designjunction ✕ Anna-Lisa Smith
Anna-Lisa Smith creates contemporary woven lambswool interior products designed & produced in the heartland of England’s traditional textile country. Here we catch up with her to talk about all things design.
- Why Anna-Lisa Smith?
My name actually represents my work quite well. Anna-Lisa is quite a common name in Scandinavian countries and Smith is a very common name in the UK. From a young age I was drawn to the simplicity and beauty of Scandinavian design but like to think there’s quite a lot of British spirit in my work… particularly the colours and of course the manufacturing!
- What does design mean to you?
Design for me is about creating a functional object which brings beauty and joy into our daily life. I have many objects that I use on a daily basis but which still make me smile or feel happy every time I see them. Hopefully my work has that effect.
- Where do you work the best?
As a designer I think the lines between when you’re working and when you’re not are very blurred. There’s generally always one part of your mind thinking, analysing, looking for inspiration. The best ideas often come when I’m walking in the hills around my West Yorkshire studio.
- What motivates you?
To constantly learn and evolve and to develop as a designer and a business woman. I love working with the weavers and finishers close to my home and be part of the weaving heritage of this area. Most of all to produce beautiful pieces which others can enjoy.
- What does Anna-Lisa Smith bring to the design world that other brands don’t?
Simple design mixed with beautiful colour and quality materials. Minimal design is often more muted in its colour palette but I like to let the simple, striking patterns allow the colour and quality of the merino wool to really shine.
- What is the biggest challenge facing the design industry?
These days we live in such a global world and have so many options of what to buy. Brands need to have values, integrity and honesty as well as originality to stand out from the crowd.
- What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far in your career?
To keep going! In the design world you need to have a huge amount of perseverance. It can take a while before people start to understand and respond to what you’re doing and you need to be able to stick it out until this happens.
- What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in the industry?
Spend the time working out who your customer is and then design for them! It took me a while to figure that out but once I did life got a lot easier!
- What do you wish you’d designed?
The Louvre… I absolutely love that building. It’s incredible how the beautiful glass pyramid sits so perfectly in the courtyard of such an ancient palace. I used to live in Paris and spent many an early evening sitting gazing in wonder!
- If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I think like many designers I find it hard to imagine doing anything else. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we just keep on going!! If I really had to do something else maybe I’d be a baker. My partner has a business baking beautiful sourdough bread so maybe I’d pester him to teach me.
- What’s your biggest weakness?
In terms of design it’s limiting myself with how many collections I create and how many colour ways I produce… I try to be strict with myself but sometimes I just get carried away. In a more general sense probably Lindt chocolate with sea salt 🙂
- Why designjunction?
designjunction is the perfect show for me, I had such a great time last year. The location is great but more importantly it is curated carefully so you know you’ll sit alongside brands which are a good fit for you. designjunction attracts the kind of people who appreciate my work and values.
Quick fire questions
- Traditional or contemporary?
- Instagram or Twitter?
- Sketchbook or computer?
- Form or function?
- Early bird or night owl?
- Favourite design product?
Pretty much any chair by Hans. J. Wegner
- Best spot in London?
Sitting on the South Bank on a warm summers evening
- Best place to get away?
A wild deserted beach in Northumberland
- Best restaurant?
- Best hotel?
The Grand Hotel, Tynemouth