I recently spent an evening with Maude Smith in her beautiful home. We sat and spoke about all manner of things ‘handmade’, whilst Maude created cards and envelopes out of a stash of wallpaper cut-offs from work. She is an Interior Stylist for World of Interiors magazine, and the coveted confectionary of wall paper from a photo shoot was being transformed into charming elephant shaped stationery.
Maude makes and designs an array of beautiful everyday clothes and homeware, and ever since she can remember has always made things. She traces it back to her grandmother who had a ‘make do and mend’ approach to life, never throwing anything away, making her own children’s clothes and toys.
Most recently Maude has designed a collection of whimsical ‘old fashioned style’ floaty dresses out of stunning, richly coloured block printed fabrics from India. She designs other clothes too, all carefully crafted on her sewing machine, and also has a collection of painted tiles and doors, printed wallpaper and stationery.
Maude uses every spare moment designing and creating, and says she is most happiest when she is making. She feels that ‘making’ reinforces who one is, it gives an identity to who you are, and allows you to put your own stamp on the world.
She studied textiles at Edinburgh, and since then has worked for an number of creative companies including a textiles studio in Brighton, a cloth house in Soho, an antiques shop, as an art therapist, and most recently for World of Interiors for whom she is styling wonderful photo stories.
Maude’s style is traditional, her everyday clothes and homeware are inspired by folk art and traditions, and she is always looking to reintroduce old fashioned styles into her work. We discussed a lot about how ‘everyday things’ are often not thought of as special, and how a lovingly made ceramic mug or hand printed card should be appreciated as an object of beauty in it’s own right. And I love that at the root of all of Maude’s work is her aim to produce unique and useful pieces, created over time with care, turning her back on mass production.
Laura Ashley is her absolute hero, and she has been greatly inspired by the works of Emily Sutton, Enid Marx, Vanessa Bell, the Bloomsbury Group and the Omega Workshops. William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement are also a huge influence.
Artists she admires are Whistler, Klimt, William Waterhouse, Edward Bawden and Ravilious, Mark Hearld and Anna Wright, and she loves the works of Beatrix Potter. We bonded over children’s illustration, Maude has a wonderful collection of children’s books including the works of Laura Carlin and Beatrice Alamanga.
Maude is also collector of beautiful things, her kitchen was hung with the most amazing dried hops, and her cupboards covered in shells and corks (many of which I discovered had been acquired via ebay.) She also has a wonderful array of scrapbooks with all her influences and inspirations in, which she very kindly showed me. I love scrapbooks, other peoples are even better, and I loved browsing through Maude’s fascinating collection.
A recent project has involved painting the illustrations for a book on ‘Saints and their Flowers’, together with a retired bishop; and next she is hoping to design her own prints, to be made into into dresses.
It was a truly wonderful evening, and thank you for having me Maude, I can’t wait to see the prints for your new dresses.
Photos taken by Hermione McCosh Photography
The clothes in the photos are designed by Maude and are for sale.
Photos by Hermione McCosh Photography.