Last week, we popped over to Hanbury Hall in Spitalfields for a craft show, organised by Selina Lake for the launch of her new book Homespun Style. The event featured a collection of designers, with stalls full of beautiful handmade products – from crochet bunting to handmade wrapping paper. We particularly loved the beautiful home-made cakes!
We were looking forward to meeting up with mydeco.com supplier Mel Rye, the designer behind Mel Made This – we made a beeline for her stall and chatted about her products, her love of vintage and the new up cycling trend.
We love that you source vintage fabrics – what started your love of vintage, and where do you source from?
‘My love of vintage has been with me as long as I can remember, I think it is from my family, as our family home was filled with an eclectic mix of second hand, vintage and antique furniture and bits and bobs. My mum had an enormous wooden chest filled to the brim with old fabric she had kept over the years, some of it going back as far as the 1950s, and I used to love rummaging through it and looking at all the patterns – occasionally i’d make something with it on an old singer sewing machine. I started my own fabric collection as a student; I studied a degree in Textiles and spent a lot of time in charity shops and vintage shops. I just started compulsively buying vintage fabric because I loved the patterns, I’d cover my sketchbooks in it, and gradually my collection grew to occupy several suitcases. Now I source from all over the place: eBay, charity shops, vintage shops, antique markets, and quite often people approach me who have a little gem of a fabric they think I could use.’
Up-cycling is becoming increasingly popular, why is it important to you to use your vintage and recycled fabric rather than buying new?
‘I think people are becoming much more environmentally aware, and also more interested in craft. I want to show people that there is an alternative to going to IKEA or John Lewis, and that actually you can purchase something far more unique, with more personality and more long lasting than anything currently mass produced on the high street.’
Do you think the up-cycling trend is here to stay? Do you have any favourite up-cycled pieces?
‘Up-cycling is definitely on the up at the moment, for all sorts of reasons; environmentally, stylistically, and financially. It has become a big trend, but it has actually been around for ages, my parents used to do it before I was born, but back then it was just called re-upholstering! I definitely think it’s here to stay, although I imagine it will go through many transformations and styles. I love any upcycling that involves using beautiful fabrics and interesting colour combinations.’
Your pieces all have ‘human’ names. Where does the inspiration for the names come from?
‘Lots of the names I use are actually my friends and family! I like to use human names because I think my pieces really do have their own character and personality which I associate with that particular name. Sometimes it’s a colour association, for example the Susie screen is named after a friend of mine who is a really happy bubbly person with blonde hair and she often wears bright yellow, orange and red. When I was making the Susie screen, she kept coming to mind, so it felt right to give it her name.’
Your ‘Gonks’ have been one of your most popular pieces today. What’s the story behind them?
‘The original Gonks were hugely popular in the 1960s, people used to give them as gifts, to say good, luck, good bye, congratulations, happy birthday etc. I had a small one made of blue felt as a child and i remember loving the character and handmade quality of it, and I love the idea of bringing back the tradition of giving Gonks as gifts, so I created my own interpretations of them using vintage fabric and buttons, and filled with fresh dried lavender, so they also double as drawer fresheners, although most people who buy them seem to be reluctant to keep them away in their drawers!’
What’s next in the Mel Made This calendar?
‘At the moment I’m designing some new products to launch in London Design Festival in September, and also working on some new ideas for Christmas too, so lots of forward planning!’
I'm the Editor of the mydeco.com blog, writing about the interiors that inspire me most. I love bright colour against neutrals, and have a soft spot for themed rooms. Quirky accessories are my favourite and I love nothing more than finding something bold and beautiful to make a room really stand out! Read more posts by Laura.