Fabrics and wallpaper designer Lindsay Alker has worked for some of the biggest names in the business, from The Four Seasons Hotels and Liberty of London, to Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, and Givenchy. She also has a 20+ years love affair with all things Clerkenwell.
How did you get started in the fabrics business?
I studied textiles at Winchester School of Art in the 1980s and then worked in a design studio in Emerald Street in Holborn, just up the road from the flat we now own in the Ziggurat on Saffron Hill. I originally designed prints for fashion designers in New York, Tokyo and Europe. I then began to work with interiors companies, and about eight years ago, I launched my own collection producing hand silkscreened fabrics and wallpapers.
What are your main design influences at the moment?
I design with lino blocks, and am inspired by the late 1800s Arts and Crafts Movement, and historic designs from the Renaissance or Elizabethan periods – I combine these with contemporary geometrics to create a new aesthetic. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some incredible Interior designers and architects (David Kohn, Waldoworks, Susie Atkinson, Kate Hume) and my collection has been used in some beautifully designed hotels and private houses*. (*Leeds Castle, Beaverbrook Hotel, Firmdale Hotel, Rosewood, Four Seasons hotels – to be precise)
So, what drew you to Clerkenwell?
I always loved Clerkenwell because it had a quiet village-like feel, it was a backwater somehow, despite being in the middle of London. We’d pass through it on the bus from Shoreditch for nights out in Soho, and I was always fascinated by it. I knew I wanted to be there. Plus, my partner, the artist Mario Rossi, is Scottish Italian, eventually we were drawn to Terroni’s or Gazzano like a tractor beam – we’d go there for fresh pasta, bread and salami. It’s hard to believe now, but there really wasn’t anywhere to buy food when we lived in Shoreditch in the 1980’s, so this was the closest place we could get to for good food.
Do you still go?
Occasionally we do, yes, but not as often as we used to. The Italian community has sadly dwindled, but Sundays still pull in the crowds at the beautiful Italian church, St Peter’s on Clerkenwell Road, who then spill into Terroni’s afterwards for an espresso. I can remember there being crates of fresh grapes outside on the pavement in the autumn, as Italians came from all over London to buy them to make wine.
Do you have a favourite watering hole?
Oh definitely. My favourite place to eat and drink in Clerkenwell is The Eagle, which I’ve been going to since it opened in the early 90’s. The food is always great and completely unpretentious, and I’m pleased to say that it’s not really changed – apart from being much much busier!
Is there somewhere off the beaten track, a hidden gem, you’d like to tell us about?
Well, I was very pleased when we moved to Clerkenwell, twenty years ago, to discover that there is a little park called Spa Fields tucked away behind Exmouth Market, filled with lovely scented lavender and rosemary in the summer. The perfect spot to enjoy a takeaway from Moro, my favourite stall there – it’s an affordable way to try their brilliant cooking!
In this issue, we’ve been asking designers how they see the design world changing in the next couple of years. What would your 2020 Vision be?
I think that the future of design is gradually shifting to hand-crafted products, which are unique, individual, and therefore special – more meaningful. There is a growing backlash against mass-marketed cheaper, more disposable, interior products. I think we should try to be more selective, buy less and choose products that will not date or go out of fashion, and that will ultimately become much-loved heirloom pieces. I have the same curtains that I first hung in my house 30 years ago, I still love them, and I think it’s important to recognise that we can’t keep on throwing away stuff.
You can see some of Lindsay’s fine work www.atlindsayalker.com or on Instagram @lindsayalkerstudio