! We love reading all of your responses for the various giveaway activities we do - sometimes we read the answers aloud in our studio to share them with our entire team! :)

And don't forget to take a look at all the lovely gift ideas we've put together with our cool dads in mind!
x

p.s. The lucky winner of last month's giveaway is Emily T. from Leytonstone who did a lovely drawing of Belle Bird!


Donna, Jon, and Eli's new home in The Telegraph!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Hi everyone,

We've got some exciting news - The Telegraph is featuring Donna, Jon, and Eli in their new home!

The issue will be in UK newsstands this weekend but you can get a sneak peek of the story by Rachel Leedham and the lovely photos shot by Rachael Smith below:







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There are trays of seedlings sprouting in a corner of Donna Wilson’s bathroom: pea and tomato plants, and a third she cannot identify because she accidentally threw the packet away. ‘I am very excited about having a garden,’ she says. ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing, which is slightly embarrassing, considering that I grew up on a farm.’

It is Wilson’s childhood, living in a remote part of Aberdeenshire, that she believes informed her passion for colour and texture, both of which feature abundantly, joyously, in her work as a textiles designer. ‘I spent a huge amount of time outdoors, looking at nature,’ she recalls. ‘I was taught by my granny to draw and paint, and she was always into colour. She had these beautiful boxes of chalky pastels – they looked like sweets.’

Having graduated with a textiles degree from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Wilson studied mixed media and constructed textiles at the Royal College of Art in London. There she began to create knitted animals – curious creatures with strange proportions that ‘weren’t too pretty and cute, or too ugly and scary’. At her final show the entire menagerie sold. 

In the early 2000s, when interior design was emerging from a period of stark minimalism, Wilson’s vibrant, folksy cushions and blankets – instantlyrecognisable, shamelessly copied – heralded a new zeitgeist for pieces that were playful, homely and not beige. Sheridan Coakley, the founder of the contemporary design company SCP, had once vowed to his staff that he would never sell cushions, but Wilson’s designs won him over. She has also created pieces of furniture for him, including knitted pouffes, as well as Welsh blankets and a range of rugs. This year will see her first foray into fashion, with a childrenswear collection for John Lewis launching in August and her own range of women’s sweaters planned for autumn.

With all of this going on, it is perhaps unsurprising that it took a while for Wilson and her partner, Jon Almond, a furniture designer, to get on the property ladder. When they did begin scouring east London, in 2012, it took two years of ‘overwhelmingly packed’ viewings and gazumpings for them to find this detached Victorian house in a conservation area in Leytonstone. The property once belonged to a flower producer who grew his blooms in fields backing on to it. Under the Dig for Victory campaign of the Second World War the land was divided into allotments, which are still there today. ‘We couldn’t believe our luck,’ Wilson says.

The second piece of luck was that the three-bedroom house had been renovated by a developer with some semblance of taste: no shopping mall-style spotlights or penchant for chrome – the floor was even parquet. ‘I love the floor,’ Wilson enthuses. ‘And we have a proper hall! Who in London has a proper hall?’

As well as a ‘proper hall’, the ground floor has a sitting room, a study and a kitchen-dining room with a double-height ceiling. Upstairs are two bedrooms and a bathroom, with a third bedroom at the top, tucked beneath the eaves.

The project was essentially redecorating, and the space Wilson was most excited about when she and Almond moved in last October was their six-month-old son Eli’s bedroom. ‘I wanted to give him his own knitted world,’ she explains of the knitted trees that hang from picture rails around the room. Gaudy plastic is notable in its absence, although she confesses to having stashed one of Eli’s favourite toys, a plastic DJ booth, in the study before the photographer arrived.

Wilson’s designs are dotted around the house, as are pieces by Almond. ‘Jon loves a rummage and he’s always picking up things from the street or a skip,’ she says, pointing out the coat stand in the hallway which incorporates antique wooden doorknobs salvaged from a building site.

There are also pieces by Wilson’s designer-maker friends: beautiful handblown glass pendant lights by Michael Ruh, whimsical prints by Rob Ryan and a lace-like lampshade by Tord Boontje. Almost everything in the house is British-made, something Wilson is passionate about, particularly when it comes to her own work. ‘I outsource manufacturing around the country. My creatures are made by a knitter in Orkney, the cushions and blankets are produced by a lady in Galashiels, and the ceramics are made in Stoke-on-Trent,’ she says. ‘Many of these skills are dying out, so if I can do my bit to keep them alive, that’s wonderful – but I know I’m a small drop in the ocean.’ Albeit a quirky, multicoloured, ever-so-playful drop.

By Rachel Leedham
Photographs by Rachael Smith

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A very very big thank you to David Nicholls, Rachel Leedham, and Rachael Smith! xxxx

Update on Vital Arts + Royal London Hospital Commission

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Hello everyone,

Here is a little update on the Vital Arts + Royal London Hospital commission that Donna Wilson and her team have been working on!  In case you missed it, click here to read the original entry we posted about this project a few weeks ago.

To summarize, Donna and the team have been commissioned by arts organization Vital Arts and The Royal London Hospital to create an installation in the children's intensive care ward at the Royal London Hospital in an effort to create a positive environment and to help make things feel a bit brighter for all who visit the ward.

The finishing touches to the installation are now being installed and here are some photos of the tree and caribou sculptures that were installed just yesterday: 









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We will continue to post more updates in the coming week- stay tuned!  And a big thank you to all of our friends out there who have sent us so many kind words of support with regard to this project! x