25 August 2021
In our Meet the Maker blog series, we profile the independent creative businesses behind some of our product ranges in the British Library Shop (both online and at our St Pancras, London site). This month, we meet Jan Vincent from Pavilion, a design-led studio producing colourful greeting cards, gift wrap, notebooks and more.
Pavilion was launched by Jan Vincent and Robert Wood in January 2018, after 18 months of designing and building their first collection of cards. Since then, they have expanded their ranges by adding new product types such as notebooks and gift wrap, and launched new partner brand affiliate:107 in January 2021.
'The inspiration for both Pavilion and affiliate:107 comes from far and wide, I think that’s really evident when you look at the products – our backgrounds are in fashion and womenswear print design so we love pattern making and floral prints, but we also love modern graphic and abstract art which is a huge influence too.'
The business is run from their home in Norwich, where they have a room for designing and admin, and have recently converted a spare bedroom into a stockroom – as Jan says, ‘with lots of shelving to keep us organised’! Each season they launch three-four new ranges so there’s lots to keep track of, and they’ve also added new products such as pencil sets, which are one of Jan’s favourite items:
'One of our latest products is a six piece pencil set which we are really proud of – this was a big leap of faith for us to add to the collection as it was designed and developed during lockdown, and we had to work remotely with our manufacturers to create the set.'
As with so many independent makers and creators, Covid-19 has impacted Pavilion’s business with sales quickly dropping, as well as work outside of the brand going on hold, so they took the decision to close temporarily. This gave the duo time to focus on developing their partner brand affiliate:107, which they’d wanted to do for a long time. They’re now seeing business pick up again, and are looking forward to attending a trade show in September, as well as launching more new designs.
'We feel very honoured to be included in the selection of products available at the British Library Shop. We knew that the shop was an award-winning store that sold many brands that we love, so to be stocked there makes our hard work worthwhile.'
Although Jan confesses he is more of a creative mind, and Robert is the business mind behind Pavilion, he offers this advice for anyone starting out with their own small business:
'Plan and research before you set out on your business venture. Use every resource that is available to find out as much info as you can about how to set up and how to go about launching.'
07 July 2021
In this blog series we profile some of the independent creative businesses behind some of our product ranges in the British Library Shop (both online and at our St Pancras, London site). This time, we meet Cécile from Here. Design, who worked on the bespoke product range and catalogue for the Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights exhibition.
Founded in 2005, Here. is ‘a company of thinkers, writers, designers, and makers who work together to create beautiful and useful things’. They are based in an East London studio, but Covid-19 has allowed them to rethink the way they work, enabling designers to work wherever they feel most inspired as individuals and as part of a team.
Here. worked with the British Library Publishing team on the Unfinished Business catalogue design, which then inspired the range of bespoke products for the shop, drawing on key themes of the exhibition, as Cécile explains:
‘Our design is inspired by the women’s suffrage banners to give a sense of empowerment to the younger generation via the products. All of the products in the range were designed to be worn and worn with pride.’
The range combines bold colours with strong messaging, across flags, prints and cushions for the home, and t-shirts, bags, patches and more to wear your message with pride. Stand-out pieces include the ‘Girls Just Wanna Have FUNdamental Rights’ Cushion, and the ‘A Woman of Words is a Powerful Woman’ recycled leather notebook. Cécile’s favourite item is ‘the enamel pin ‘Change the Agender’ which I wear every day on my jacket’.
‘The product design with its focus on bold typography and inspiring messaging, is powerfully uplifting. Although beautiful objects in their own right, each has a positive purpose. We found inspiration in the imagination and persuasive language of women fighting to have their voices heard.’
The bespoke range sits alongside books exploring the issues of the exhibition in more detail, and is complemented by branded items such as jewellery from Tatty Devine which supports the Fawcett Society. There are also 6 prints produced in collaboration with activist organisations who contributed to the exhibition.
‘Here. were a dream to work with. Their bold and colourful vision for both the book and merchandise perfectly captured the galvanising spirit of the Unfinished Business exhibition.’ Polly Russell, lead curator of the Unfinished Business exhibition
Cécile’s own advice for anyone starting out in design?
‘Have a voice! Your opinion and point of view are as important as someone who has been working in design for 20 years.’
09 April 2021
In this monthly Meet the Maker blog series we meet award-winning artist Claudine O’Sullivan, designer of our Children’s Tales range. Her distinctive nature-inspired hand-drawn illustrations have attracted industry attention and resulted in collaborations with established brands such as Twitter, MTV, Island Records, WeTransfer, Tiger Beer and Derwent Pencils.
We commissioned Claudine to refresh and revamp the children’s range in our shop ahead of the Marvellous and Mischievous exhibition. Her brief was to illustrate a repeat pattern inspired by children’s stories that stand the test of time. Her illustrations, using recognisable imagery from children’s stories, were applied to a range of products including notebooks, jigsaw puzzles and cushions. Look closely and you will spot a frog prince, the crocodile from Peter Pan, the tiger (Who Came to Tea) and many more.
She says: ‘This was my first project after maternity leave. It was really well-timed as I’d been immersed in children’s books. It’s been so special to do the puzzles with my daughter and she has the cushions in her room. This range is like a time capsule for my family.’
Claudine creates bold, colourful nature-inspired prints, all designed using coloured pencil. Her graphic designer at the University of Arts, London advised her to forget about trying to follow a particular style – instead Claudine picks up a pencil with no real plan and just sketches what she feels.
'My process is purely observational drawing and I am obsessed with the natural world. My most recent design is a river heron I spotted during lockdown on my daily walk with my daughter.'
Claudine and her husband both work from home and juggle parenting and work. As well as a never-ending list of personal projects and print ideas Claudine has recently worked on an exciting collaboration with John Lewis and Derwent Pencils encouraging people to design their own wrapping paper.
Charlotte Wainwright, British Library Shop Buyer, added: 'We loved Claudine’s illustrations so much we added a memory game and an extra cushion to the range. Her designs also inspired the other products in our children’s range such as books, Little Red Riding Hood dominoes and even a plush elephant.'
Children's Tales tote bag
In addition to brand partnerships, Claudine also sells prints directly via her website. Her advice for makers and designers starting out with their own small business is to stick with it: 'I built my business whilst working full time, it's exhausting and nerve wracking but save, save, save and when you have a cushion of savings – go for it full time.'