Designbybell Ethos and Evolution
Hi. I'm Karen Bell and I created Designbybell, initially producing a range of statement cushions, but with an eye firmly on expanding into other homeware products. I create all of the designs from scratch - from hand drawings to photos which I then scan and develop into motifs and patterns using digital skills developed in DIT (now TU Dublin). The process then moves to textile printers and makers in Donegal, where several draft iterations lead to the colours and textures that form the basis of each collection.
I've always been creative - drawing and painting were a passion from an early age and this has evolved during my time working in Aachen and Brussels into an appreciation of architecture and interior design that led to stint as a writer and editor for Interior Design magazines. Inspiration for my work comes from a variety of sources: from the centuries old golden leather wallpaper in the library of Malahide Castle with its fabulous display of florals, butterflies and dragonflies, a Chinoiserie style which inspired the design of my peacocks collection; to a visit to The Enchanted Forest, a magical toy store in the city of New York, now sadly long gone, where an array of spectacular kaleidoscopes created such an indelible impression that they resurfaced years later to form the basis for my Kaleidoscope Eye motif. Growing up 5 minutes from the sea in Dublin, the beaches were the backdrop for my childhood adventures. And the shorelines at the Hole in the Wall, Red Rock in Sutton and Bull Island never fail to inspire with their generous bounty. The swallows swooping low over the Wooden Bridge , the patterns in the shifting sands on a windy day as well as the fantastical seaweed formations at low tide, are reimagined in brilliant colour in my Swallows Wheel and Carrageen Dream cushion collections and now in a new range of outdoor cushions on eco canvas made from re-cycled plastic bottles and bags.
Carrageen Moss seaweed takes centre stage in my new collection of tableware. The carrageen motif undulates across table runners and napkins with intertwined abstracted florals, with a check edging in contrasting colours adding a fresh and contemporary interpretation using a traditional Irish material. Another design inspired by Etore Sottsass, reinterprets his wave-like mirror frame as edging around the Carrageen motif in a nod to the extravagant Memphis design movement of the 1970's. The entire production process of this tableware originates on the island of Ireland. My designs are printed on 100% Irish linen and made up in Donegal using eco pigment inks. Producing objects for the home in a sustainable way, is important to me both for the environment and as a sign of quality underpinning my work. Ireland is renowned worldwide for its tradition in linen production and my digitally printed designs on linen for the table add to that tradition by creating timeless pieces in interesting colourways that add an elegant contemporary edge to dining and entertaining at home.
I hope you like them as much as I enjoy designing them.